Xiaopeng Motors, never heard of? Then you should ask Google, because the Chinese are an insider tip among electric car start-ups. In the first, exclusive individual test with the XPeng P7 limousine, we clarify whether large investors and small investors have backed the right horse.
Can he maneuver it so that the charging port is directly on the cable? Authentication via RFID card, for advanced users with a smartphone or professionally via plug-and-charge? Does the loading process start right away, or is extra help necessary? A visit to the DC filling station always has something of a walk on the catwalk. Every wheel rotation, every degree of steering angle, every movement is watched very closely by bored battery drivers, whose only entertainment are numbers on hard-to-read charging station displays. And then you drive up in the XPeng P7 , look into big question mark faces, from which the trains completely slip away when scissor portals operated by electric motors whirr upwards (of course, we also drive the fully equipped Wing Edition). But beware, the idea can quickly become a laughing stock when the sensitive door sensors identify an obstacle, promptly stop the opening process and you then have to use your muscles to help because it doesn't go on immediately.
But don't worry, the doors, which cost the equivalent of around 13,000 euros, are not a must, and with the usual opening entrances, the P7 is rather inconspicuous, reminiscent of a cross between Tesla Model S and Lucid Air with a dash of Nio ET7 . A few key data to get you in the mood? Notchback sedan, 4.88 meters long, two electric motors, 316 kW output, 83 kWh gross capacity. So no experiments, but very close to the established competitors.
Color, rims, done
The Chinese ordering website alone has a similar structure to that of the e-car pioneer from Austin/Texas: manageable model range, one or a maximum of two drive options, upholstery, color, rims, done. However, there is a catch, because XPeng currently only sells cars in Europe in Norway (Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands are expected to follow in the next few months) - and that may be a good thing. Because there is still a lot to do before P7 and the like come to Germany. But first things first.
XPeng does not experiment with the ingredients either, has the 80 kWh net power-storing NMC battery (lithium-nickel-manganese-cobalt) supplied by the battery giant CATL, installs a permanently excited synchronous machine (PSM; front: 120 kW; rear: 196 kW), places the socket for CCS and Mode 3 plugs to the rear right, under a cover that slides elegantly upwards and under the body at the push of a button, as on the Porsche Taycan. The brakes come from Brembo, the tires from Michelin - China-specific with a reinforced carcass.Good conditions for this test, which we carried out with the support of the company Innofleet , a service provider specializing in the automotive and film industry for benchmarking drives, presentations and media productions, who made the P7 available to us at short notice, which had been fully booked for months.
Now open it, sit in, try it out and find out that the Wing Edition is not for tight parking spaces, because the scissor doors open quite far outwards. The almost button-free cockpit is laid out in such a way that you have plenty of space and everything in view, with a flat instrument panel on which two landscape format screens framed with each other are installed.
Like Tesla, only better
Here, too, the graphics and font are reminiscent of Tesla, but XPeng serves all important driving data more conveniently directly behind the steering wheel. All vehicle functions are controlled via the 15-inch touchscreen to the right of the large two-spoke steering wheel, even the airflow direction of the air conditioning. After all, you can still move levers and buttons to operate the windshield wipers, turn signals, window lifters and gearbox, which all seem somehow familiar to us. Good this way. It's better to copy the tried and tested than to present the customer with something artificial that looks chic but is impractical in everyday life. As is the placement of the hazard warning button, which should be in the driver's field of vision rather than in the headliner.
, Many electrically adjustable leather chairs in front with heating and ventilation are good for long-distance, but support only moderately during lateral acceleration. The semi-circular driver's headrest with integrated loudspeakers for navigation announcements or telephone calls focused on the pilot is practical. At the back you hardly notice anything, sitting on a flat and therefore not optimally usable bench, has a lot of space behind the front seat backs, but less under the tinted panoramic glass roof. That's the way it is with streamlined silhouettes (cd value: 0.236). After all, there is still 440 liters of luggage space behind the trunk lid, the usual AC cable management fits into the flat compartment under the front hood.
Change behind the valance. The touchscreen is used to choose between the three driving modes, which mainly affect the reaction of the accelerator pedal. It's best to click into the standard program, because the 2.1-tonne P7 is not a great dynamic driver, despite brisk rides through the lane change lane and slalom lane. During evasive manoeuvres, the long limo predictably pushes over the front wheels, load changes safely, caught early on by the electronic ankle bracelet.
Level 3 is already possible
The topic of safety is very important at XPeng (Porsche Engineering is said to have been involved in the construction of the chassis), after all, five radar and 14 short-range sensors as well as another 14 cameras with information fed security assistants (XPilot) about the vehicle constructed from a stiff steel-aluminum mix. The P7 could already drive autonomously according to Level 3 (not yet homologated in Germany), Level 4 should be possible in the near future. Some functions such as the overtaking assistant or voice control do not yet work in Europe, or only to a limited extent, especially since the test car's software (2.6.0) is not up-to-date (3.0; OTA updates possible).
But source code is not everything, we are primarily interested in the hardware - and it works amazingly well. The speed-dependent servo-assisted steering (a lot of support when maneuvering, more manual torque on the motorway) should work more directly and give more communicative feedback, the rather tight chassis decouple the body more from the road and prevent occasional swinging, the slightly under-damped rear axle on transverse edges and joints is more top-class speak to. But when driving, the P7 does not make any real mistakes, brakes constantly in a good 35.4 meters from 100 km/h to standstill (warm), proves efficient battery and drive cooling in sprint measurements that can be repeated as often as required (0-100: 4.6 seconds). , achieves a range of almost 400 kilometers in the Eco test and easily 300 in everyday life. The processing quality of the Chinese at an attractive price is also right (currently from 459,900 Norwegian kroner, the equivalent of around 47,000 euros, for the basic model with rear-wheel drive; test car price: 649,200 NOK), whereby you knock on hard plastic here and there. The fact that the trunk lid does not swing open electrically, that the brake pedal lacks linearity and a clear pressure point, that despite the sealed loading flap there is a tight-fitting, strap-secured rubber cap on the connection, none of this really bothers. But now to the but.
Charges slowly, doesn't plan
What is a shortcoming of the P7 and makes it unattractive as a touring sedan is the low charging capacity of the DC tank. According to XPeng, 90 kW should be possible, in the test it was never more than 63 kW (see box on the left). In order to be successful in Europe, it would have to be at least 150 kW with the 400-volt on-board network, not to mention route charging planning. The navigation system currently only reports the remaining kilometers to the destination as well as the time and remaining range – if the address can be reached with the current battery level (SOC). If the location is out of range, this specific information is not available and the system neither warns nor suggests charging stops along the route. There is also no permanent SOC display in the instrument display.However, other electric car manufacturers have already shown that all these functions can be retrofitted via software updates.
So we assume that the XPeng models for the German launch (around 2024) will not have much in common with this P7 test car - apart from the scissor door show at the charging station. Is that enough for a real bang on the electric car market? We are curious.
, This test comes from auto motor und sport issue 21/2022, which you can buy here .
Equipment, assistance, safety: the basis is right. In order for the P7 to be competitive, it still needs fine-tuning, including in terms of charging capacity, chassis and software. That's why there are only three stars.