The Lotus Eletre R is a light SUV with 900 hp (671 kW), a curb weight of approximately 5,820 lbs (2,640 kg), and a six-figure sticker price. If you’re a long-time fan of the British brand—look around, is there a miniature model of a racing car within sight or a biography of Colin Chapman on your bookshelf?—the opening sentence might cause trouble. few. If you’re like most Americans, however, the mention of “Lotus” is likely to conjure up thoughts of the garden as grands prix.
Therein lies the puzzle for a company that is in phase one of total innovation. Lotus cars don’t sell particularly well, but for seven years now if you buy one you know what you’re getting: a minimalist sports car with a focus on extreme weight savings. Man, Eletre R is not that.
I think it is more important to ask if this Lotus is any good, rather than arguing about whether or not it is a “real Lotus.” The EV revolution may be in full swing, but it’s not as if we’re in electric SUVs with aggressive power outputs and a challenging design language. Brand aside, What does this car compete with, and who has a chance to win?
After a few hours behind the wheel of a pre-production US-spec Eletre unit that will arrive next year as a 2025-year car — I can report that the Eletre R is faster, with better handling and control on the roads curved and above-average behavior on roads. It’s not as fast as more traditional SUVs with the same footprint, but it certainly has enough space to serve as a daily driver for singles, couples, and owners of small families. And the estimated range of 311 miles (500 km) stacks up very well against most high-powered EVs.
In particular, Eletre also has an unlimited amount of money for people who, as my father-in-law likes to say, “work for life.” Lotus has yet to announce official pricing but told me that the “very well equipped” R spec car will cost $150,000. That kind of money will get you into some fascinating machines, but, unsurprisingly, it’s still some kind of value considering Lotus’ performance and, dare I say it, “cool design.”
Let’s start at Porsche, where Lotus has been fighting a cold war with 911s and Boxsters since ancient times. Unfortunately, the German automaker has yet to roll out the upcoming Cayenne EV, which will likely be a direct competitor to the Eletre. However, one can definitely think that the long-roof Taycan Turbo Cross Turismo is a worthy opponent. Porsche’s 670 horsepower (500 kW), 3.1-second 0-60 time, and 233 miles (375 km) of range are all worse than the Eletre R’s figures. The German car also takes about 13 cubic meters (368 L) of your thing, and it starts at $163,400 before adding any (always expensive) Porsche options.