New Lotus Carlton - saloon icon's shock 2024 return as 600bhp Taycan rival

New Lotus Carlton - saloon icon's shock 2024 return as 600bhp Taycan rival

Hethel brand’s EV era will ramp up with a saloon packing up to 904bhp, a compact SUV and a ‘pure' sports car.

Lotus will accelerate its reinvention as an EV-only premium brand in the next three years with the arrivals of a new electric saloon and crossover designed to dramatically increase its sales volume — followed by a new line-up-crowning sports car that will affirm its performance credentials.

These three models will follow the new Eletre, which is both the British firm's first series-production EV and its first SUV. Lotus is now owned by Chinese car giant Geely, which has invested heavily in ramping up the facilities at two sites. The Lotus base in Hethel, Norfolk, will remain home to sports car production, while the higher- volume EVs will be produced at a new Lotus Technology facility in Wuhan, China.

New 2024 Lotus compact SUV - Porsche Macan rival

New 2024 Lotus compact SUV — Porsche Macan rival

That facility has an annual production capacity of 150,000 units, which Lotus has set as its annual sales target for 2028 onwards. Production there will be split between the Eletre, a new electric saloon codenamed Type 133 and a smaller crossover known as Type 134. These models represent the core of the boldest product offensive in Lotus's 75-year history and will push its annual sales to unprecedented levels.

Deliveries of the Eletre — a rival to the Porsche Cayenne and Lamborghini Urus — have just begun in China and the model is set to arrive in Europe in the coming months. It uses Lotus’s bespoke Electric Premium Architecture (EPA), an aluminium-based platform that can accept a wide range of battery sizes and powertrain layouts and will be shared with the next two models.

Type 133 to take on Taycan Set to be revealed late this year, the Type 133 will be the first Lotus performance saloon since the early-1990s Vauxhall-based Carlton and is set to be particularly popular in China and the US — crucial markets for Lotus. Around five metres long, the Porsche Taycan rival will be positioned as the most luxurious model in the firm's line-up.

The Type 133 is in the late stages of development. Test versions have been spotted on the road in a promotional camouflage livery and late prototypes are already going down Wuhan's production line.

The Type 133 will be similar in size to the Polestar 5 grand tourer due on sale next year, but Lotus managing director Matt Windle has previously said that while there is some technology transfer, Geely allows its brands, which include Polestar, to conduct development independently. This means the models will be tangibly different in every key aspect.

Spy shots show that the Type 133 will feature sleek styling, a sloping roof and design cues from the Evija and Eletre. Lotus has placed a major focus on its dynamic development, given the model will be tasked with taking on the Taycan and Audi E-tron GT. It will feature similar chassis technology to the Eletre — including air suspension, rearwheel steer, active roll control and active aerodynamics — but engineered to a different brief.

No technical details of the Type 133 have been revealed yet, but it is expected to closely follow the Eletre. This means entry-level versions are likely to offer around 602bhp from a twin-motor set-up, closely matching the Taycan GTS. The top-spec Eletre R features a more powerful rear motor that lifts output to 904bhp.

TheType133will retain the Eletre’s 112kWh battery pack, which could give the sleek saloon a range of more than 400 miles. The EPA platform allows for fast charging at speeds of up to 420kW.

Asked how the Type 133 will stack up to performance EV rivals such as the Taycan, new Lotus commercial chief Mike Johnstone told Autocar: “When you look at performance, we’ll be in a good place, both in terms of handling and 0-60mph speeds. “In terms of charging, it will have the same platform as the Eletre so it can go from 10% to 80% in less than 20 minutes. We’ve got a number of key things we’ve taken from the Eletre you’ll see [in the Type 133], which will give us a good point of differentiation.”

Lotus has yet to reveal the model’s name. Johnstone confirmed it will follow Lotus convention and start with an E but denied reports it will be Envya, one of several names Lotus has registered.

Type 134: Macan rival to be the main volume driver Once the Type 133 saloon goes on sale next year, it will be followed soon after by the Type 134, a smaller SUV that will serve as the entry point to the revamped Lotus line-up.

Johnstone said the company expects the Type 134 to account for half of its annual sales by 2028, which would put the model at about 75,000 units per year.

Lotus has yet to reveal firm details of the machine, but Johnstone hinted that it will use a different platform, which is likely to be a variant of the EPA architecture intended for smaller models. It will be less than five metres New Macan rival is tipped to take 50% of all Lotus's sales long, most likely giving it similar dimensions to the Polestar 4 and making it a rival to the upcoming Porsche Macan EV.

TheType134 will share technology with the Eletre and Type 133, although its more affordable positioning and more compact size could mean that it features smaller battery options. As with the Eletre, there is expected to be a strong focus on aerodynamics to optimise range and performance, which is likely to result in a rakish, coupe-esque roofline.

While the Type 134 will be tasked with delivering the bulk of Lotus’s planned sales growth, Johnstone insisted that making sure it maintains the firm’s core philosophy of performance and driving dynamics will be at the core of development.

“A lot of effort has gone into ensuring the future cars that we introduce to the market handle in a way that you would expect a Lotus to handle,” said Johnstone. “Take Eletre: the attributes team have been involved in its development, people who understand what a Lotus should feel like and drive. It isn’t just an electrified SUV with a Lotus badge on it: it’s


Lotus commercial boss Mike Johnstone said the firm currently has no plans for derivative versions of its upcoming line-up, such as a Type 133 shooting brake, but added: “Consumer tastes change, new market segments appear and new technologies come into play that mean we could do things in a different way — and we’re always looking for new opportunities to make sure we can maximise the amount of return on any investment we make."

Lotus has so far only confirmed its product roadmap until 2026, when the new sports car (see overleaf) will arrive. Although planning is already under way, Johnstone hinted that the line-up could be adapted based on market changes.

“The product plan at the moment is the three cars we have now [Evija, Emira and Eletre] and the three coming in the future," he said. “We have to be dynamic with that plan. We’re constantly looking at how we can ensure we maximise the potential in the marketplace."

A lot of effort has gone into ensuring future cars handle in a way you expect a Lotus to handle

No comments yet. Be the first to add a comment!
Drives TODAY use cookie