The Chinese electric car manufacturer plans to invest in our market with high-end models like the Nio EL6. A high-performance SUV, perfectly equipped and with exemplary finishing.
Appearing in 2014, the Chinese manufacturer Nio made its debut two years ago in Europe, targeting Nordic countries such as Denmark, Sweden and Norway before investing in the Dutch, Hungarian and German markets. The brand now has a design center in Munich, innovation in Berlin, testing in Brandenburg, research and development in Oxford and even a battery swap station manufacturing plant in Biatorbagy in Hungary.
And if the brand invited us for a test drive of this EL6, it is because it plans to soon set up in France. Let’s bet on the year 2024. To date, the Nio range includes eight models divided into three families. The so-called ET family sedans available in short (ET5), station wagon (ET5t) and long (ET7) versions. The SUVs called ES are available in three sizes (ES6, ES7 or ES8). Then finally the range of SUV coupes known as EC (EC6 and EC7). In Europe, the range is smaller and the ES models are renamed EL. So the Nio EL6 we’re trying here is actually a Nio ES6.
At 4.85 m long, 2 m wide (excluding mirrors) and 1.70 m high, the Nio EL6 is an imposing vehicle with a sleek design with optics made up of numerous LEDs and resting on 20-inch rims. The standard equipment also includes a huge panoramic sunroof, and 33 sensors, including eleven cameras, five radars, twelve ultrasounds and even a Lidar (laser for long-range vision). The whole thing is managed by four NVidia processors and an internal operating system called Banyan. Our model also had 21-inch rims at €1,500 and metallic paint at €1,680.
A good and beautiful chest
Thanks to its generous size, the Nio EL6 provides good family benefits with a 579-liter trunk that can reach 1,430 liters by folding down the bench seat backs divided into 3 parts (40/20/40). In addition to its substantial volume, the trunk has regular shapes with a good width and a double bottom of 89 liters well arranged to accommodate its cables. The thick carpet, the thick joints and the two large electric actuators of the tailgate demonstrate good manufacturing quality. Too bad no storage is offered under the front hood!
Three in the back
With a wheelbase of 2.92 m, legroom in the rear is appreciable and the large width at the elbows and the flat floor allow three adults to fit on the bench with electrically reclining backrests. However, it is regrettable not to find a third Isofix attachment in the center.
For €2,250, it is possible to add a ventilation, heating and massage function for the rear seats. Tri-zone air conditioning is standard and is adjusted via a small touch screen which also allows adjustment of the music or the front passenger seat. The latter offers a Lounge function to lie down completely with an extractable foot support (€1,000). Once again, the finish of the door panels, the headliner and even the central armrest live up to the Germanic references.
Nio Power Swap Station: We witnessed an automatic battery swap at a station!
A Tesla with meters
In front, the heated and ventilated electric seats provide excellent comfort even if they lack lateral support. Their imitation leather covering presents well, as does the perfectly fitted dashboard furniture. Storage spaces such as the connection sockets or the induction charger are well laid out, but do not forget the absence of a glove box. The ergonomics of the controls on the steering wheel are obvious with large, easily accessible physical buttons. The instrumentation coupled with a head-up display (as standard) offers perfect readability, as does the large, very responsive central touch screen. The home media operating system packs a host of features with gaming and streaming, but doesn’t allow access to Apple Car Play or Android Auto. You will therefore have to use your smartphone to use Waze.
During this first test, we were not able to test the remote control application to program the air conditioning, unlock the car or even plan a route, but we were able to see it working and it seems quite complete. The GPS uses Here map data and lists charging stations, control zones and hotels and restaurants (with Google Map reviews).
On the engine side, the Nio EL6 receives an asynchronous induction unit at the front (150 kW) coupled with a second permanent magnet synchronous unit at the rear (210 kW) to obtain a cumulative power of 360 kW (i.e. 483 hp) and a torque of 700 Nm. These motors are powered by two types of battery. The entry-level model receives a 75 kWh gross accumulator made up of a mixture of NMC (Nickel Manganese Cobalt) and LFP (Lithium Iron Phosphate) type cells. The high-end version is only made up of NMC cells and claims 100 kWh of gross capacity. These two battery packs are the same size and almost the same weight (2316 and 2336 kg excluding driver) in order to be exchangeable in the manufacturer’s stations.
Silent but clumsy
Capable of going from 0-100 km/h in 4.5 seconds and reaching a top speed of 200 km/h, the Nio EL6 offers very high-level performance, comparable to that of a Tesla Model Y Grande Autonomy (5 s and 217 km/h).
The chassis is based on front and rear multi-link suspensions and can count on powerful brakes with high-performance four-piston calipers developed in-house. The electronic shock absorbers allow their calibration to be varied depending on the nine driving modes offered. Quite effective in sport mode at high speed, this controlled damping seemed hectic to us at low speed and less comfortable than air suspensions. A mixed feeling which is undoubtedly explained by the presence of large rims equipped with sports tires (Pirelli P Zero in 265/45 R21). However, this remains less firm than a Tesla Model Y. Stable and good braking, the Nio EL6 cannot, however, mask its high mass in tight turns, especially as the upholstery offers little lateral support. A feeling of heaviness amplified by the very light steering and lacking feedback.
In town, the substantial width of the vehicle and its large turning circle do not make maneuvering easier. The numerous glass surfaces, large mirrors and surveillance cameras are welcome. The Nio EL6 is more comfortable on the highway where its excellent soundproofing is accompanied by a quality Hi-FI system (24 HP Dolby 7.1.4). The drag coefficient of 0.25 and the laminated glazing at the front and rear undoubtedly explains the excellent filtration of air noise. The standard driving aids (with traffic and sign reading) are also very effective and allow the car to move almost alone in complete safety, at high speeds and in traffic jams. The standard head-up display and powerful lighting with automatic high beam are also standard equipment. Note that this electric SUV offers an optional electric tow ball (€1,200) allowing up to 1,200 kg of towing capacity.
400 km without depriving yourself
During our test in Germany, we recorded an average consumption of 22.8 kWh/100 km in mixed use (city, road, highway) in good weather. Enough to consider 300 km with the 75 kWh battery and 400 km with 100 kWh without depriving yourself. You can add at least 50 km by driving wisely in Eco mode. The manufacturer announces 406 and 529 km respectively according to WLTP standards. Nothing exceptional in absolute terms, but not so bad considering the performance and level of comfort of this large four-wheel drive SUV.
Fast charging and swap station
If the maximum direct current (DC) charging power is given for 140 kW in 75 kWh and 180 kW in 100 kWh, the Nio EL6 only requires half an hour to charge to 80% thanks to a very charging curve. constant. The on-board charger allows 11 kW of power on alternating current (AC). Like all Nios, the EL6 SUV can also exchange its battery for another full battery in just 5 minutes in one of the 27 stations deployed in Europe (1,873 units in China). But to benefit from this unique service, you must opt for battery rental at €169 (75 kWh) or €289 (100 kWh) per month on the German market. The vehicle then costs you €53,500 excluding options.
Exclusive AP test – Nio ES8: the Chinese Tesla Model
If you prefer to own the battery, you will need to add €12,000 for the 75 kWh (i.e. €65,500) and €21,000 (i.e. €74,500) for the 100 kWh. High prices compared to a Tesla Model Y, but completely competitive with German SUVs loaded with options. Nio backs its vehicles with a 5-year or 150,000 km warranty. It remains to be seen what after-sales service will be for this new type of premium SUV.
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