Nascent Chinese electric car maker comes to Europe with new flagship electric SUV

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The Xpeng G9 is a new premium electric SUV that's set to rival cars from the likes of Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Tesla in a competitive class.

You might not have heard of Xpeng before, but you’ve doubtless heard of a firm like Xpeng – an ambitious Chinese EV start-up founded by a tech entrepreneur, backed by millions in venture capital investment, aiming to differentiate itself through software and technology and having a bold plan to rapidly expand into Europe.

Beyond a name that earns a decent Scrabble score and fills an X-shaped hole in the A-Z of car brands, can Xpeng succeed? Well, on the basis of our first taste of the P7 saloon and the G9, its new flagship SUV and first model designed from the start with global markets in mind, it certainly has the products to do so.

Xpeng (it's named for company boss He Xiaopeng, in case you were wondering) was founded in 2014 and began car production in China in late 2018. The G9 is its fourth model – although it has already since revealed the G6 SUV, which sits on a more developed, newer platform.

Xpeng G9 tracking photo

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The firm has grown rapidly, although as a premium-focused marque, it's still a relatively smaller player in the massive Chinese EV market. But it has plans beyond its borders: it quietly started selling cars in Norway in 2021 and the P7 and G9 will lead a big European expansion this year, including the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden. The UK is a target too, but there’s no official timeline yet.

The G9, like the P7, sits on Edward, which sounds odd until you realise that’s Xpeng’s slightly bizarre name for its skateboard-style EV architecture.

Slightly bigger than the Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV, slightly smaller than the Tesla Model X, it has the usual clean hallmarks of a premium-focused Chinese EV, with smooth, clean lines and rounded edges that help disguise those big, boxy dimensions. 

The interior has a genuine air of quality, with an upmarket feel that can rival any of the established premium brands. There’s nothing that would betray it’s the product of a firm that has been making cars since only 2018. 

The Premium Comfort and Audio package seen on our test car gets you nappa leather-finished seats with extra scope for adjustment and a massaging function, plus a Dolby Atmos stereo, while the seats in the spacious rear can recline by up to 10deg.

Xpeng G9 driving

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There’s also a spacious boot and a usefully sized frunk.

There’s a big digital isntrument display and twin touchscreens as standard: one the main infotainment interface, one solely for the front passenger.

The Tesla inspiration is clear here, virtually all the controls being accessed via the touchscreen. Thankfully the operating system is generally intuitive and easy to use, but with some quirks: you have to go through two menus to be able to adjust the driving mode or regenerative braking settings. And there's no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility either.

The tech on the G9 isn’t just restricted to the infotainment: it also includes Xpeng's Xpilot 2.5 system, which uses a raft of cameras and sensors to provide driver assistance.

The G9 is offered with a choice of a single rear-mounted motor or, as tested here, a motor on each axle. At the rear is a permanent magnet unit, which is always operational, and at the front an induction one that’s only called on when needed.

There’s a total system output of 543bhp and 529lb ft of torque, which predictably is enough to move the G9’s considerable 2.3-tonne mass with ease: the claimed 0-62mph time of 3.2sec feels eminently achievable.

Acceleration is impressively smooth and linear and refinement is impressive.

The AWD Performance model gets air suspension as standard, which makes for an impressively smooth ride - albeit helped by the incredibly smooth roads of The Netherlands.

The steering lacks much in the way of feel. It's light and easy but offers no real engagement - not that that would be a priority to buyers of a bulky electric SUV.

There’s a big 98kWh nickel-cobalt-manganese battery (a smaller 78.2kWh lithium-iron-phosphate pack is offered on the single-motor model), which gives an official range of 323 miles.

During our test run, we got close to the claimed efficiency of 2.9mpkWh, which suggests that just under 300 miles would be possible in the real world.

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And if you do have to stop for a charge, the G9’s 800V electrical architecture means it can take rates of up to 300kW – enough to add 62 miles of range in five minutes, if you can find a sufficiently powerful charger. Good luck getting that Starbucks order in.

In the Netherlands, the AWD Performance model sells for the equivalent of around £63,000 – not cheap by any means but certainly competitive for a car of this kind. 

It all makes for an intriguing alternative, with a promising combination of premium luxury and advanced technology. On the basis of the G9, Xpeng will be a firm worth us learning more about in the coming years.

Xpeng G9 static front

James Attwood

James Attwood, digital editor
Title: Acting magazine editor

James is Autocar's acting magazine editor. Having served in that role since June 2023, he is in charge of the day-to-day running of the world's oldest car magazine, and regularly interviews some of the biggest names in the industry to secure news and features, such as his world exclusive look into production of Volkswagen currywurst. Really.

Before first joining Autocar in 2017, James spent more than a decade in motorsport journalist, working on Autosport, autosport.com, F1 Racing and Motorsport News, covering everything from club rallying to top-level international events. He also spent 18 months running Move Electric, Haymarket's e-mobility title, where he developed knowledge of the e-bike and e-scooter markets.