Lotus Eletre review, first drive - tech-heavy hyper-SUV promises much

Tuhin Guha Updated: January 03, 2024, 07:47 PM IST

When you think Lotus, you think of a small, light sportscar focused on giving the driver the most engaging experience possible. You think of communicative steering feel, spot-on suspension tuning and just enough performance to wring the best out of the car without reaching frantic speeds. The Lotus Eletre isn't any of these things. This big electric hyper-SUV sets the tone for a new kind of Lotus, which could be a smart move in a country where the Lotus name is still largely unknown.

Lotus Eletre Styling

The Lotus Eletre is about the same size as the Lamborghini Urus but follows a softer, sleeker theme. That being said, there's no dearth of presence, especially in this striking yellow paint option. There's been a heavy focus on aerodynamic efficiency, you see this with the heavy ducting on the bonnet and around the split headlamps. There's a grille too but this also helps cool the powertrain with its conical opening slats.

The taut look of the front is seen in the raked profile too, especially well done with the elongated rear. This Eletre R is fitted with the optional carbon fibre trim that seems to go well with this paint scheme. It's not too loud and subtly contrasts this bright shade well.

The optional 23-inch wheels look great but aren't the best suited for Indian conditions with their efficiency-focused design being quite susceptible to chipping. The Eletre also has some functional party tricks up its sleeve like these hidden LIDAR sensors and the retractable spoiler which helps keep that low 0.26 drag coefficient.

The full-width lighting dominates the rear but you see more of those neat aero inclusions like the split roof spoiler, the large ductings around the lighting and the simple bumpers. Based on a skateboard EV platform there's good practicality like the 688-litre boot and the 46-litre frunk. It's not an instantly recognizable face like some other cars at this price point but it's cohesively done and finished to the standard you might expect.

Lotus Eletre Interiors, space, practicality

But step inside this Eletre, and it's immediately a refreshing new experience for a luxury SUV. It starts with the layout of the dash which seems to continue with the reduced aero theme from the outside. The split low design creates openness and yet there's a sense of engagement in the way the dash wraps around you.

Complementing this is the quality of materials and finish. In this example, most surfaces come finished in suede with a neat contrasting weave on the door and the copper chamfering around the vents and screens adding some vibrancy. Especially intricately done are the speaker covers for the KEF audio. There aren't too many switches, even the vent adjustment is through the screen, but what is there has a rich chamfered finish with a hefty toggle action to it that feels especially nice to use.

The screen layout is also a break from the norm with the slim 12.6-inch driver and passenger screen. The small size is utilized well with just the vital information displayed within your line of sight. This along with the squarish shape of the steering wheel, also adds to visibility. The centrepiece of the cabin though is the big 15.1-inch OLED central touchscreen. This system runs the Unreal engine and is especially crisp with its high frame-rate display, vibrant graphics and logical layout. So despite no physical redundancies you get used to functions reasonably quickly enough.

With most functions touch-based, the inherent practicality of an EV-specific architecture has freed up quite a bit of space. So you have two wireless charging pads, a deep central compartment and usefully large door bins. The seats take this sense forward with their large degree of adjustment along with heating, ventilation and massaging functions. Despite their sporty look, they are comfortable over longer journeys with just the right amount of support and cushioning.

The Lotus Eletre will also not leave rear passengers wanting, a great attribute for India. You don't have a sunroof or sunblinds and the coupe-like shape eats into headroom for taller passengers (a sense enhanced by the dark trim of this particular car) but other than this the rear seats are a convincingly luxurious space.

This is especially true when you tick the optional captain seat layout as seen here. With this, you get individual chairs very similar to those in the front, with the same degree of adjustment as well as heating and ventilation functions. Expectedly, they feel similar to the front ones in their comfort. The EV architecture pays dividends here too with a generous helping of leg and knee room.

The folding 8-inch screen here will get your co-passengers talking, through which you also control the vent position and climate functions of the four-zone system along with the sound settings. Thoughtfully, the front passenger seat can also be pushed forward through here to free up more space. There are more usefull storage spaces here. You have a sliding cabinet below the fixed centre console and one more between the seats too, aside from a central cubby and charging pads.

Lotus Eletre features and safety

Bucking the trend of obscenely-priced options, the Lotus Eletre is well-equipped in this top R trim. You have matrix LED lighting, frameless doors, a PM 2.5 air filter, active noise cancellation, soft-close doors, navigation, ambient lighting, 23-speaker KEF audio and heated and cooled seats all around.

There's also good safety. The Lidar makes the Eletre Level 3 ADAS-ready but you have level 2 ADAS currently available including door open and parking functions. There's also hill-descent control and lightweight aluminium discs.

Lotus Eletre battery, range and charging

The Lotus Eletre is based on an 800V architecture and fed by a 112 kWh battery pack. The cells are fitted directly into the structural casing to reduce weight and increase energy density. So the Eletre R gets a WLTP range of 500 km while the base Eletre and Eletre S grow to 600 km.

In the real world, we estimate that the Eletre R will do over 400 to 450 km on a full charge when driven calmly. In our time with it, we saw a range readout of 400 km at 90 per cent charge and the readout seemed dependable enough given the heavy driving we put the Lotus through.

The Eletre can also be charged as quickly as anything else around, with DC fast charging speeds of up to 350 kW. More usefully, the AC charging speed is 22 kW so home charging won't be especially time-consuming either.

Lotus Eletre driving impressions, performance

The Lotus Eletre R is the most powerful SUV you can buy in the country right now, with its dual-motor set-up putting out 905PS and 985 Nm. The R gets a two-speed transmission to manage these massive outputs better. You have a 0 to 100 kmph time of 2.95s, which sounds even more impressive when you realize that the Eletre R's kerb weight is 2.9 tonnes.

But start driving this hyper-SUV and it's nothing close to as intimidating as these numbers suggest, especially in the more sedate Range and Tour modes. To start with, you sit in a nicely-judged position so placing this quite sizeable car in traffic isn't especially difficult. In these modes, power delivery is also well-judged. In the range mode, it's a soft consistent push that adds to the SUV's manageable nature at slow speeds. The wick turns up a notch in the default Tour mode, where more performance is unlocked and as you start going faster, there is a greater sense of urgency. The power builds is a swell here but is still softly rounded off to be manageable in most situations. You don't have one-pedal driving but the highest regen mode is tuned well enough to be useful in our conditions.

We wouldn't spec the Elere with the 23-inchers seen here tough. They're a handful when you need to negotiate rough roads and add a stiff edge to the ride over these surfaces. But you still notice some of that legendary Lotus suspension magic, in the way that these imperfections don't jar through and generally pliant damping that might be fully utilized in our conditions with a set of 21 or 22-inch wheels.

Aside from the Lotus firsts of it being an EV and an SUV, the Eletre is also the first Lotus to get AWD and electronic steering. See things from the perspective of a nearly 3-tonne electric SUV, and you sense that the traditional Lotus traits have been carried forward well in this scenario. It's quite easy to find a rhythm along a flowing set of corners, the slight lean is are well judged given the anti-roll function and the Eletre generally feels light on its feet.

You have a reasonably good sense of balance coming through the car as well. In the higher drive modes, the steering feels precise and more direct, the rear-wheel steer also seems to do its job of making the Eletre feel smaller than it is. Here, the suspension stiffens a bit for better control but without losing too much of the good damping. In these scenarios, you can also lean on the regen braking confidently. It flows naturally into the friction braking to not break from the quite fluid experience. That said, the throttle response in the Sport mode can sometimes feel a touch too energetic. The SUV almost lulls you into forgetting its potency, which shows itself in quite an exciting gush of performance when you are a touch heavy footed.

Lotus Eletre price, verdict

The Lotus Eletre impresses with its striking looks, the tech on offer and the pleasing quality of its interiors. Prices start from Rs 2.55 crore for the base version, going up to Rs 2.75 crore for the S and to Rs 2.99 crore for the R. Surprisingly, it's quite the deal when seen against its ICE rivals. It's simply the most powerful SUV you can buy in the country and, for an EV, some of that Lotus magic seems to have been retained in the way it drives.

Images by Anis Shaikh

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Price (Ex-Delhi)
Starts Rs 3 Crore
Max Power(ps)
Max Torque(Nm)
Price (Ex-Delhi)
Starts Rs 80.9 Lakhs
Max Power(ps)
Max Torque(Nm)
12.21 Kmpl