SUVs don’t often get called beautiful. Rugged, cool, maybe even stylish on occasion. Marketing departments like to pepper SUV launches with adjectives that tap into our primordial instincts to haul stuff or ram through forest roads, but the typical Range Rover, Toyota RAV4, or Volvo has long since left its utilitarian roots behind. Looks, as opposed to actual ability, are increasingly important with SUVs. Looks are also entirely subjective, but we’ll go ahead and say it: Inside and out, the Eletre is a beautiful SUV.
SUVs are entirely new to Lotus. Even long after Bentley and Porsche brushed aside tradition and released their own first SUVs, Lotus remained a sports-car-only company. With SUVs becoming the dominant passenger vehicle type, it may have been inevitable that Lotus would eventually throw its hat into the ring. As might be expected, Lotus brought a lot of its old sports car tricks into the design and manufacturing of the Eletre.
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Light Me Up
Colin Chapman, founder of Lotus Cars, had a saying that sums up Lotus’ entire 74-year history: “Simplify, then add lightness.” The essence of the perfect sports car was shared with that of the perfect racing car—and Lotus was a racing car manufacturer, first and foremost.
Since large packs of batteries make EVs heavier than internal-combustion-powered vehicles, the Eletre pulls out a few tricks to chop as much weight as possible from the 201-inch-long SUV. For comparison, it’s about the size of a Ford Explorer and a foot longer than the Ford Mustang Mach-E, another performance-oriented, all-electric SUV.
Lotus says the Eletre features “extensive” use of carbon fiber and aluminum to keep the (still undisclosed) weight down. The exterior body panels are aluminum, and all the black exterior trim pieces, such as the wheel arches, rear spoiler, and side-view mirrors, are carbon fiber. Hard interior trim pieces are also carbon fiber, and the seats are wrapped in a wool-blend fabric that, according to Lotus, is 50 percent lighter than typical leather seating.
You can also see the tendency to subtract in the front center console, echoing the interior of the Eletre’s sister Lotus EV, the much-delayed Evija hypercar, where an open pass-through between the left and right footwells also trims weight.