XPeng is starting in Europe with two models. These are a mid-size sedan and a large SUV. With these, the brand hardly seems to distinguish itself from other newcomers. However, XPeng does not present itself as a "premium" brand. Instead, it lives up to its objective and targets a broad target group by offering its models at competitive prices.
This is not to say that the P7 is simple, as this sedan is generously sized and clean-lined. The Chinese manufacturer has looked closely at the trendsetter of the moment, Tesla, and has therefore made the P7 larger than a Model 3 and smaller than a Model S, naturally filling a gap left by its rival.
The P7 not only looks big, it feels big too. The dashboard is minimalist, leaving a lot of empty space, which contributes to a sense of grandeur. The front seats are generous and fully electrically adjustable. The headrests are integrated, but high enough to contribute to safety even for tall drivers.
The space in the rear is good, though certainly not as good as it could be for a car of this size. The same goes for the boot. This is ample at 440 litres, which is hardly remarkable. When the P7 was introduced in China a year and a half ago, the car had a second storage space under the bonnet ("frunk"). That has been used for a heat pump with the recent modifications for the 2024 model year, reducing consumption.
On the dashboard there are two displays and no other buttons or levers. All functions are controlled via the central display, buttons on the steering wheel and voice commands. Even air vents do not seem to be present, as they are hidden under the dashboard. A start button is also missing. "Turning on Drive" is equivalent to turning on the car and stepping out is enough to turn off the car. Curiously, the P7 has no keyless entry; locking and unlocking requires old-fashioned remote control.
Everything but minimalist is the light and sound show that the P7 performs upon boarding. Users can choose from various welcome scenarios and, if desired, the sound from the audio system can be rerouted to an exterior speaker so that everyone can enjoy the driver's favourite music. Speakers can also be found in the headrests. These are used to separate navigation instructions from other sounds, among other things. This works quite nicely in practice, though it is not a groundbreaking invention.
XPeng says one of the brand's specialities is software development. To be ready for the future, the P7 features a Snapdragon 8155 chip for infotainment and an nVidia Orin-X to process signals from the many cameras around.
XPeng has developed its own operating system and during a week of driving this was good for varying experiences. For instance, the system responds lightning fast one time and so slowly a moment later that the user has to click two or three times for a result. The sat nav also crashed more than once. Dialogs sometimes contained program code and/or were still in Chinese. Voice recognition simply never functioned in the test car.
The most annoying thing, however, is that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not supported. XPeng argues that this is not necessary because popular apps are built in. Autozine disagrees, as many users are stuck with an "ecosystem". Their phone contains their contacts, music, podcasts, etc. That would mean syncing all that data with the car at the start of every drive. It also lacks music apps for high-quality audio (Tidal / Qobuz) and therefore the high-quality Dynaudio audio system hardly comes into its own. To look at it from a completely different angle: XPeng obviously sees Tesla as its main competitor and a common complaint about Tesla is the lack of Apple CarPlay / Android Auto. XPeng could therefore win customers by offering that very capability!
XPeng claims that the P7 can drive autonomously in China at level 5. That means the "driver" specifies the destination and then can go to sleep, play or read until the destination is reached. Even staying alert to intervene in situations the electronics cannot handle (self-driving at level 4) would not be necessary. As these self-driving functions are not yet allowed in Europe, the P7 limits itself to adaptive cruise-control. However, that is far too cautious, making it only usable on a virtually empty road.
On the contrary, the various safety features are quite tolerant. XPeng meets the European Union requirements from 2024, but thanks to the choice of sounds and the leeway the systems have, the features have been perceived as less annoying than in other brands.
Electric vehicle (EV)
The P7 comes in three versions: a regular, a sporty and an extra sporty version. For this test, we used the simplest version, the so-called "long range". This offers an actual range of 600 km thanks to the combination of a remarkably economical electric motor (test consumption 14.4 kW / 100 km) and a large-capacity battery. At the same time, the performance of this simplest P7 is outstanding, completely outpacing the average internal combustion engine car with just a light tap of the accelerator.
In sport mode, the P7 is not faster, but the response to the accelerator is more intense, making the car seem faster. The driver can specify how much energy is recovered when releasing the accelerator. Even at maximum setting, the speed reduction and therefore maximum energy recovery, it is just not possible to drive with one pedal. Too bad!
Charging can be done with 11 kW at a public charging point and with up to 175 kW at a fast charger. Very chic: the flap that gives access to the charging port opens and closes electrically.
The economic, regular or sporty mode does not affect the steering or chassis. The steering is neither heavy nor light, nor direct or indirect. The P7 always has a low-key, good-natured character. XPeng simply takes advantage of the car's hefty size (read: large track width, long wheelbase) and low centre of gravity thanks to the batteries in the floor.
Does XPeng add value over existing offerings? Yes, but only with price. At the time of writing, the P7 can be described as the best copy of a Tesla yet. However, the price is lower.
At the same time, it is clear that XPeng still has little experience with the European market and this translates into all sorts of imperfections in the electronics. However: these can all be resolved with updates, which are also implemented wirelessly. Because of the low price, buyers take these inconveniences for granted for the time being. If XPeng fixes the bugs, the P7 offers the same product at a lower price. If XPeng makes the effort to really research the European market and respond properly, the P7 could even become a better product at a lower price.
- Keen price
- Modern, rich equipment
- Long range, good performance
- Lacklustre character
- No support for Apple CarPlay / Android Auto
- Rear space could be better for a car of this size