What is it?
Roewe is the China-only sibling brand of SAIC-owned MG. In fact, the UK’s new MG 5 SW EV is a rebadged Roewe. The brand has had considerable success selling electric and plug-in hybrids to fleet users but SAIC is now looking to go more upmarket with an electric-only brand badged with just an R.
The car is based on the Roewe i6/ei6, which hit the market in 2017 but has been available in only petrol and PHEV forms so far. It shouldn’t be mistaken for a mid-life update because it is largely a completely new car. In fact, R claims it is based on a dedicated EV platform, but the wheelbase length and width of the ER6 are exactly the same as the i6's.
What's it like?
First of all, there is that minimalistic new R logo on the front, back and key fob, although, curiously, the steering wheel and speakers still say Roewe. Whereas the ei6 has been an inconspicuous fleet car, the ER6 cuts a much sharper profile, with its steeply raked bonnet. As this is a fully electric car, there is no traditional grille, although the front spoiler still gets some fake air inlets. The front-end design and some aerodynamic alloy wheels help to reduce the car’s drag coefficient to an impressive 0.24. From the side and rear, the design is largely a carry-over from the base vehicle.
Occupants get one of the best interiors to date from SAIC. It's a huge improvement over the i6's. Materials are of good perceived quality, with plenty of soft-touch plastics, and the grey, brushed silver and starry blue colour scheme is a definite break from the norm. There are also some nice detail touches, such as a strip light that illuminates on the roof when the vanity mirror cover is opened.
Rising out of the high centre console and dominating the dashboard is the 14.3in curved infotainment screen. This, along with voice activation, controls nearly every function, right down to the sunshade and air conditioning. The apps on the system are of limited use, though. One even tells you what car you are driving and its colour. While the functions are mostly touchscreen activated, there are a few buttons at the base of the screen, but navigability could be greatly improved.
The ER6’s most striking feature is the three square metres of glass making up the roof and the rear passengers get the full benefit of this as it slopes down to the boot. Head room is at a premium for anyone taller than six-foot as a result, and leg room is none too generous, either. Although the near-flat floor will be appreciated by the middle passenger, the lack of a headrest and the uncomfortable seating position makes that perch suitable for short journeys only. Boot space is sufficient to accommodate large cases.