FIVE years ago companies like Porsche and Lamborghini didn’t give a damn about Lotus.
That was not necessary. Lotus produced lightweight analogue sports cars. And not very many of them.
But in less time than it took Elon Musk to ruin Twitter, the British brand, which operates from a remote corner of East Anglia, is now keeping Germans and Italians up all night, every night.
This is Eletre. It’s an SUV. Lotus has never done that before. It’s electric.
Lotus has never really managed to do that. It’s packed with self-driving LIDAR technology.
Nobody has ever done that.
In addition, Eletre is packed with software from the developers of Fortnite.
Inside are seven screens. cinema sound. arcade games. Folding rear seats.
Oh, and the top-spec R version makes 900 horsepower. Hubba. Hubba.
Max Verstappen’s F1 car has 1,000 hp, but it doesn’t fit four people and a dog.
The most affordable Eletre is £90,000 and is a twin-engine, all-wheel drive 603bhp. A lot fast enough.
The £130,000 Peri-Peri Hot R features a larger rear engine, rear-wheel steering and active anti-roll bars, and catapults itself from 0-100 km/h in just 2.95 seconds.
Rip out a Lamborghini Urus at a traffic light Grand Prix for a lot less money – and it can tow stuff.
While an Urus cannot.
Eletre doesn’t lack drama either, because trick aerodynamics optimize dynamics and maximize range.
Allow me to give you an example. Active louvers in the lower front grille breathe like gills to cool the battery and increase range by six miles.
In short, this is the fastest and most technically advanced SUV ever built.
Not only did Lotus overtake Porsche, Lamborghini, Range Rover and others with this car, but they also made them look like dinosaurs.
How is all this possible? Because the Chinese giant Geely is investing billions to turn Lotus from a subsistence level to a major global player.
Eletre is followed by a Porsche Taycan rival, a Porsche Macan rival and finally a lowered Esprit-inspired sports car.
All electric. All begin with the letter E, as history dictates.
The sports car is manufactured in Great Britain along with the petrol Emira. The others are made in Wuhan, China.
Fast and responsive
When Lotus turns 80 in 2028, bosses want to convert 250,000 cars a year.
Now I will answer the obvious question. Drives Eletre like a Lotus?
No. But it feels like it. As close as a car of this size could get.
The steering is direct and nicely balanced. The chassis and air springs make it feel smaller and lighter than it is.
Batteries are not light.
And for a car weighing almost 2.5 tons, it dances.
Fast and addictive if you hurry. Quiet and relaxing when you’re not.
Eletre has an official WLTP range of 373 miles with a 112kWh battery.
In the real world it’s closer to 300. But still enough.
Super-fast 800V charging adds 74 miles every five minutes.
Now, some of you may think that building an SUV is sacrilegious for Lotus. But I disagree.
Colin Chapman – the genius Lotus founder – was an innovator.
And he had two parking spaces at Hethel – one for his sports car and one for the family Range Rover.
Colin’s son Clive said: “I have no doubt that my father would have loved the opportunity to design something like an SUV.”
Something like Eletre. Porsche and Lamborghini are now catching up.
ROLLS ROYCE SPECTER
Power: 584 hp, 900 Nm
0-100km/h: 4.5 seconds
Top Speed: N/A
Range: 329 miles
Recharge: 80% in 34 minutes