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You Never Forget Your First: 2024 Lotus Eletre S Review

As a lifelong car enthusiast, Lotus Cars has always been familiar to me in some respect. I was first introduced to the brand via James May’s choice of the Excel in the Campervan Challenge, then an Esprit V8 in the Patagonia Special and Lotus’ involvement in F1 of course, Kimi Raikkonen anyone?!

However, it wasn’t until the 2020s when I got to be more hands on with the brand. Having two friends who are Lotus nuts has meant passing a few frightening weekends in the passenger seat of an Exige 390 Final Edition and an Esprit V8. Becoming acquainted with Chris from Lotus Auckland has also seen me spend a few hours in New Zealand’s home of the brand. All these people have certainly warmed my sentiment towards the brand even though I’d never actually driven one. Until now that is!

Enter the Lotus Eletre S. When Chris and his associate Charlotte threw me the keys or rather handed them over gingerly (it is a $350k car!), I didn’t know what to expect in all honesty. If my previous experiences with the brand were anything to go by, the car would be scary for sure but still, I was in unfamiliar territory here and as were Lotus.

Remember that Lotus honed their name and history making small, lightweight sportscars with the occasional 2+2 thrown in to offer “practicality”. Never before had the brand offered an SUV let alone an EV. Still, it had a Lotus badge on the nose and I’m one who takes people (and cars) at face value unless proven otherwise.

Front three quarters view of a 2024 Lotus Eletre S in black.
Eletre S is an eye catcher wherever it goes!

Even though the Eletre is an entirely new frontier for Lotus, this is a brand that knows a thing or two about performance be it in a straight line or around a corner. It is fitting then that the Eletre looks fast even when parked. Its sharp lines, large vents and dramatic roofline all indicate that this is a seriously quick car.

Yes it is fast as I’ll make clear later but when parked or in slow moving traffic, it attracts eyeballs like you wouldn’t believe. I even found myself searching for spotless shop windows just so I could catch a glimpse of its reflection. While out for dinner at Da Sette Soldi, one of my favourite Italian spots in the city, I snagged a coveted parking space out front to observe the reactions the car would get. People passing by were craning their necks when the car came into view, it sparked curiosity, amazement and most certainly, desire.

Rear three quarters view of a 2024 Lotus Eletre S in Black with a coastal background.
Looks quick even when parked!

Even in this optional Stellar Black, the most inconspicuous colour available on Eletre, it was hard to go anywhere unnoticed. Admittedly, I did have the rear wing up at all times to alleviate the car’s cool factor but even still, its allure is undeniable. The Eletre is similarly indisputable when it comes to size. Measuring in at over five metres (5.1m) and at over two metres wide, it is gargantuan but does a stellar job of hiding its proportions.

Go for the Galloway Green (my pick) or Solar Yellow paint options and you can bid goodbye to a career as a private investigator. The exterior can further be jazzed up with a wide range of optional wheels (this car had the 23 inch multi-spokes), painted brake calipers and plenty of carbon fibre.

Quartz optioned interior on a 2024 Lotus Eletre S with a coastal outlook from the windscreen.
Eletre’s interior is where traditional luxury and modern technology meet

Similarly, there’s a vast array of options available for the interior. However, they all center around a theme of which there are five choices. This review model was specified with the Quartz theme and brought light grey vegan leather seats with yellow stitching and highlights, adding pops of colour to an airy interior.

Every surface felt beautiful to touch, soft materials used all throughout with a quality build made for a luxurious combination. Considering that this is the grandest interior ever to be fitted to a Lotus, a stellar job has been done in its execution. The sparing but conscious use of buttons are a welcome change from the temptation of complete minimalism seen on some EVs, although a central volume switch would have been welcome.

Sitting prominently in the middle is the inviting central infotainment screen. At 15.1 inches, it’s large but doesn’t overpower the dashboard given the size of the car. It controls quite literally everything although, I mostly found myself interacting with it for frivolous purposes. For the essential tasks, there’s climate switches in the middle and steering controls for the audio.

I mentioned the word “frivolous” before and my review car was just that. It was optioned with the ‘Interior Carbon Pack’ for one, adding inserts to the interior panels. Specified with the ‘Comfort Seat Pack’ which brought ventilated and massage seats, I found myself using the latter often. The central infotainment unit also controls the electronic rear wing as well as the optional ‘Intelligent Glass Roof’ which can go opaque or remain clear with just a slide of a finger! Then there’s the audio, I’m reliable informed that the 1380W 15-speaker KEF system is plentiful but this upgraded 2160W 23-speaker 3D KEF system was surreal. Tears For Fears’ ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World‘ and Pet Shop Boys’ ‘Always On My Mind‘ were two particularly standout auditory experiences that spring to mind.

Spring is certainly something the Eletre S does well. Yes, it may weigh circa 3 tonnes when full and its 112kWhr battery and luxurious interior don’t reek of lightness but it is mighty powerful. Putting out 600bhp, 450kW and 710Nm means this Lotus will go from 0-100 in 4.5s! Sport mode allows access to this power but for most, Tour will prove substantial. It was my preferred mode too, offering the best balance of power and comfort. There’s Range also if you’re keen on that 600km claimed figure.

Balance is something the Eletre S does immensely well. It goes around corners in a way that defies the laws of physics while remaining planted in a straight line, putting down its power in a manner that is breathtaking rather than heart stopping. Wide tyres help it keep firmly to the road at all times while properly beefy brakes will happily bail the driver out when over enthusiasm sets in. Offering plenty of power and engagement on tap for the spirited back road blast as well as refinement for daily use, Eletre S does well to harness its hyper abilities.

Lotus Eletre badge on the rear panel of a Black Lotus Eletre S.
Eletre S is a stellar effort from Lotus for the brand’s first SUV and EV!

The Verdict

To close, Lotus’ new hyper-electric SUV is everything you weren’t expecting from the brand but at the same time, everything you wanted it to be. Even though my relationship with Lotus doesn’t span decades, I would rather the brand remain existent and manufacture hyper electric vehicles for daily use rather than stick to its old guns and fade into certain obscurity. The automotive world is changing and if Lotus wanted to remain part of it then they needed to be daring which is exactly what they’ve done with the Eletre.

There’ll be haters and lovers as every Lotus has had historically, that’s the beauty of the Eletre. It’s different, very much so, but inherently retains that magical appeal that the brand has always carried. As the phrase goes, “you never forget your first” and the memory of spending a weekend behind the wheel of a Lotus Eletre S certainly won’t fade from mine anytime soon.

2024 Lotus Eletre S: 5/5

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

Words and pictures by Matthew D’Souza. Car courtesy of Lotus Cars Auckland.

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