Nice, finally a dedicated SUV thread — in the Evora subforum no less., but it’s going to be a while before Lotus gets in the act, at least 2022. Don’t hold your breath, anything could happen between now and then. Anyway, since 1988, I’ve always owned at least one SUV. Back then it was a new Jeep Cherokee Pioneer that didn’t even come equipped with a center console and had to purchase and install one myself. Now own a Honda Element -- probably one of the highest “utility” factor vehicles ever built considering it’s dimensions, but it looks like a box and low in the excitement department. Nowadays most SUV’s have morphed into luxury vehicles with little to no off road capability and cramped, limited storage. Functionality has been usurped by style. Many manufacturers gave up ladder frame construction and now offer a unibody based on an existing front wheel drive sedan in their line up. Guess there is nothing really wrong with that, if that is what you want, but it’s basically just a glorified grocery getter.
From what has been revealed so far, that is the niche that Geely is going to fill with the Lotus SUV except they will promote “handling, lightweight and maybe Lotus heritage” in the mix. Before JMG left, he said the details would be revealed in two months. That was in March, so we’ll see. Expect a hybrid with AWD. The idea, of course, is simply to sell these vehicles at a higher volume and profit margin which ends up benefiting those of us interested in what Lotus is really all about; that of course being a unique, nimble, no nonsense sports car. That is, if there is still such a thing in four years.
My opinion is that the words “Lotus” and “SUV” used together is a oxymoron. What does the general public equate with the name “Lotus”? Probably “no frills”, “lightweight” and “nimble handling” come to mind, but also “fragile” and “questionable reliability and service”, three ingredients you don’t necessarily want in an SUV which should be expected to be “rugged” and “dependable” at least in theory. Many brands now offer a concierge service and will pick up and drop off your vehicle from your home or workplace — hassle free. Lotus isn’t exactly known as being great value either, and the market is going to have to expand way beyond just current Lotus owners. Expectations are 10,000 units/year. Has anyone considered that Geely may brand this new vehicle as something other than a Lotus, especially if it’s made in China?
So maybe Geely will again reinvent the compact SUV or CUV, maybe bust out a whole new segment and call it an LUV (Lotus Urban Vehicle).
They’ll have to do something to carve out at least a niche of this saturated market segment. Sure, there are other performance oriented choices from Chrysler, Porsche, BMW, Alfa Romeo, even Maserati and Lamborghini, etc. but those are relatively overpowered and overweight in comparison to what Lotus/Geely is purportedly planning. Perhaps a rebadged, decontented Volvo XC60 Polestar with lowered suspension and Lotus grille and taillights? I’ll accept whatever it takes to keep the marque solvent. Let’s hope they get it right. It may depend on how much “sport” buyers really want in an SUV.