The company has already started work on a prototype, but the project has not yet received an official greenlight for production.

Lotus has reaffirmed its development plans for a lightweight crossover, but a high-riding model has taken a back seat as the company redesigns its core models in the coming years.

Nearly two years ago Lotus chief Jean-Marc Gales seemed enthusiastic about the project, claiming the company was working on the "world's first lightweight SUV" that would retain the essence of a "real Lotus" and invigorate the segment. It would be similarly sized to a Porsche Macan, with styling inspired by the 3-Eleven.

The executive now tells Autocar the company has not given the crossover an official greenlight or finalized a design, and it may be "four or five years away, as with the rest of the new range."

The British automaker has placed a higher priority on completing replacements for the Elise, due in 2020, along with the Exige and Evora.

Despite the cautionary comments, Gales still argues that it is a good idea because no rival makes a "lightweight, good-handling" SUV." The company believes a higher-riding model could potentially double its sales volume, as the Cayenne and Macan have done for Porsche.

US buyers may be the most eager to purchase a Lotus crossover. While they wait, the company promises its successors to the current Elise and Exige will both be street-legal in the US market.

Image by Ben Hsu.