Xpeng P7

xpeng p7 review 2023 tracking front
Chinese Tesla Model 3 rival impresses with both tech and dynamics on first European outing

Launched in its home country in 2020, the Xpeng P7 is the Chinese EV start-up’s current best-seller, and the Tesla Model 3 rival has received a number of upgrades for its arrival in Europe – including more power and faster charging.The sleek saloon and the new G9 SUV are the focus of the firm’s bold European expansion, which started quietly in Norway in 2021 but this year will expand to the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark. The firm says it is currently firming up plans for other countries, including the UK – although the extra complication of right-hand drive conversion means it has yet to fix a date.It’s easy to see why Xpeng believes the P7 could find success over here, and a glance at the spec sheet shows a car that’s competitive in many ways with the likes of Tesla and premium saloons such as the Mercedes-Benz EQE and BMW i4.At 4888mm long, the P7 is actually closer in length to the Model S than the Model 3. That said, the smaller car seems a fairer comparison: Tesla is still considered an industry start-up in some quarters, but consider that the Model S launched two years before Xpeng was founded…Using the same Edward architecture – yes, unusual name for a car platform, that – as the new G9, the P7 saloon is offered with a choice of single- and twin-motor powertrains. We tested the rear-drive single-motor version, which offers 272bhp and 325lb ft of torque. With an 86.2kWh battery (82.7kWh usable), that gives a hugely competitive range of 358 miles and a top speed of 6.7sec.The Performance version – which you can tell by the use of a black X badge on the front of the car – uses a pair of motors to offer a combined output of 466bhp, reducing the 0-62mph sprint to 4.1sec. It shares the same battery, while both feature a 400V architecture – as opposed to the 800V system on the G9 – giving a maximum charging speed of 175kW.The impressive 358-mile range, which is competitive with the likes of the Model 3 and Ioniq 6, is enabled by the sleek, sharp styling that sits somewhere between a saloon and a grand coupé – Xpeng claims a drag coefficient of 0.236 – which results in an official efficiency of 3.7mpkWh. It also gives the machine an undoubted dash of kerb appeal.The Tesla inspiration is clear, but it has its own identity thanks to its ‘X robot face’, marked out by a subtle thin light strip. You can even option gullwing doors, although our test car had resolutely standard versions.The interior has a family resemblance with the G9 and is based on a minimalist ‘VIP lounge’ concept, although unlike the G9 there’s only one touchscreen on the dash. But the main infotainment set-up is similar, with virtually all the controls accessed via the big screen. We’d prefer more physical buttons, but those fluent in driving a Tesla will be right at home here – and might well find the cabin something of an upgrade in terms of fit and finish.That said, there are frustrations: changing the drive mode and brake regen settings requires digging into two sub-menus, and while they’re relatively clear, it’s a shame there’s no custom mapping option for the few physical controls on the steering wheel.There are two thumb-operated scrollers that are fixed in function: one operates the air-con temperature; the other adjusts the volume. Xpeng says customer research showed those to be the two key functions customers used the most, but we’d welcome the ability to be able to set custom functions so we could potentially replace the temperature controls with a drive mode selector.The infotainment does show the heavy focus Xpeng has put on software and technology developments. It’s intuitive and clear, and has been designed with the capacity to add, download and customise various apps. It has Spotify in there as standard, for example.There are some Chinese-market quirks, such as the customisable avatar for the Xpeng voice assistant, and it’s worth noting it isn’t compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Xpeng says this is because it is focused on developing its own technology, but it’s also evidence of the growing tensions between smartphone makers and car firms over data. That said, Xpeng says it is considering adding the systems in future.Interior space is decent: the front seats are reassuringly comfortable, and there’s good space in the rear as well. The boot is a decent 440 litres, although the saloon style does somewhat limit your ability to access the space compared with a hatch opening or similar.Where the P7 really impresses is on the road. The steering has a sharpness and fluency that can be lacking in some Chinese machines: it responds well to inputs and offers some feedback, although it’s still not exactly a true driver’s car. The whack of instant electric torque makes for pleasingly instant response and appealingly rapid and easy progress.There’s double-wishbone suspension at the front and a multi-link rear set-up, and the ride is generally good. It can feel a little overly stiff at times, which does affect the composure, but it’s in the mix and well resolved as far as electric saloons go.The drive modes do affect the character slightly, stiffening and softening the car and also adjusting the regen settings. There’s also a one-pedal function, although it’s not a true stop/start system: you’ll still occasionally need the brakes to stop from rolling forward when coasting to a halt.There’s a raft of driver assistance systems too, including advanced cruise control with lane-keeping assist. Xpeng says the car is capable of offering level two assistance features, although due to the different regulatory market, it won’t get some of the Navigation Guided Pilot autonomous driving technology (think Xpeng’s version of Tesla’s Autopilot) that Chinese versions feature.In the Netherlands, the single-motor P7 costs the equivalent of around £43,500, which undercuts the Tesla Model 3 Long Range and is competitive in its class. At that price, it would certainly be worthy of consideration if and when it arrives in the UK. Only a few minor quirks really show its Chinese roots, and there’s nothing to suggest it’s the product of a firm that didn’t exist a decade ago.Xpeng expects the G9 SUV will soon surpass the P7 as its best-selling model. Given the current car market and the ever-rising popular of SUVs, that’s hard to argue against, but it also feels a bit of a shame. 
Source: Autocar

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