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Could this Lotus have been the greatest SUV ever?

No, because all SUVs are terrible, of course

  • Is this the Lotus we’ve been waiting for?

    You probably shouldn’t wait for much longer, because this is Lotus’s APX concept from the 2006 Geneva motor show. It stands for Aluminium Performance Crossover, doing exactly what it says on the tin. 

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  • Doesn’t it look a bit like a Proton?

    It certainly does have more of a Malaysian air about it than something that might be produced in Norfolk. Look at those exotic swooping lines, the pointy rear hatch and triangular grille. It’s a pièce de résistance that really wouldn’t take much resisting. Proton still owned Lotus at this point, of course, so it’s easy to imagine the APX being put forward internally as an ideal candidate for Proton’s tiger head badge in a market that doesn't really care much for styling.

  • What’s under the skin?

    Your mother might have told you that it’s what’s underneath that counts. Certainly the case here – the all-aluminium APX was built on an innovative platform to show off what the geniuses at Lotus Engineering could do for your car company. The APX – a working concept car, might we add – also featured a delightful Lotus surprise squeezed into the engine bay. The 3.0-litre supercharged V6 was designed in-house to highlight some of the weight saving techniques the company had been developing. Production models have mostly relied on powerplants from Toyota and General Motors.

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  • What about the numbers?

    In this scenario, the APX’s engine produced 300bhp and 266lb ft of torque. Its 0-62mph was around five seconds, and top speed was 152mph. The all-aluminium construction would have made for an impressive (for a sporting SUV with permanent four-wheel drive) fuel consumption of 32mpg thanks to a kerbweight of 1,560kg. Not bad at all for a seven-seater. 

  • It all sounds lovely, but couldn’t it have been electric?

    Well, Lotus read your mind – who even wants a 3.0-litre supercharged V6 engine, anyway? High power and delicious engine noise is for chumps. In 2007, Lotus announced a partnership with ZAP to build the APX – or rather the ZAP-X as it then became known – as an electric crossover and sell it in the USA. Which of course didn’t happen.  

  • A motor show reveal that didn’t make production? Sounds familiar

    It’s easy to be cynical about these things, but the APX’s production no-show was knocked right out of the park by the now-infamous press conference at the 2010 Paris motor show, where then-Lotus boss Dany Bahar called upon an exceedingly odd collection of celebrities to take the wraps off five new cars that looked like they been rustled up on the way to the show. This car here was supposed to be the new Lotus Elise, revealed of course by Mickey Rourke and Brian May.

  • They can’t have been serious about the APX, though?

    Well Lotus wasn’t really planning to put it into production at the time – the idea behind the APX was to show off Lotus’s new VVA platform. It stood for variable vehicle architecture, and was supposed to show how Lotus could build a whole range of limited-run cars off a single, highly adaptable platform. For some reason, this extremely flexible money saving solution was limited to saving some money on production of the Elise, Exige and Evora. 

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  • I really think Lotus should make an SUV

    But of course – nothing speaks to Colin Chapman’s ‘just add lightness’ philosophy more than a pointlessly increased ride height and massive amounts of extra sheet metal on top of a bloated chassis. Everyone else is building them, though, and Lotus needs to make money at some point. The good news is that the firm is now owned by Chinese carmaker Geely, which means it’s vaguely related to Volvo and can steal some Swedish tech for its new SUV. Just add Volvo, in this case. The all-electric SUV is supposed to be arriving in 2022. Unless it doesn’t.

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