It would appear that preliminary reports surrounding the oft-rumoured Lotus SUV are beginning to materialise into concrete facts. As Autocar UK understands, the Hethel-based sports car manufacturer is hard at work developing a five-door crossover model, with a market introduction deadline scheduled for 2019.

Tipped as “a real Lotus” by CEO Jean-Marc Gales, the “world’s first lightweight SUV” is the first of many upcoming projects touted by the joint venture agreement between Lotus Group, Proton Holdings Berhad and Goldstar Heavy Industrial. As such, the Lotus SUV will be positioned to capitalise on China’s growing demand for crossovers with the new model slated to be assembled at a facility in the south-east region.

While exact details remain unconfirmed, the new Lotus SUV will square up against the likes of the Porsche Macan. The latter has been selling at an impressive rate of 30,000 units per annum, with figures tipped to hit the 50k mark in the near future. Other information includes mentions of an all-wheel drive layout and a name beginning with the letter ‘E’, as per usual with all Lotus models.

As for its styling, the Lotus SUV is slated to feature a lower overall stance compared to its rivals while maintaining roughly the same wheelbase as the Porsche Macan and Audi Q5. The marque is adamant that the lower roofline will in no way compromise the rear cabin space – a priority for most Chinese customers.

Porsche Macan drive 1

The crossover will feature a steel monocoque structure with composite and aluminium outer body panels. Elsewhere, an all-independent double-wishbone suspension setup is likely to feature which in combination with its lightweight construction, should result in a model weighing around 200 kg less than its competitors.

Gales has also stated that the new crossover will feature “some Proton parts… but that’s nothing unusual.” He adds that one “can find VW parts in a Lamborghini.” As for powertrain options, Lotus is still mulling over the idea of its engine and layout plan. With Lotus strengthening its relationship with Toyota, expect similar engine options from its sports cars such as the supercharged 1.8 litre four-banger and 3.5 litre V6 to feature.

A diesel and hybrid variant is likely to be introduced later on from launch, as well. The former would prove popular with European customers, should the car go on sale there, while the hybrid version should please Chinese officials, who are now adamant that new models introduced at the end of the decade feature “a hybrid element” of some sort.

Following its market introduction into the Chinese domestic market, Lotus will be looking to sell its crossover in Europe, as mentioned, and in Japan, where safety legislations more or less mirror the Chinese requirements. Breaking into the American market would be a different story altogether as Gales has mentioned that some modifications are required to satisfy American safety laws.

GALLERY: Porsche Macan