By Mats-André Buraas
If you told me that the G3 is the first mass-market car XPeng ever made, I would say you are crazy – it is simply too good and far too competent to ever be a first product.
The car industry has never seen as many new companies in the last 100 years as they have in the last decade. Many of them will go away, or stay domestic, and most of them are backed by Chinese money.
XPeng is one of these, and they have already made a statement by using a lot of Tesla’s open patents and are clear about building a presence in Europe.
Sarpsborg Bilsenter, my local EV dealer in Norway, has decided to take a chance on this new Chinese brand and lent me the car overnight. Sales so far are going good, a solid indicator.
The first such XPeng to arrive in Norway is the G3, a crossover a bit smaller than a Kia E-Niro, but in the same segment of front wheel drive crossovers without any off-road pretensions. The ground clearance is only 13cm after all, meanwhile my Model 3 is 14cm as a reference. At 4,45 meters long it is a breeze to park up though and has a brilliant turning circle.
It costs around 400,000NOK ($47k) too, so around the same as a mid-range ID.3 and a bit cheaper than a Niro or Model 3 in Norway.
The big rear light-cluster and reflector-strip looks pretty cool, the front is trying a little bit too much, but I am no designer mind you. Overall it looks like nothing else, not ugly or particularly pretty, but distinctly its own creation.
The boot is big enough for your shopping, they say 380 litres of capacity, on top of that it has a big deep well under there too, so it has decent space, it also comes with a sliding cover if you don’t want anyone to see what’s for dinner. The automated hatch is also a very nice addition, can be operated by fob, screen or button on the hatch itself, no towing though.
The rear seats can be folded down, and I can actually sit behind myself too with space for my long legs (1.89m) and that’s not everywhere. Headroom is also fine due to the relatively squared of back of the car, ventilation and power sockets are always a welcome sight, no armrest though.
But one of the reasons for the good space is that the runners for the front seats are a tad short. Now I am not picky on my legroom, even though I have long legs, but in this car sadly I can’t sit properly in the front seats because it doesn’t go back far enough, so you end up siting with your knees high.
And that’s sad, because the seats are comfortable and shaped very well. The car has a leather interior, and the white colour does make the car feel lighter and roomier than it probably is.
If you have ever seen a picture of a Tesla, you will be forgiven for thinking that I have taken picture inside the wrong car.
But as I said they have used Teslas open patents, and much of the same ideas about layout and infotainment, even the massive, bigwindscreen from the Model X, except the interior feels really solid and proper in a way no Model X ever did. I have been in brand new Toyotas with more flimsy feeling interiors than this, and this is their first ever model from a start-up, impressive.
The materials in the cabin feels very good and solid most placed you touch, there are some plasticky surfaces, the cupholders and that area are lined in a textile material, not very expensive but it feels nice, and it stops things from making noise as it moves around, so that’s a great idea.
The screen behind the driver is clear and easy to use, the right part of it can be set up to change fan-speed and temperature and so on from the steering wheel, very handy.
The big screen, I think it’s around 15¨, is a breeze to use and far easier than much of the European car industry manages to come up with, I and the car is set up to get over the air updates in around March here in Norway, so it will be interesting to see how it evolves.
The built-in voice assistant is useless, and quite bothersome as it pops up at every mention of XPeng, and quite loud too. The car in general do make its warning sounds heard, and they can be rather annoying it might be a possibility to lower their volume somewhere gut I didn’t check all the menus.
Like mentioned above the car is front wheel drive, its outputs 197hp and 300Nm of torque,
0-100km/h in 8,6 is a result of it being a bit sluggish of the line, but once moving it never really needs more power. The regeneration has several levels, but it comes in soft and well judged. Long gone are the days where the regeneration came down like a hammer when you lifted of the go pedal.
Steering is relatively direct, the suspension is sporty but supple enough over bumps, so it makes a very pleasant ride over longer journeys.
It turns out the person who set up this chassis used to work for Porsche, and that sort of shows in how it handles, very little roll or movement, and it can be enjoyed on a twisty road.
The huge windscreen does suck some heat out of the cabin, so I had to run the climate control at much higher temps than usual, but it stays warm and comfy, so just a small observation.
The weather was around 4 degrees and rain, and rain draws a lot of energy as all EV owners know very well. With a 66,5kWh battery on the motorway I would imagine 250km (155 miles) is well within reach and more than that on country roads. In Summertime over 300km (186 miles) should be manageable. It clearly had a higher energy usage on the motorway than off it, but again this was in the wet.
I didn’t have access to it, but it also comes with a rather decent app that allows you to preheat and check charging and the usual stuff.
It has adaptive cruise, and that works like all other such systems, maybe a bit defensive sometimes, but I am sure they will improve it over time.
The XPeng pilot is not very useful at this time, we tested a version with Chinese software last year and that impressed. But this one doesn’t follow the line and goes all over the place. This is something XPeng will improve quickly, and just run it on adaptive so it is not a major issue.
The car has one charge-port on each wing, the left for fast charging and the right for normal charging. It fast charges using the CHAdeMO standard, that means it is limited to 50kW for all intents and purposes. One cool thing is that the big screen actually can show you the charge curve.
That curve stays pretty flat, so within 40 minutes you are good to go, or 18 minutes from 20-50%, so not too bad.
So, if you want so to sit high, have a modern interior, and don’t have a very big dog or have a massive need of four-wheel drive or very long legs, then this might be for you. It is comfy, fun, enough range for many and a decent sound system and very good seats. But comes from a brand no one ever heard of, but that is suddenly almost the new normal it seems.