What is it?
The ES6 is the second car from Chinese electric start-up Nio, and here we're driving it some time ahead of its official on-sale date in June.
This is an SUV that shares its core architecture with the larger Nio ES8 but is lower, sportier and cheaper. China has a baffling array of EV start-ups, but Nio has already risen to the top of the pack through actually selling cars; the company has delivered more than 15,000 ES8s to customers since sales began last year. The ES6 is intended to push volumes significantly higher, and there are plans to eventually sell it outside of China.
Two powertrains will be offered. All ES6s are four-wheel-drive, with the standard version having a 215bhp permanent magnet motor turning each axle. The Premier Edition that we drove in China and the forthcoming Performance derivative both upgrade the rear to a beefier 322bhp induction magnet motor. The more efficient permanent magnet motor is used at lower speeds to improve efficiency, so the more powerful ES6 can actually also go further on a charge.
On China's admittedly optimistic NEDC testing methodology, the Performance can do 267 miles with the standard 70kWh battery pack versus 261 miles for the standard car, and with the upgraded 84kWh battery pack, it can manage 317 miles versus 304 miles. Nio claims a 0-62mph time of 4.7sec for the Premier Edition, putting it in the same four-second club as the Tesla Model X and Jaguar I-Pace. Top speed is electronically limited to 125mph.
The ES6 has an aluminium structure that is exceptionally strong, with Nio claiming a torsional rigidity of 33139lb ft/degree. Suspension is by twin wishbones at the front and a multi-link at the rear. Adaptive dampers are standard, while the Premier Edition and Performance models also get air springs. Much of the chassis and powertrain engineering has been done at Nio's European and American sites, including the company's UK office near Oxford.