Lotus goes premium with Eletre SUV

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Lotus has unveiled its Eletre electric SUV, a marked departure from the company’s stock-in-trade of lightweight sportscars. With the move to the premium SUV market comes a need for an interior befitting the segment, and the Eletre certainly packs far more luxury than traditional Lotus owners are used to.

“The Eletre is a bold and revolutionary new car, delivering on our commitment to move Lotus into completely new automotive segments as we widen our global appeal and accessibility,” said Matt Windle, MD of Lotus Cars, at the vehicle’s launch. “This is a momentous point in our history and a clear signal of our ongoing desire to transform our business. It is a true Lotus, and we’re confident it will delight performance car customers and offer a distinct alternative to the segment’s established players. The Eletre has the soul of a Lotus and the usability of an SUV. Alongside the Emira sports car, this is the perfect two-car garage from Lotus.”

Lotus describes the interior as a “performance-oriented and technical design, which is visually lightweight, using ultra-premium materials to deliver an exceptional customer experience.” Notably, the debut model featured four individual seats, an option which will be available to customers alongside the more traditional five-seat layout.

In line with other manufacturers, sustainability is touted as a core focus of the design, Lotus saying it has worked closely with supplier Kvadrat on material choices. The interior uses premium feel, durable man-made microfibers on the primary touchpoints, and a wool-blend fabric on the seats. This is said to be 50% lighter than traditional leather, an important consideration in an EV.

Many of the hard surfaces are formed from carbon fiber, though rather than use a traditional weave, Lotus opted for recycled the fibers trimmed from the edge of woven cloths during production. These are reconstructed into matting, then compressed in a resin to create a premium marble-like finish.

The driver-focused cockpit and high center console are inspired by the designs of the Lotus Emira and Evija sportscars. In addition to the layout and use of textures to try and create a premium feel, the interior design is augmented by a triangular theme – mirroring that seen externally on the car’s active front grille.

The infotainment system is the result of a collaboration between the Lotus design teams in Warwickshire and China (where the Eletra will be built) and sports some unique features. For example, below the instrument panel a blade of light runs across the cabin, sitting in a ribbed channel that widens at each end to create the air vents. While it appears to be floating, the light is more than decorative and forms part of the HMI. It changes color to communicate with occupants, for example, if a phone call is received, if the cabin temperature is changed, or to reflect the vehicle’s battery charge status.

Below the light is what Lotus dubs a ‘ribbon of technology’ which provides the front seat occupants with information. Ahead of the driver the traditional instrument cluster binnacle has been reduced to a slim strip less than 30mm high to communicate key vehicle and journey information. It’s replicated on the passenger side, where different information can be displayed, for example, music selection or nearby points of interest. Between the two is an OLED touchscreen, a 15.1in landscape interface which provides access to the car’s infotainment system. It automatically folds flat when not required. Information can also be displayed to the driver via a head-up display featuring augmented reality (AR) technology, which is standard equipment on the car.

While every element of the Eletre can be controlled digitally, certain key controls are duplicated with analog switches while voice control via speech recognition technology is also available.

The standard audio system on the car is provided by renowned British brand KEF. Called KEF Premium, it is a 1,380W, 15-speaker set-up featuring the firm’s Uni-Q and surround sound technology. Uni-Q dispenses with separated tweeter and mid-range speakers, instead combining both into an acoustically idealized single unit. It covers the entire mid and high-frequency sound spectrum from a single point in space, delivering a more coherent, hyper-realistic sound experience.

Customers can upgrade to KEF Reference, a 2,160W, 23-speaker system with Uni-Q and the addition of 3D surround sound technology. KEF Reference also features Uni-Core, said to be a new approach to speaker and subwoofer design. It uses two dual force-canceling drivers with concentrically arranged and overlapping voice coils, driven by a single motor. This enables high-level performance while reducing the subwoofer or speaker volume significantly.

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he is responsible for content across UKI Media & Events' portfolio of websites while also writing for the company's print titles.

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