LOTUS excels at lightening things. Including, I suspect, this week’s Champion, as those of you offended at it launching a crossover simply rip out this page in disgust and chuck it straight in the bin without even reading the rest of this week’s column.
It’s fair to say the new Eletre, revealed to the public over the past week, has raised a few eyebrows. The chaps in Norfolk call it a ‘hyper-SUV’ – and by that they mean it’s a go-faster family wagon with Lamborghini Urus-troubling levels of performance and emphatically not an off-roader that’s going to give anyone at Land Rover sleepless nights.
On first impressions, I rather like it. Lotus have managed to make it look just enough like the Evija supercar without ruining the rest of the package – as opposed to Porsche, whose original Cayenne looked like a 911 badly described over a phone call. It’ll go like a Lotus too – it’ll crack 60mph in less than three seconds and thanks to trick aerodynamics and copious amounts of aluminium and carbon fibre in its construction, it should handle like one too. Even Grant Shapps is going to enjoy the Eletre, as it’s all-electric, can be charged up in 20 minutes and will whisk you 248 miles before asking for a top-up.
But for some it was all too much, if the sheer weight of opinion from online enthusiasts was anything to go by. Colin Chapman, spinning grave, etc, etc. Forget the fact that Lamborghini, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Maserati and Jaguar all make SUVs, and one from Ferrari isn’t far off – for Lotus to do one is a step too far. And just to add insult to injury, it’s not even going to be made in Britain – it’s going to be made in Wuhan, the Chinese city best known for COVID-19.
Clearly a Lotus SUV is a big ask, but the important thing is that when it does go on sale (and no, there’s no word on price yet) is that you buy one. And so do you – yes, you, the person reading The Champion over the shoulder of the person holding it. In fact, tell everyone you know that they simply MUST buy an Eletre, regardless of whether they can afford one or not.
SUVs, whether you love them or loathe them, are the cash cows for virtually every carmaker right now, and without the Eletre there probably won’t be any proper sports cars from Lotus further down the line either. The same goes for Lamborghini’s Urus – we need people to buy them because otherwise we won’t have any more Aventadors, and equally Jaguar needs to shoehorn as many I-Paces into its showrooms because otherwise it won’t be able to bankroll any more sports cars. The Eletre could have been terrible, and it still would’ve been crucial to the future of Lotus.
The fact that it looks like a proper Lotus is a handy bonus. Even if it is one on stilts with five doors.
David Simister is the editor of Classic Car Weekly