The conditions under which we drive the Nio ET7 for the first time are special. We do not drive on the public road, but on the Lausitzring. That is a circuit in the east of Germany that is the backdrop for the jury days of the German car prize Goldene Lenkrad. The ET7 is obviously not a sports car, but we do have plenty of space there to get to know the car better. And vice versa: the car can get to know us, because it is full of artificial intelligence.
The ET7 is a big car. With a length of more than 5 meters, it will protrude a bit in most parking spaces. It is a sedan with a slippery body. He shows stretched and streamlined. Fortunately, the designers were not tempted to add all kinds of decorations such as strips and ornaments, which you sometimes see in China. The only thing that immediately stands out are the ‘frog eyes’ on the roof, but more about that later.
Eyes look at you
The first thing that catches your eye when you sit down in the ET7 is a round screen in the middle of the dashboard. Porsche puts a kind of stopwatch at that spot, but Nio puts a screen with two eyes on it. They move from side to side, they can wink, they can laugh – in short, they seek interaction. ‘It’ also has a name: Nomi. Call her and she can help you like other voice assistants can: adjust the temperature, set the navigation, that sort of thing. You’d almost think there’s a camera inside, but it isn’t – it’s behind the wheel. It will be different for everyone, but we found it a bit uncomfortable that you are looked at all the time.
The interior of the ET7 is very tidy and is strongly reminiscent of the aforementioned Tesla. There are virtually no buttons, just like visible ventilation grilles. Fresh air is blown into the car from the gap between the top of the dashboard and the attractive decorative strip made of durable rattan. The display with a diagonal of 12.8 inches in the center of the car, gives access to almost all functions of the car. It works pleasantly fast, is easy to read and is graphically very beautiful. The menu structures are logical, especially for the most frequently used functions such as telephone, navigation and audio. It offers countless other possibilities, which we will take a closer look at later in a more extensive acquaintance. The buttons on the steering wheel have no fixed functions, but do what you have assigned them through the system. So just like Tesla, they can be used one minute to adjust the steering wheel, and the next to adjust the audio volume or set the adaptive cruise control.
The finish level is also very reminiscent of that of Tesla. The choice of materials is excellent and the stitching and seams are neat, but not as maniacally perfect as Mercedes would, for example. Space is available in large quantities and in the back you sit like a king with the front seats very far in front of you.
Nio battery exchange station
Impressive is the electric range that Nio hints at. The version with the largest battery pack of 150 kWh would have more than 1,000 km of range, but that is measured according to the Chinese CLTC cycle and cannot be compared with the WLTP that is common here. So it’s a bit of a wait for official figures in that regard, but you can assume that he will be able to put on quite a few miles. More than any car. The ET7 also comes with smaller battery packs, namely 70 and 100 kWh. We drove the latter now. What is special is that the Nio cannot only be charged at the charging station. The brand is planning to roll out a network of battery exchange stations in Europe. So if you don’t have time to charge, your battery will simply be exchanged in a few minutes. It should even be possible to temporarily rent a larger battery if you have to travel a little further than usual. Nothing is known about charging speeds at the moment.
Regardless of the battery pack chosen, the Nio ET7 has a 245 hp electric motor at the front and a 408 hp at the rear. The system power is 653 hp and 850 Nm. The Nio ET7 thunders in its strongest form in 3.8 seconds to 100 km/h. You can also set how much power you want available via the multimedia system. You can choose from the different driving modes on a kind of stairs, which do not have classic names such as ‘comfort’, ‘sport’ or ‘normal’, but where you select the 0-100 acceleration time.
How does that drive? Not bad at all, we can say after a few laps. The ET7 has air suspension with adaptive dampers and they do indeed give the car a firm and secure feeling. Not as sporty as a Porsche Taycan, but also not as soft as a Mercedes EQS. He keeps it in the middle. The steering is light and precise, and the pedal response is good. It is also not jumpy in the fastest setting, which could be annoying. We look forward to a more extensive acquaintance to see if that first positive impression remains.
Bubbles on the roof
Technically, the ET7 is already fully prepared for far-reaching autonomous driving functions. This is clearly visible in the cameras that you encounter around the car, and in that context the bumps on the roof are quite striking. You might find it ugly, you might also see it as symbols of completely new technology. The wide unit in the center houses a lidar that has a range of 500 meters and on the corners are two cameras with a resolution of 8 megapixels, which can recognize other cars at a distance of almost 700 meters and people at a distance of up to 700 meters. 223 meters. It is not yet known to what extent the ET7 can and may drive autonomously when it arrives in the Netherlands by the end of this year.
The price level is still a bit of a guess, but you can count on the price to be an important weapon to entice buyers. And to be fair, the first impression of the car is very positive. At the beginning of October there will be a major press release in Berlin where the manufacturer will undoubtedly announce more about prices and when exactly it will be for sale.
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