23-speaker KEF Reference system unveiled for Lotus Eletre electric SUV

Kef Reference Lotus Eletre
(Image credit: Lotus)

KEF and Lotus’s audio partnership is starting to flourish. First we had the news that the British hi-fi brand was going to be producing a sound system for Lotus’s mid-engined Emira supercar and now it's been revealed KEF will also provide the audio for its recently-announced Eletre SUV.

There are actually two KEF systems available for the Eletre. The standard KEF Premium system doesn’t look too shabby on paper, boasting 1380 watts of power, 15 speakers and KEF’s Uni-Q driver technology built-in.

For those not familiar with the company’s trademark tech, Uni-Q traditionally positions a dome tweeter in the centre of a mid/bass driver – an arrangement used to improve the way the speaker disperses sound and help integration. It works well in conventional speakers so we can see why it would make sense to use it in an in-car environment too. Here you have to rely on multiple speakers working together to produce a coherent and cohesive sound field, so any tech that can make this a smoother, less painful process will come in handy.

KEF Reference Lotus Eletre

(Image credit: Lotus)

The second KEF system for the Lotus Eletre is where things start to get very interesting, though. It’s called KEF Reference and sees power output hiked to a hefty 2160 watts and the speaker count increased to 23. Presumably, these are included to help provide what the press release refers to as “3D surround sound” – expect a number of drive units positioned in high-up spots throughout the cabin for a more immersive listening experience.

The Reference set-up also includes KEF's Uni-Core technology. Uni-Core can already be found in the company’s tiny KC62 subwoofer and allows for deeper bass to be produced from an ultra-compact cabinet, but this is the first time it’s been used in the automotive world. It uses two dual force-cancelling drivers with concentrically arranged and overlapping voice coils, driven by a single motor.

There’s no word on how much this top-end sound system will cost, but we’re hoping we’ll be able to get behind the wheel and take it for spin when the Eletre goes on sale in 2023.


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Andy Madden

Andy is Deputy Editor of What Hi-Fi? and a consumer electronics journalist with nearly 20 years of experience writing news, reviews and features. Over the years he's also contributed to a number of other outlets, including The Sunday Times, the BBC, Stuff, and BA High Life Magazine. Premium wireless earbuds are his passion but he's also keen on car tech and in-car audio systems and can often be found cruising the countryside testing the latest set-ups. In his spare time Andy is a keen golfer and gamer.