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Car Review

Lotus Eletre review

£90,750 - £126,250
Published: 31 May 2024


What is it like on the inside?

And we come to another huge step for the Lotus brand, because the Eletre embraces technology in a big way. And it’s not pared-back or simplified for the interior. Or, in this case, the exterior either. But first, the insides. Plenty of space for four (there is a four-seat interior option) or five is the basic takeaway, decent boot at 688 litres, but that’s measured to the (heavily sloped) roofline and isn't massive for the size of the car.

The boot floor is also a long way off the deck. This is not a very good pooch-carrier. And if you have the flash four seat layout, the seats don’t fold flat. The 46-litre frunk looks much smaller than that and is largely useless unless you smuggle paperback books for a living.

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And for the driver?

In front is a 12.6-inch important driver info strip behind a hexagonal steering wheel, plus a big head-up display and a 15.1-inch OLED touchscreen in the middle, with a couple of small rockers for air con underneath. Split paddles behind the wheel deal with brake regen (left) and driving modes (right). There’s wireless charging and enough storage.

The front seat passenger also has a touchscreen strip of their own (which, let’s face it, is a bit annoying when a road trip companion or child has direct access to playlists). There’s a digital personal assistant (voice control) and OTA updates.

It looks a bit glitzy inside…

Yeah, in pictures the Eletre looks a bit over-the-top, but in person we found it to be generally lovely. The clothy bits are Re-Fibre made from fashion industry waste fabric, and it’s really nice. There are also optional UltraFabric seats made from polyurethane (half the weight of leather), carbon neutral Alcantara and Econyl carpets made from 100 per cent post-consumer waste. Which always sounds vaguely unsanitary, but makes for a nice weave. Ok, so these things are a bit of marketing spin on a car that vomits CO2 quite heavily during production, but it all helps.

Better than that, it all fits together properly, feels tactile and sits together logically. It’s a really nice place to sit. On top of all that, there’s a lot of ADAS. There are 34 – yes, count ‘em, 34 – sensors on the Eletre. Four deployable LIDAR (two in pop-up turrets either end of the roof and two on the front wings), six radar, seven cameras and 12 ultrasonics. There are a pair of NVIDIA Orin-X chips doing all the brainwork, and one stat that appeals is that they can manage 500 TOPS (trillion operations per second). Which sounds like a lot.

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It maps absolutely everything and is apparently Level 4 autonomy capable, though there’s no legal framework for it to operate as such just yet. As far as it goes, the mega-cruise control/Highway Assist is pretty darn good. One thing it can’t do is stop some of the basic ADAS from being super-annoying though: speed limit warnings and lane-keep assist need switching off every time you get in the car, and they need to be more easily accessed than three/four elements deep in the menu.

Does the tech sit easily with Lotus’ history?

The tech onslaught is a big part of the Eletre’s game-plan, but it’s clearly at odds with Lotus’s ‘for the drivers’ marketing schtick. But legislation won’t permit cars without all this now, unless you’re a Caterham-sized minnow.

We’ve had regular warning messages that one of the front or rear cameras was out of action and occasions when the Eletre’s sensors mistook a parked car for an object it figured we were about to hit. At which point the soothing ambient lighting pulsed red and a terrifying warning sound engulfed the cabin. Intrusive ADAS is not an Eletre-specific problem, but surely it should be easier to switch off?

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