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The Top Gear car review: Nio ES6
For:Looks good inside & out, impressive powertrain, spacious, charging infrastructure
Against:Poor body control, feels its weight, not available in the UK
What is it?
A car you’ve probably never seen before, from a company you’ve never heard of - the ES6 is an electric SUV very much in the mould of the Audi e-Tron, Mercedes-Benz EQC, Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla Model X.
Its manufacturer, Nio, is a five-year-old Chinese startup. You might have heard of its somewhat successful Formula E team, or the EP9 hypercar that held the Nurburgring EV lap-record for two years (until VW smashed it with the I.D R). It employs 9,000 people – three times as many as Ferrari, but a fraction of, say, Tesla’s 45,000-strong workforce – and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. So it’s a thing.
Even though it has offices in Germany, the US and the UK, Nio (or Weilai - meaning ‘Blue Sky Coming’ in Mandarin) doesn’t sell cars outside of China. Not yet, anyway. The five-seat ES6 is its second model (not counting the EP9, which wasn’t road-legal and built in extremely limited numbers) after the seven-seat ES8, of which it’s sold more than 15,000 examples since sales began last year. The ES6, which shares a great deal with the ES8, went on sale in June 2019.
‘NEVs’ – ‘new energy vehicles’ – are big business in China. Nio is one of almost 500 NEV manufacturers registered there, but one of the tiny minority that’s actually built, sold and delivered some cars. Though overall car sales are falling, sales of NEVs in China are growing steadily. That said, the government has just slashed generous subsidies paid to manufacturers by as much as half, putting pressure on the industry.
The ES6 is available with either a 70 or 84kWh battery, giving up to a claimed 317 miles or so of range (on the wildly-optimistic NEDC cycle). The cheapest ES6 claims around 260 miles.