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Interstellar Traveler: 2024 Lotus Eletre R Review

Before my trysts with the Lotus Eletre range began, my review was supposed to be solely of the Eletre R. However, the car became unavailable on the day so when I arrived at Lotus Auckland, Chris offered me a choice. In one hand, he held the keys to the Eletre S and in the other, nothing. Either I could take the Eletre S home for a weekend or just be home for a weekend.

If you’ve read my review of the Eletre S then you’ll know which one I chose. And if you hadn’t, now you know! After making my choice, I was half expecting John Quinones to come out from the back and accost me with the “What Would You Do?” spiel. In all honestly though, anyone with a modicum of sense and a bit of derring-do would have done the same.

As you’ll know from my review, the Eletre S received much fanfare from yours truly. The styling, luxury, quality and performance of course were all to my taste. It didn’t lack in any department and certainly not in its appeal as a Lotus with the brand name sparking curiosity everywhere I went. However, the Lotus Eletre is billed as a “hyper SUV” and while the S was rapid, there’s another letter in this range.

So let me lift the curtains and introduce the Lotus Eletre R. If the S was hyper then the R is on steroids and probably some other stuff too. But before I get behind the wheel of the R, let’s try and spot the cues that denote this brisk SUV from the rest of the Eletre range.

Front three quarters view of a 2024 Lotus Eletre R in Kaimu Grey in an underground carpark.
The one letter and 300 hp upgrade are made with discretion in mind. Photo credit: Zidan Zou.

To the untrained eye and those who’ve misplaced their glasses, there’s the temptation to say the car pictured above looks like a regular Eletre. And they’d be right too! Nothing really stands out to denote it as an R but that’s where I can educate you. The eagle eyed ones amongst you would have already spotted the carbon accents buried in the sea of vents dotting the aforementioned Lotus.

Yes, the R comes with the ‘Carbon Fibre Pack’ as standard which brings a carbon fibre finished front lower lip, side mirror covers and a rear diffuser. The review model here also comes with the ‘Extended Carbon Pack’ which brought carbon fibre finished rear bumper panels, wheel arches, door decorations and other bits. ‘Active Aero Pack’ is standard too and brings that active rear spoiler, air dam and a carbon “endplate” on that rear spoiler. However, both of these aren’t particularly unique ways of spotting an Eletre R as they can be optioned on the S as well.

The wheels, brakes and tyres are shared across both cars too. As are the more customizable options with Kaimu Grey (pictured) being the only complimentary colour across both cars, the R also receives Solar Yellow as a no cost option. Galloway Green and Solar Yellow would have to be my pick but as it turns out, you don’t even have to choose a bright colour to be seen! During my stint with this Kaimu Grey R, there was a noticeable difference in the number of heads turned by the car, the Eletre is eye catching as it is but throw in a bit of colour and the whole world or at least the bystanders on Ponsonby Road start to take notice!

What the above should make apparent to you is that Lotus have spent the extra cash on performance upgrades that can’t be seen by the trained eye but can certainly be felt by all as you’ll see later. Watch our video review above to really see what the extra power can do!

A Magnetite interior specification was chosen to pair with the exterior colour. This combination brings Anthracite/Grey coloured Nappa Leather upholstery to the party. The merit of which was pointed out to me by a keen car enthusiast who approached me while I was charging the R, one touch of the seats had him asking if it was Nappa Leather and when confirmed, he smiled to me and pointed out the premium feeling of the material.

As was the case with the S, you seldom find yourself wanting for more luxuries while in the interior of the R. However, there were a few things I missed from the former car. For one, the 23-speaker KEF 3-D audio system is a must, the R standard 15-speaker KEF system is good, undoubtedly but it is hard not to pine for the more immersive system once you’ve heard the difference!

And you are constantly reminded of your decision to choose the road less taken with the Lotus. Nods to the brand’s history, colours and origins dot the cabin via small plaques and bright seatbelts. You’ll be glad to know that it’s a Lotus in the way it drives too. 905hp on tap means the 0-100 sprint is clocked in at 2.95 seconds. Those figures also read as 675kW and 985 Nm if you needed to be wowed further. Put your foot to the floor and the Eletre R takes off like a rocket headed for the stratosphere!

In my previous review, I mentioned that frightened feeling one gets from spending time in a Lotus Exige or Esprit V8, the Eletre R offered the same. It takes some serious guts to hold on and keep pushing on because the car could do this all day but if you’re like me, you need a break after a few sprints, mostly to catch your breath and restore your organs to their regular places. You get the resounding feeling that pushing on could propel you off surface of the planet and into a galaxy far away. It is frighteningly quick, so much so that it would merit using an expletive to describe its pace but no chance of that as my parents read my articles!

Straight line speed is all well and good but what happens when a corner comes into view, they generally tend to appear quite quickly at that speed too. Simply (but confidently) turn the wheel and the Eletre R will go around said corner. It is just as well that it comes with ‘Lotus Dynamic Handling Pack’ as standard, the rear wheel steering and anti-roll control making a monumental difference to the experience. It may carry similar dimensions (and weight) to a small country estate but the vastness of its power makes it float like a butterfly in a gentle spring breeze. Even more wondrous is the fact that it can do all of this without a sound from the tyres. Seriously, the R is so juiced up that when the rear wheels kick in with their 600hp of power, you can feel the chassis flex and the two speed gearbox engage. It makes an airplane’s acceleration feel paltry in comparison.

The Verdict

Rapid and luxurious, the Eletre R is the antithesis of Lotus’ founding principles but if there was a brand that could make a near three tonne electric SUV handle like this, it would have to be them! It may only be 1.6 seconds quicker to 100kph than the Eletre S but my word, have they made that seemingly small amount of time feel like a lifetime! Though I suspect the R is just a tad too powerful for a daily driver but to quote Spider Man’s Uncle Ben who said “with great power comes great responsibility”, if you are going to buy an Eletre R, make sure you take a driving course or two, Uncle Ben recommends it.

However, something I recommend you don’t do for the sake of your own happiness is spend two consecutive weeks behind the wheels of the Lotus Eletre range. Why you may ask? Well, that’s because the hardest part of the last fortnight has been returning two sets of Eletre keys back to the hands of Chris & Charlotte, saying cheerio never got easier!

With that, I conclude my double review on the Lotus Eletre S and R models, they produced some of most memorable weekends I’ve had as a car reviewer.

2024 Lotus Eletre R: 4/5

Thanks for reading! For more Lotus news and reviews, visit Tarmac Life.

Words and photos by Matthew D’Souza, unless stated otherwise. Car courtesy of Lotus Cars Auckland.

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