The U6 is a mid-size car with the tall build of an off-road vehicle and the roofline of a coupé. That concept is not unique, but Aiways' spin on it is. Clearly visible bumpers all around create an adventurous look, while kevlar-patterned accents add a sporty element. The various wings and curves do little to reduce drag, but their main purpose is to give the U6 a quirky look.
Pivotal to the look is the colour. In yellow, the U6 is playful, with which Aiways wants to appeal to the younger buyer. The test car in mint green provides a fashionable look, which also shows off its lines to their best advantage (which is why that colour was chosen for the photo shoot). And with this, the tone is set: While Aiways is different from average brands, it is not a premium brand.
The U6 is on the same platform as Aiways' more mainstream SUV: the U5. However, the U6 has a longer overhang behind the rear wheels for greater luggage space. In addition, the cabin has a different layout and design.
The space in the front is good, that in the rear even very good, also with panoramic glass roof. Once again, the U6 manages to stand out from the crowd with its design. The test car has a bright interior and will therefore appeal to buyers who find the grey and black interiors for business drivers too sterile.
The dashboard is minimalist, with the traditional instrument cluster behind the steering wheel replaced by such a slim display that it is contained in a trim strip! In fact, almost all information is displayed on a central screen. Aiways has blatantly copied this concept from Tesla (Model 3 and Model Y). However, the Chinese manufacturer has mounted the display too low. As a result, it is not in the field of vision and it is tiring to constantly shift the gaze from the traffic to the screen.
In addition, the information on the screen is cluttered. The amount of information and functions is large and, therefore, one invariably has to scroll through several menus to make the desired choice. Aiways does not provide sat nav and alternatively offers support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Since most users use these in practice anyway, this is a logical choice. However, with an electric car, this brings two drawbacks. Because the phone has no information about the battery, it cannot automatically plan a charging stop on the route. Also, the battery cannot be automatically pre-heated on the way to a fast charger for extra fast charging (this can therefore be activated manually).
For the audio system, Aiways has partnered with German specialist Magnat. The sound of this audio system is rich and clear, but not of the level of a premium audio system. The power of the amplifier is low, which is why the U6 does not lend itself to a party.
The name "Aiways" was once chosen with AI (Artificial Intelligence) in mind. For now, however, the U6 has little to offer in terms of self-driving functions or other cleverness. In fact, the driver assistants are the main point of criticism! To get the maximum score in the EuroNCAP safety test, Aiways provides all the usual functions, but then adjusts them annoyingly sharply. The electronics steer along and many warnings sound, often without it being clear why. All these "assistants" can be switched off, but because EuroNCAP requires it, they are always all switched back on when the car is started.
All newcomers are convinced that the combustion engine has no future, which is why they are all opting for electric cars. So the platform on which the U6 is built is made for electric propulsion and therefore offers plenty of room for a battery. In the case of the U6, this has a capacity of 63 kWh. Charging can be done with 11 kW at a public charge point and up to 90 kW at a fast charger. With those values, Aiways once again sits between the everyday and premium brands.
On paper, the U6 has a range of 400 km. During the test drive in favourable weather conditions, this was quite achievable (test consumption 16.1 kWh / 100 km). This is slightly more favourable than the consumption with the Aiways U5 and this is partly due to a new climate control system that uses a heat pump (which will also come to the U5 later).
Via the central display screen, various driving modes can be selected and depending on that, the U5 is amiable and calm to challenging and viciously fast. In fact, the way the power of "only" 218 hp is built up makes the U6 feel much faster than it actually is. It feels like, the U6 can compete with rivals with much more power. At low speeds, it is noticeable that the warning sound that sounds outside to alert pedestrians is also audible inside. As this turns on and off frequently (and abruptly!) in city traffic, it is felt to be irritating.
With the push of a button, the U6 could drive with one pedal. That means: when the power pedal is released, the car decelerates and kinetic energy is converted into electricity. However, the way the U6 does this feels unnatural. Moreover, the car never comes to a complete stop. More than once, therefore, the test driver was surprised by the U6 and had to hit the brakes at the last moment to avoid a collision.
Inversely, during descents, the computer regularly briefly applies the brakes to recover energy. This in itself is very clever, but the electronics do not brake nearly as smoothly as a human would and therefore this is perceived as uncomfortable (especially by passengers). In all this, it should be noted that the test drive was at a very early stage and the software was not yet final.
Aiways adapts the U6's handling by continent. For Europe, Aiways wants to give the U6 the playful character that its exterior promises. However, in this the manufacturer has only half succeeded. Unlike many other electric cars, the U6 has front-wheel drive. This is because the space under the luggage compartment is used in China for an extra battery pack (not available in Europe) and therefore there is no room there for an electric motor.
The suspension is firm to disguise the high weight of the batteries. For the sake of comfort, the distance between the driver and the mechanics is large. Moreover, it is clear that every action of the driver first passes through several layers of well-meaning yet extremely meddlesome electronics. What little feeling there is with the mechanics is therefore influenced by the computer at seemingly random moments.
The driver therefore gains confidence in the car only after a long time and initially has to wait and see how the electronics will translate the driver's intentions. Of course, this depends on the driving mode selected. When most auxiliary systems are switched off and the steering is set to "sporty", the latter remains numbly light, but communication with the mechanics is sufficient. Then it turns out that the U6 is agile and has a very dynamic character!
As the establishment is still too slow to make the transition to electric driving, new Chinese manufacturers are seizing their chance to capture a share of the market. Since almost all of them do so with SUVs that are also roughly the same style, Aiways takes a different approach with the U6. Aiways has opted for a quirky model that is midway between an SUV and a coupé. Both the design and handling are unusually playful. Equally important, Aiways' product and price keep it midway between an average brand and a premium brand.
The name Aiways was chosen because the brand wanted to emphasise AI (Artificial Intelligence) and its associated self-driving cars. However, those developments are inhibited by the law. Therefore, Aiways is now taking a different tack, opting for design and dynamism. In fact, the name Aiways can also be explained in another way: in Chinese, it can also mean "love of driving". Chinese charm, in other words!
- Decent price
- Lively character
- Distinctive style
- Unfeelingly light steering
- Meddlesome safety features
- Awkward and dangerous location charging socket