AP Exclusive Test - Nio ES8: The Chinese Tesla Model X.

AP Exclusive Test – Nio ES8: The Chinese Tesla Model X.

Nio is a Chinese manufacturer that has just arrived in Europe via Norway. Maxime Fontaine traveled to Oslo to evaluate the ES8 large SUV, offered at a bargain price compared to the competition. What he discovered will not really appeal to European and American brands.

Nio’s arrival in Europe

In the middle of 2019, a few ominous birds predicted the rapid disappearance of the Chinese brand Nio, which then faced a massive and dangerous recall of its first electric cars due to the risk of fire in the batteries. A year later, this plant cast scorn on them by showing good health and great ambitions.

Europe? Yes to 2025, Nio President Lihong Chen said in May 2019. At the end of 2020, this deadline has already been pushed back to the second half of 2021, for the first landing point envisaged in Copenhagen, Denmark. The new deadline was met, but in the end Norway and Oslo were chosen to open the first Nio House in Europe in October of last year.

Its mission: to distribute the ET7 sedan and ES8 SUV. It is the latter that Maxime Fontaine went to discover for Automobile Propre. Note that Nio offers battery replacement in a few minutes at dedicated stations. This too, our prolific colleague tested. This amazing experience is the subject of a particular video and article.

Up to 543 hp!

Offering a large, sophisticated SUV covering an area of ​​5.022 x 1,962 meters, with a height of 1,756 meters, Nio appears to be picking up on the Tesla Model X (5.057 x 1.999 x 1,680 meters). Especially since the ES8 offers 6 or 7 seats, depending on the second-row seating configuration: six if it has two seats with clearance between the two for easier access to the rear, or seven when it’s made up of a bench seat.

In this last set, the laboratory journalist encountered the Chinese electric car. It features intelligent all-wheel drive thanks to two engines that develop a combined power of 400 kW or 543 hp (160 kW or 218 hp at the front / 240 kW or 326 hp at the rear), for a maximum torque of 725 Nm.

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What to lower from 0 to 100 km / h in 4.9 seconds, before turning towards the top speed of 200 km / h. However, it is possible to choose one of the two quieter driving modes (Comfort, Eco). This will preserve battery life.

A 150 kWh package, for about 800 km before recharging, is not yet available. The version at our disposal received one with a power capacity of 100 kWh, which was added to the 500 km range of the WLTP in the combined cycle. There is already a smaller giveaway: 75 kWh.

Very Chinese style

No doubt the man in the cap would have taken a ride in the two-seater electric supercar that has welcomed visitors to Oslo’s Nio House since its opening. The EP9 race in May 2017 at the Nürburgring was distinguished by completing the course in 06:45.900.

No, no, Maxim not even in a dream: it’s an ES8 SUV waiting for you on a nearby street! He and Nomi, your travel companion, are installed in the middle of the dashboard to make sure everything runs smoothly during your test drive. The car’s boiling point appears to have been roughly obtained from a mixture of two other Chinese cars: the MG Marvel R and the Aiways U5.

Turning around the ES8, we quickly notice an abundance of cameras and radars: under the hood, facing the road at the level of the interior mirror, outside, at the bottom of the rear bumper, etc. The model tested is based on air suspension that allows in particular to lower the ride height for easier access on board, and 21-inch alloy wheels with Continental tires in 265/45.

modular stem

Behind the electrically opening tailgate, the luggage compartment provides a volume of 310 liters, which can be extended to 871 and 1861 liters by gradually folding the two-part backrests of the second and third row of seats. In the six-seater version, the space can rise to 1901 liters.

Depending on the items that are to be moved, it is possible for some wheelchairs to be convicted but not others. This exceptional unit makes it possible to carry relatively long items while still holding 4 or 5 people. Nio ES8 is a true example of this level. In addition, the rear wheel arches were well cleaned. What about charging cables? It can be stored in a false bottom as per its size.

I am very impressed with the build quality of this model. ‘The man with the hood says after discovering the different materials lining the cabin and the good joints of the hatches. Thanks to the panoramic sliding glass roof, all occupants are well lit. Except for the start of a relaxation session that closes the blackout panel.

Convenience for rear transporters

Sometimes carrying more than five people in the car is a must, especially for large families. From the 1950s and even before the 1980s, French manufacturers had already thought about it, with 7- and sometimes 8-seater configurations, without resorting to installing an SUV. So, for example, Peugeot with its family 203, 403, 404, 504 and 505, and Citroen with traction, DS and CX.

What sets Nio apart is the thought of armrests and cup holders for two that were installed close to the trunk of the car. Note that the middle row slides in a different way between the person seated on the right and the person on the left. Both also benefit from heated and ventilated seating.

In the seven-seat version, getting everything in the back requires agility. Provided that the bay in front is straight or the backrests are low, the legroom is correct.

On the other hand, it would be better not to accommodate people over 1.80m in height. Even if the ceiling lamp is quilted and covered with a beautiful Alcantara shade. The legs are far from the seat, which is not necessarily very pleasant. It’s quite different right on the front seat, with space everywhere.

Driver’s point of view

Storage is available throughout Nio ES8. Except that there is no glove box, as on the Aiways U5. The driver and his right neighbor are surrounded by padded areas covered in leather with stitching. Their seats are electrically adjustable.

While some manufacturers deprive the latter of height adjustment, Nio, on the contrary, pampers it by providing it with a comfortable position with a lifting pillow for extending the legs. Attention that can make the difference when choosing between several models of electric cars.

It is very clear that the digital instrumentation is complemented by the head-up display and the controls grouped together on the steering wheel: on the left for driving aids, and on the right for multimedia management.

All systems can also be configured with the tablet implanted in portrait mode. Including air flows in the cabin, similar to a Tesla. She is very responsive. In order not to leave fingerprints on the screen, a wheel and buttons are used to navigate through the menus and check the correctness of the adjustments.


Before setting off, the height and depth of the steering wheel can be electrically adjusted. ” We have a good view in this car “I immediately noticed Maxime Fontaine. And that’s thanks to the high-rise seat, slim pillars up front, good-sized windows and mirrors, and a 360-degree view.

The drive selector comes in the form of a large rocker button located to the left of the console. Steering is relatively smooth from the start. ” For a 4×4 car with 21″ big wheels, it is very convenient Appreciate the experienced videographer while developing on the cobbled streets of Oslo.

If the Nio ES8 appears quite dynamic in the city, its regenerative power feels rather light, even in Sport mode, when compared to the vast majority of other electric cars. What is impressive when driving this modern SUV is the detection by cameras of other street and road users, including pedestrians and cyclists. Resulting in a virtual Nomi’s head or eye movement, or audio warnings as needed.

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Now that we know Nomi can talk, we’ve also found out that he shows his disapproval when ES8 is being harassed. ” The downside to these connected cars is that they keep an eye on you. We are in an intermediate stage: the driver is not fully responsible, but the car is not fully autonomous. As long as we don’t have this complete autonomy, we have the car that teaches us lessons Maxime Fontaine explains.

By taking a slightly steeper curve, the Electronic Stability Program (ESP) comes into play. Not completely messed up. Not bad for such a big car. Our auto test confirms.

The weight of the machine is still 2425 kg. Thanks to the relatively sporty-looking tires, the car benefits from good traction on dry roads. With a wet, or even more slippery surface, it will, of course, be necessary to dampen his enthusiasm on the steering wheel.

Consumption and independence

During our testing, which included city highways and busy highways, we recorded an average consumption of 23.2 kWh/100 km. And that’s, without crowding the Nio ES8 too much.

Under these conditions, which many motorists have experienced in Ile-de-France, the autonomy, close to blackouts, will reach about 430 km. At the end of the cycle, the numbers had dropped to 21.9 kW/100 km (456 km).

the prices

In Oslo, the Nio ES8 is offered at NOK 539,000. Which gives just over 53,000 euros. But beware: in this Scandinavian country, there is no tax on electric cars.

For France, by applying a 20% VAT, we will reach a price of 63,600 euros. However, it should not be taken at face value, because manufacturers often allow themselves some liberties from one country to another, depending on the assistance granted or the desire to increase sales in certain regions.

Even at this price level, the 7-seater SUV, with performance highlighted by our expert journalist, excellent autonomy, and a convincing finish, has reason to worry European manufacturers.

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