Set to debut in 2022, this SUV will be the lightest and best handling on the market.
The sales success of the Porsche Macan has inspired Lotus, which envisions a future for itself where it's more mainstream sports car manufacturer and less niche automaker, kind of like Stuttgart's finest. The most logical mean that Lotus sees to that end is a lightweight SUV, which we recently announced would be built alongside a line of modernized sports cars once the British automaker had found a technical partner. According to Autocar, Lotus has just found said partner and has commenced development on an SUV.
A design has not yet been finalized and no one has signed off on production yet, but Lotus is likely already working with its Chinese engineering partner Goldstar Heavy Industrial on the first prototypes of the car. Like the Macan, Lotus is gunning for an SUV that's on the smaller end of the spectrum in order to adhere loosely to its DNA (since an SUV defies everything we once thought Lotus stood for). Regardless of the attempt to escape the niche segment, the SUV itself would be an outlier compared to its Porsche, Alfa Romeo, and Jaguar counterparts because according to Lotus boss Jean-Marc Gales, "no one makes a lightweight, good-handling SUV. It's a niche, and it looks well positioned."
The main point to take away from this is that a Lotus SUV would have a stronger emphasis on handling and relative weightlessness, which we personally aren't sold on. Not that a Lotus SUV would be a bad seller, it's just that it seems far-fetched to expect the same group of people who splurge on an SUV with a sporty badge and a bit of leather would be willing to exchange comfort and off-road ability for sportiness. Those who do care about sportiness are more likely to buy Lotus' line of soon-to-be-refreshed sports cars, which include the 2020 Elise, its Exige sibling, and the 2022 Evora. On the other hand, Lotus isn't chasing huge numbers, with Gales expecting the SUV to double output from its current level of around 2,000 cars per year to 4,000.
Until the SUV comes, which could be in as soon as four or five years if all goes to plan, Lotus will focus on bettering its current lineup by reducing weight, bettering aerodynamics, adding luxury amenities, and improving its infotainment systems. We just hope Lotus knows what it's doing because despite the fact that the company is struggling to gain traction with any group of enthusiasts save for the diehard fans, we'd miss the spunky little automaker if it was wiped off of our radars.