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The Top Gear car review: Nio ES6
On the inside
Layout, finish and space
Of course there are similarities between the ES6 and any Tesla. The door handles motor out of their housings to meet you, there’s no start button (just put your foot on the brake and select a gear) and there’s a whopping interior-dominating portrait touchscreen.
Said touchscreen uses Nio’s own software, which is impressively slick. As far as we can tell, anyway – at the moment it’s only available in Mandarin, which we can’t read. It responds to inputs quickly and the graphics are crystal-clear. The most other-worldly thing in here is the voice assistant, which Nio calls Nomi.
In principle it works like systems from Mercedes and BMW – only this time it has a FACE. A little swivelling head thing that sits on top of the dashboard, where in, say, a Porsche you’d find the stopwatch. It looks at you when you talk to it (which you can do from any of the car’s five seats) or if you don’t put your seatbelt on. And if you’re listening to music it starts shaking a set of virtual maracas.
All very odd, but rather amusing nonetheless. As for the voice control itself, our aforementioned lack of Chinese language skills renders us incapable of actually talking to Nomi. Seemed a bit hit and miss when native speakers were feeding it nav destinations, though.
The design and layout of the interior is interesting. Nio hasn’t done a Tesla and entirely deleted the centre tunnel (though no doubt it could have done). It’s quite high, in fact, so the driver and front passenger feel cocooned to a degree. There’s storage underneath, a wireless charger on top and a deep centre storage bin. Material quality feels broadly good – we were expecting something that felt built down to a price, but the ES6 isn’t like that at all.
It’s big, too. Very spacious wherever you’re sitting. A front passenger’s seat that slides right the way back and gets an extendable footrest is very comfortable indeed, and the driving position is bang on for a car of this size and type. We spent two whole days behind the wheel and didn’t feel fatigued in the slightest. Not from the car, anyway.