Lotus has been talking vaguely about introducing an SUV to its lineup for months. Now, a new report gives us a clearer look at what to expect from a Lotus five-door crossover SUV, which is poised to compete against the likes of the Porsche Macan.
The new Lotus, which CEO Jean-Marc Gales describes as “the world’s first lightweight SUV” will begin production in 2019 in China. According to Autocar, the model is likely to become Lotus’ volume product, targeting Chinese customers. Later, Lotus will consider bringing the model in Europe and Japan.
According to Autocar, expect the Lotus SUV to offer all-wheel drive capability either as an option or standard equipment. Thanks to a lightweight body and forged alloy components likely destined for an all-independent double-wishbone suspension, it should weigh around 440 pounds less than competitors. The model is also likely to bear a steel monocoque inner structure with aluminum and composite body panels.
“Our car will drive beautifully. It will be supple and comfortable but the emphasis will be on handling,” Gales told Autocar. “It will be the lightest and fastest of its class on the track.” It should also be a bit wider and 3 cm lower than the Macan and Audi Q5.
Don’t be surprised if the powertrain inside the Lotus SUV looks like it should belong in a sports car. Gales said it is likely that the new crossover will be powered by something similar to the Toyota-sourced supercharged 1.8-liter inline-four or 3.5-liter V-6 engines we see in today’s lineup. Considering Lotus has formed long-time bonds with Toyota, we may continue to see the Japanese automaker’s influence in engine electronics and induction and exhaust systems. A hybrid or diesel version could also become available down the line.
Lotus says launching an SUV in North America would be difficult right now due to specific modifications that would be needed for this market. Although it doesn’t look like we’ll see a Lotus SUV here anytime soon, we’ll receive the Evora 400 later this year. That car will be the fastest and most powerful Lotus ever built, according to the sports car maker, featuring a 3.5-liter supercharged V-6 engine with 400 hp and a 0-60 time of 4.1 seconds.