BBC Top Gear Magazine – September 2023
English | 156 pages | pdf | 91.2 MB

Of all the showdowns we’ve had on the cover of BBC Top Gear Magazine over the years – Ferrari F50 vs F1 car, the hypercar Holy Trinity, Bugatti Veyron vs… two more Bugatti Veyrons – ‘Lotus takes on Tesla’ is the coverline I never thought I’d write. But here we are, the year is 2023 and everything is turning turtle.
It would be easy to get salty about Lotus daring to produce an electric SUV, built in China, aimed primarily at the Chinese and North American markets. Because armed only with only that information, it’s impossible to see how the Eletre could have a shred of Lotus DNA contained within its whale-like proportions. DNA hewn from pared back, lightweight, sports cars with telepathic handling and decades of F1 success. But as Tom Ford discovered when he took the Eletre to meet a Model X in Norway, compared with the Tesla there are trace elements of driver interaction to be found.
I shall now trot out the well worn justification for the Eletre’s existence – that it will fill Hethel’s coffers so the firm can continue to build the sports cars we all know and love… but rarely buy. Let’s call it the Cayenne effect. But what the Eletre demonstrates to me is the power of a brand, and if you’ve got it, you’d be foolish not to use it. On page 46 we drive the HiPhi Z – part saloon, part crossover, part Transformer – it’s a 663bhp EV from a Chinese start-up with back seats and a big boot that costs around £90k. On price, performance, usability and origin it’s a bob on rival for the Lotus, and it drives with polish, too. But if you were in the market for a large, fast, premium, family EV where would you be more excited to put your money? Into a Lotus, or a HiPhi? Clearly Lotuses aren’t known for their electrical reliability and build quality, but at the very least it’s a badge that might raise your pulse.
Perhaps even debating this stuff among car geeks like you and I is a pointless exercise? The vast majority of Eletre customers will be new to the Lotus brand and not give a fig about the steering feel on an S1 Elise. So let’s jot the Eletre down as a shrewd business move and spend our energy more wisely – worrying about whether Lotus’ forthcoming two-seater EV sports car will cut the mustard.
Enjoy the issue,

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