Yet another Chinese EV brand eyes up the UK – but this one claims to be European

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The Zeekr X isn’t just another Chinese EV. That’s what the very European executives were trying to make clear to me over dinner, anyway.

It’s built in China, yes, but it was designed by a German, engineered in Sweden and developed on European roads. Does the nationality of a car maker mean anything anymore, anyway?

After all, most of the Jeeps sold in Europe are about as American as a spaghetti western. The thing is, in every car I’ve driven from an obviously Chinese manufacturer, I’ve noticed a certain unfinishedness, even the ones that we like.

So does that lack of polish afflict this second car from Zeekr? Let’s fine out…



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The X is a compact crossover, because of course it is. Think Kia Niro EV and Cupra Born, although Zeekr claims to be more premium than those two.

The spec sheet makes for familiar reading: 268bhp from a single rear motor or 422bhp from dual motors and a 69kWh battery.

These are the same building blocks as for the recently unveiled Volvo EX30, because they share Geely’s SEA EV platform. The EX30 is a very similar size and shape to the X as well, so it will be interesting to see what it will offer to set itself apart, other than a more familiar name.

We will be able to bring you our verdict on the EX30 next month; for now, let’s evaluate the X. The design is more coherent than some of the other new entrants and less bland than the BYD Atto 3. But despite its extreme chunkiness, it’s no instant design classic, and more so because it shares some cues with Geely sibling brand Lynk&Co.


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Inside, it follows the BYD school of ‘cover everything in synthetic leather and call it premium’, which is preferable to hard scratchy plastic but flirts with kitsch and might not age especially well.

There are original details, though, such as the vertical bars of mood lighting, the rounded window switches and an ingenious multilevel centre console with a fold-out cupholder and neat roller shutter.

Typically for a Chinese car, the X is rather more generous with rear leg room than with boot space, although the latter is still more than serviceable, at 362 litres. Unsurprisingly, physical buttons are anathema to Zeekr, everything instead going through the 14.6in central touchscreen.

This takes plenty of inspiration from Tesla’s system and responds quickly, but there’s a bit too much going on and some of the menus don’t work in the most logical way.

Thankfully, you can instead use Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which are integrated reasonably well. You get a crossover-appropriate, tall-ish driving position on a seat that generally feels soft but pokes you in the lower back with overly aggressive lumbar support, even with that in its lowest setting.


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What hope, then, does this chassis have of harnessing 268bhp, never mind 422bhp? More than I was expecting is the answer, but then I wasn’t expecting much. There’s a sensible amount of grip, and the traction control works well, allowing nary a chirp of the tyres even when you try to upset it.

Rear-wheel drive is standard, and a rear bias to the four-wheel drive car means there’s more to powering out of corners than understeer and disappointment. Copious body roll in the corners and wild pitching under acceleration and braking make going quickly more akin to powerboating than driving, however, while the steering tells you next to nothing.

Many of the assisted driving features on my test cars were still in development or simply switched off, so I will reserve judgment on those. Zeekr doesn’t yet have an on-sale date for the UK, but it’s a question of when rather than if. We will almost certainly see the X over here at some point.


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On the move, the shrunken Austin Allegro steering ‘wheel’ results in slightly over-eager off-centre steering response, which is mismatched with the very soft suspension.

Zeekr’s product presentation talked about how the X shone with its driving dynamics, but initial driving impressions are that it’s quite resolute in playing the wafty cruiser.

The trouble is, that doesn’t last, because bumps can set the underdamped chassis a-wallow and the wheels still thud noisily through expansion joints. Isolation of both wind and road noise at speed is quite poor as well.


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It’s first launching in Sweden and the Netherlands, where its price converts to about £39,000. That’s less than for a Niro or Born, but it offers more standard equipment, including a heat pump. It should be competitive for range, too.

Zeekr claims 277 miles for the single-motor version and only 15 miles fewer for the dualmotor one. On my drive in mild conditions and on the flat and heavily speed-restricted roads of Sweden, the test cars returned 3.8 and 3.4mpkWh respectively.


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In light of the pricing, the X is in a similar position to the BYD Dolphin, although in a higher segment. It can’t match its competitors in any area other than perhaps perceived interior quality, but as long as you don’t ask a great deal from your car (which a lot of drivers don’t), it’s also not miles off.

Meanwhile, it offers quite a lot for less money. So back to the original question: does the X feel European, rather than Chinese?

It certainly benefits from what it shares with Volvo and manages better than some of the BYDs, but in the end, the rough edges always poke through and make it obvious that this couldn’t be a car from BMW, Stellantis, or indeed Volvo.

Illya Verpraet

Illya Verpraet Road Tester Autocar
Title: Road Tester

As part of Autocar’s road test team, Illya drives everything from superminis to supercars, and writes reviews, comparison tests, as well as the odd feature and news story. 

Much of his time is spent wrangling the data logger and wielding the tape measure to gather the data for Autocar’s eight-page road tests, which are the most rigorous in the business thanks to independent performance, fuel consumption and noise figures.