Road tests

New Lotus Eletre 2023 review

The new Lotus Eletre electric SUV heralds a new era for the British sports car maker

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

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It's not a Lotus in the traditional sense, but the Eletre is a new kind of car for the firm, for a new kind of world. And mostly it works an absolute treat. It’s as entertaining to drive as it is high in quality, both inside and out. Dynamically, it’s as sharp as any conventional competitor from Lamborghini, Porsche, you name it – and at not dissimilar money. This is a great new car from Lotus, no mistake.

Such is the expectation around the Lotus Eletre, and so easy is it to be cynical about this new 2.5-tonne electric hyper-SUV, Lotus has no room to spare with this car. In order to succeed – and to silence the cynics – the Eletre needs to be more than just good. It needs to be great.

So is the new £104,500 Eletre S good enough to propel Lotus back on to the world stage? Can it compete with the likes of Porsche, Lamborghini and Aston Martin?

The answer is a resounding yes, but working out where Lotus now sits within the hierarchy of the world’s best sports car makers is hard to pinpoint. The Eletre is priced to rival a high-end Jaguar but has the pace to make a Lamborghini Urus sit up and think; in terms of credibility – and pure dynamic ability – the Eletre is fantastic.

It’s extraordinarily well made and features a seriously high-quality, hi-tech cabin that’s intuitive to use and distinctive to look at. It’s also very well packaged, with acres of space in the rear seats and boot.

Most of all, though, the Eletre feels like a Lotus. It has great steering, a supremely well controlled yet soothing ride, class-leading feel to its brakes and throttle, and a level of interaction that makes it genuinely enjoyable. All of which is pretty incredible, given that it weighs “from 2,520kg”.

It also happens to go like stink thanks to its 112kWh lithium-ion battery and pair of motors. These produce 595bhp and 710Nm, good for 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds. In the £120k R model – with a pokier rear motor that lifts the output to 893bhp and 985Nm – the 0-62mph time drops to 2.9 seconds.

We drove the R briefly and can confirm it goes like the proverbial you-know-what. But the S – likely to be the big seller – still has more than enough performance.

As with the air-suspended, four-wheel-drive, four-wheel-steering chassis, Lotus has worked wonders on the power delivery. The throttle response alters as you scroll through the drive modes (Range, Tour, Sport and Individual) via a lovely milled aluminium button down in the centre console. The most successful of these is Tour, in which there’s a decent urgency to the throttle, but not so much that you feel uncomfortable.

In Sport, not only does the throttle response get more explosive (perhaps unnecessarily so sometimes) but the steering weight, damper response, ESC intervention and even the seats alter to make the Eletre feel like you’ve dialled it up to 11. It’s highly effective, and gives the car a pleasingly broad range to its personality.

And range? Lotus claims the Eletre S is good for 373 miles. It also says recharging from 10-80 per cent takes just 20 minutes using a 350kW chargepoint. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many of those in the UK yet.

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Even so, on test, the claimed range seemed genuine enough; after two days and over 240 miles, we still had more than 20 per cent charge left in the battery.

Lotus is still to confirm the exact spec of UK cars, but the S won’t lack equipment. All its main functions are handled by a brilliant new 15-inch touchscreen that features full Apple and Android connectivity, a fantastic new sat-nav system, plus apps galore (including a Lotus driving app that will eventually include a digital key function).

You can choose from four or five-seat configurations, but in either guise there’s a huge amount of leg and headroom, with the boot providing 611 or 688 litres respectively.

Out of nowhere, Lotus has nailed it with the Eletre. Right now, it’s in a league of one among enthusiast-orientated large SUVs that don’t burn fuel. England’s answer to a Taycan Sport Turismo has arrived, and in many ways it’s faster and more engaging.

Model: Lotus Eletre S
Price: £104,500
Powertrain: 112kWh battery/2x e-motors
Power/torque: 595bhp/710Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
0-62mph: 4.5 seconds
Top speed: 160mph
Range: 373 miles
Charging: 350kW (10-80% 20mins)
On sale: Now

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