Lotus 4x4 has China in its sights
Plans unveiled for new Lotus 4x4 crossover to take on the Porsche Macan in China
Lotus has begun work on its first ever 4x4 crossover vehicle, which will be built at the British company's new factory in south-east China.
Jean-Marc Gales, the company's CEO, described the car as "a real Lotus" and "the world’s first lightweight SUV".
The car comes as the result of a three-way joint project between Lotus, its owner Proton and the Chinese engineering company Goldstar Heavy Industrial, AutoCar reports.
The ambition is to profit from China's growing appetite for 4x4s and small family cars, the website reports, of which sales "recently topped three million" in a year.
About 30,000 Porsche Macans are sold each year in China, and that number continues to grow.
Lotus's as-yet unnamed 4x4 but will be lighter and faster than its rivals, Lotus claims.
"Lightness, driving purity, design and a certain unconventional quality — these are all core Lotus values," said Gales. "At present, there's nothing on the market that fits the description. Our car will drive beautifully. It will be supple and comfortable but the emphasis will be on handling. It will be the lightest and fastest of its class on the track."
The car may also incorporate some technology from its parent company. "There may be some Proton parts, of course, but that's nothing unusual," he said. "You can find VW parts in a Lamborghini."
Lotus recently reaffirmed its partnership with Toyota, so it is likely that the 4x4 will feature a Toyota powerplant "similar to the current 1.8-litre in-line four and 3.5-litre V-6 are a near certainty", Top Speed says.
The new car will also "bow to Lotus tradition" by bearing a name that begins with E, AutoCar says.
It will go on sale in 2019, according to Digital Trends, meaning that it will probably be unveiled at the Beijing Motor Show in 2018.