XPENG P7 Performance: Is this China’s answer to BMW i4?
Ahead of XPENG’s imminent arrival on British shores, we got behind the wheel of the brand’s fastest EV saloon to find out how it performs when paired with Michelin’s Pilot Sport EV rubber.
By the standards of the automotive industry, it still wouldn’t be unreasonable to call Tesla a start-up brand. However, today’s spotlight shines on an even more recent newcomer: XPENG.
Founded in 2014 and headquartered in Guangzhou, China, XPENG wasn’t devised until two years after the Model S launched. Nevertheless, the Chinese EV-only brand has already made admirable strides in electric mobility in its native market, with a more recent expansion into Europe proving equally successful.
British roads are next on XPENG’s agenda, so we visited Sweden’s Gotland Ring racetrack — where we recently tested Porsche’s fellow four-door EV, the Taycan GTS, to the limit — for an early insight into the XPENG P7’s full performance potential, and to discover if it has what it takes to compete with the established crop of electric rivals: BMW i4, Tesla Model 3, and Polestar 2.
Visually, first impressions of the P7 are strong. The streamlined exterior design gives the XPENG saloon a fresh and current look without aping the styling of other manufacturers. At the front, the brand’s characteristic 'X Robot Face' is framed through the careful positioning of the LED lightbar and headlights. While flush door handles help to keep the side profile clean, accentuating the 19-inch two-tone alloys wrapped in 245/45 R19 Michelin Pilot Sport EV tyres front and rear — more on those later.
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Jumping inside, we’re met with the real showstopper of this ‘wing edition’: scissor doors. They’re certainly an attention grabber, and something which no rival at this price point offers. Thankfully, this initial excitement doesn’t dull once we’re sat in the driving seat.
A full panoramic glass roof gives a light and airy feel to the cabin and combines with lashings of premium-feeling leather and metal to create an impressive interior ambience. As you might expect, tech is abundant too. Of the array of gadgets present we were particularly impressed with XPENG’s Voice Assistant — which can be used to seamlessly execute several functions including popping those futuristic doors.
Crucially though, despite all the trick features, it would appear XPENG hasn’t forgotten about the importance of fit and finish. The entire cabin is quietly underscored by an air of quality which belies the brand’s age.
Svelte styling and a well-appointed cabin would all be in vain if the P7 couldn’t marry them to an engaging drive. So, what is this executive EV like when you’re out on the open road?
Well, firstly, it’s worth noting that the P7 can be ordered in either single or twin motor guise, and that our test car was the latter — offering a healthy 466 bhp and a startling 0-60 mph dash of 4.1 seconds. Given that we had the entire Gotland Ring at our disposal, it would’ve been rude not to sample that performance, just for scientific reasons of course.
As with most EVs, flooring the accelerator provokes an instant response from the motors as you ride the vast torque reserves towards a rapidly approaching horizon. The P7 Performance feels lighting fast, there’s no debating that. But, thanks to the incredibly well insulated cabin — and a lack of tyre noise from Michelin’s special acoustic dampening material — it’s not until you check the speedometer that you realise just how quickly you’re shifting.
For a car with such a compliant ride, things don’t fall down when you charge into a turn with serious speed. The P7 steers accurately and responds to every tiny adjustment of the wheel. It even has vast grip reserves to lean on and has no trouble keeping up with our Polestar 2 pace car around the hot lap.
Such dynamic prowess is rooted in two factors. The first: XPENG’s double wishbone front and multilink rear suspension set-up, which ensures the tyres are in constant contact with the tarmac to exploit their full potential. And the second: the tyres themselves. Developed specifically for high performance EVs such as the P7, Michelin’s Pilot Sport EV tyre seamlessly blends refinement and efficiency, with a 15% increase in cornering stiffness compared to Pilot Sport 4 SUV.
It's fair to say that we left the track holding XPENG’S P7 in very high regard. The rate at which the brand has developed such a consummate all-round EV is quite astonishing and makes us wonder if it’s now China’s turn to disrupt the automotive status quo. Will you be considering an XPENG when they arrive in the UK? If not, you probably should be.
Hero image credit: XPENG