Electric car: First driving report from the Aiways U6

The car manufacturer Aiways, founded five years ago in Shanghai, set a new record in August last year with around a thousand pre-orders in one day for its U6 coupé in China. A year later, this model also comes to Europe. Looking at the basic engineering, Aiways is putting the U6 on the MAS (More Adaptable Structure) platform. This is the technical basis of the Aiways U5, which was released in 2019.

On first contact, the interior with its soft leather surfaces and the non-slip steering wheel offers a better impression than that of the U5. In our test car, the joints on the steering column and glove box did not fit perfectly. It’s nice that the tailgate swings open far enough for you to be able to stand under it even if you’re 1.85 meters tall. The wheelbase of the Aiways U6 is 2.80 meters, so there is a lot of space in the back of the E-SUV coupé, especially because you can put your feet under the front seats. Despite the sloping roof line, there is still enough space above the head.

With a weight of only 1790 kilograms, the Aiways U6 is one of the lightweights among its peers. Its nominal power of 160 kW and the torque of 315 Nm are enough to accelerate the Aiways from a standstill to 100 km/h in seven seconds, at 160 km/h the electronics gently regulate it. Aiways states the average consumption as 15.9 to 16.6 kWh/100 km, during our test drive the on-board computer showed 17.8 kWh/100 km.

Crossover is modern, the U6 is a mixture of SUV, coupe and sedan.

The batteries from the battery supplier CATL have a capacity of 63 kilowatt hours, which according to WLTP should be enough for 400 kilometers. During our test drive, the system still showed 277 kilometers with a battery charge level of 72 percent, which corresponds to a range of 385 kilometers. With a maximum of 90 kW, charging does not achieve top values: After 35 minutes, the energy storage is filled from 20 to 80 percent. If you use the 11 kW charger with alternating current, according to the data sheet it takes seven hours at best from zero to 100 percent.

A gimmick is the large operating lever of the automatic, which is modeled on the driving lever of a yacht: If you turn the handle and stand on the brake at the same time, the gear is engaged. The well-balanced chassis with McPherson suspension at the front and the multi-link rear axle is one of the strengths of the U6, because it reliably filters out bumps without the body rocking annoyingly. When you have to accelerate quickly from a standing start, the driven front wheels fight for traction. The standard, eco, sport, individual and “single pedal” driving modes offer only a few graded differences. The steering is better than the U5, but remains on the indirect and uncommunicative side when it comes to traction. At higher speeds, the wind noise on the A-pillar or the exterior mirrors is noticeable.

Complicated menu and a lot of touch controls

What we noticed positively at a price of around 46,000 euros is the extensive equipment: Among other things, a heat pump, two-zone automatic air conditioning, heated front seats, a 360-degree camera and a whole arsenal of assistance systems, which the Aiways U6 ahead of competitors like the VW ID.4 and the Hyundai Kona EV (test). These include a blind spot warning system and a lane departure warning system. However, the constant ringing caused by the warning tones from the assistants is annoying. To deactivate them, you have to fight your way through various infotainment menus.

The infotainment command center is a 14.6-inch touchscreen, but the menu navigation is nested. In the European models, a virtual button should therefore be integrated in the top menu level, which restores the last saved settings. The fact that Apple CarPlay only works with a cable, but Android Auto works wirelessly, is because the infotainment software is based on Android.

The fact that navigation takes place via smartphone has already brought criticism to the Aiways U5, since the combination of piloting, remaining range and charging stations along the way is an important element in an electric car. For this reason, an app called Pump is to be combined with Google Maps for the U6, which accesses the vehicle data and can therefore also recommend charging stations based on the remaining range. However, this solution was not yet integrated into the test car.

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