Chinese EV SUV is gunning for Mercedes, but with a twist
4.0 out of 5
This is the second generation of EL6, but the first destined for Europe, and designed with an eye on Western tastes. It’s a smart looking thing, nicely proportioned with clean lines. Certainly much less fussy than the Mercedes, although we’re going to have to get used to the Nio’s roof-mounted sensors that might get people trying to hail you down if you opt for one in black.
But it’s the interior that will win hearts; it’s a triumph of minimalist design, comforting materials and strong quality – we particularly liked the vegan leather covering the seriously comfortable seats.
Our EL6 came with the bigger 100kWh battery with a claimed range of 328 miles. That’s nothing groundbreaking – and nor is the maximum charging speed of ‘around 182 kW’. But who needs fast charging when you can simply switch out the empty battery instead?
Driving dynamics are a mixed bag. We really liked how easy it is to drive, first selecting Comfort mode where the steering is light and performance good enough. If you want to go for the 0-62mph time of 4.5 seconds you’ll have to cycle through Sport to Sport+ mode, while there’s also an Eco setting, or you can customise things yourself. To make the most of the EL6’s four-wheel drive system, there are various off-road modes, too.
There are so many ways to personalise the car, as well – from lights, to the driver assistance features. So many, in fact, you’ll need a good hour or so to set the car up – like you would with a new computer.
You can also opt for a smaller 75kWh battery with a range of 252 miles, which offers the same performance and saves 20kg in weight. That, and standard 20-inch wheels rather than the 21s of our test car, may take the edge off a slightly firm (and occasionally noisy) ride, although it’s still better than a Polestar or a Tesla.
Currently Nio is aiming at a “late 2024” on-sale date in the UK, although that may slip – getting the battery-swap stations in place is key to that. That means we’ll have to wait a little longer for official pricing, though the EL6 starts at €65,500 (£57,076) in Germany. Nio expects to lease most of its cars, though, which will bring the battery swapping boons into play with, potentially, a couple of free swaps per month before additional costs.
|From £57,000 (est)
|100kWh battery, 2 x e-motor
|Single-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
|328 miles / c.182kW (10-80% in 40 mins est)
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