A hybrid powertrain is also on the cards for the new Lotus SUV.
As a company that prides itself on making ultra-lightweight sports cars with go kart-style handling, Lotus seemed like one of the least likely automakers to jump on the SUV bandwagon. But like other performance car manufacturers, Lotus needs a profitable mass market model to ensure its long-term survival – particularly as its financial history is less than stellar. Luckily, the company was recently rescued by China's Geely, giving Lotus a new lease of life. Now that the company’s finances are stable, the Lotus SUV is back on track.
Geely’s acquisition means that Lotus has access to Volvo’s modular platforms, and according to Autocar the SUV is likely to use the same SPA platform as the Volvo XC90 and XC60, which are relatively light SUVs thanks to the platform’s use of high-strength steel. As a result, don’t expect the Lotus SUV to have any compromises in the handling department. Thanks to its Volvo underpinnings, CEO Jean Marc Gales expects it to have the best handling in its class. “It will go round bends like nothing else in its segment,” he said. “If we fail on that we fail the project.” As for proportions, expect the Lotus SUV to be roughly the same size as the Maserati Levante and weigh less than two tonnes.
The SPA platform would restrict the SUV to four-cylinder engines, but Gales told Autocar that a hybrid option will be available, which could also be sourced from Volvo or possibly Polestar. There’s potential here for the Lotus SUV to adopt a very powerful powertrain, since the Polestar 1 features a plug-in hybrid powertrain with 600 horsepower on tap and also rides on the SPA platform. Inside, the Lotus SUV will also inherit Volvo’s interior design and tech, including a large touchscreen. “I love the new Volvo interiors because they are so simple,” said Gales. The SUV’s design will be finalized within the next two months, which the CEO assures will still be recognizable as a Lotus.
It will most likely be built at China, but the UK is another possibility. “I can imagine two places worldwide and I’d love one for the UK, but I want to know what happens after Brexit,” he said. While Lotus is committed to building a rival to the Maserati Levante and Porsche Macan, we probably won’t see the automaker's first SUV for at least another four years yet. That’s because Lotus is launching two new sports cars in 2020. The first will act as a replacement for an existing model like the Exige or Evora, while the second will be a hardcore track-focused model.