2022 Nio ET7 Review

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All-new Tesla Model S rival from China holds its own in our first test drive.

Chinese EV company Nio entered Norway last year and will expand into another four European markets this year before it plans to enter 25 countries around the world by 2025, including Australia.

The first of three new models to go on sale this year based on Nio’s 2.0 platform, the ET7 gives us a glimpse of what Europe will look forward to in the second half of the year and what the car maker is currently capable of. With a small market like Australia still a few years off, there is no indication yet as to what models Nio plans on making available.

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Compared with previous Nio models, which were all SUVs, the ET7 is quite a departure. Sleek, almost coupe-like lines announce this Tesla Model S competitor sedan. It’s bristling with sensors, and one of the most noticeable identifiers are the units above the windscreen: this is one of the first cars to come with lidar.

While the interior is instantly familiar, Nio has really upped its game when it comes to the quality of materials. Soft-touch and textured materials swathe the cabin giving a very premium feel. Nio claims to use 40 per cent more Nappa leather than many other brand by putting it in areas such as inserts and the steering wheel.

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While not as minimal as that of the Tesla Model 3, the dashboard is uncluttered with almost everything controlled via the central touchscreen or orally through Nio’s dashboard-mounted digital assistant, Nomi, which swivels to address the speaker.

The driver gets both a digital instrument screen and a head-up display.

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Unusually, there’s no glovebox, which helps open up the space for the front passenger. The ‘floating’ centre console has storage space underneath and there’s a neat side-opening cubbyhole that hinges a different way depending on whether the driver or the front passenger opens it. Inside is the only USB Type-A port (all the others are Type-C), and it can act as a safe, being opened through either facial recognition or inputting a code.

Like the Mercedes-Benz EQS, the ET7 features the Dolby Atmos system, which incorporates speakers in the roof above each seat to give a greater depth and spatial definition to the musical experience through a total of 23 speakers.

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Rear head room should be enough for anyone a shade over 6ft tall and leg room is good. A small digital panel on the back of the centre console controls climate and seat functions. The rear seats gain air cushions and the massage, heating and cooling functions of the front. With the panoramic roof, the space is incredibly airy.

In Sport+ driving mode, the steering and suspension stiffen up and the acceleration is the fastest. On a track, it enables the ET7 to remain composed, despite its size, thanks to the air suspension and continuous damping control.

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There are also Sport, Comfort and Eco modes available, along with the ability to create a custom mode through mixing and matching settings. Other modes, such as Snow and Sand, will likely follow through over-the-air software updates.

Outside of Sport+ mode, the steering tends to be on the light side, and this, coupled with how easy it is to get the wheel disorientated (you have to make sure the logo is the right way up) means it can be problematic.

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There’s a bias for power from the front motor, with the more powerful rear motor mainly getting used for acceleration and times where all-wheel traction is really needed. One option allows you to slow acceleration time right down to 12.9sec and make the car front-wheel-drive-only.

The strongest regenerative braking setting is labelled Standard. It’s far from aggressive, and Nio’s set-up brings the car down to a coast rather than a stop anyway, so one-pedal driving is off the cards.

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Nio has said the right-hand drive UK will be one of the 25 markets that it will sell in by the end of 2025 and shown Australia as another country during its 2021 Nio Day presentation. The ET7 will be one of the first cars available in RHD, and it’s a highly capable electric performance car with a premium interior to rival anything from the big German trio. For Australia, its SUV line-up will likely be the first to land down under.

We were unable to test any of the driver-assistance features utilising the lidar, but they should be fully operable by then. One Nio service element that currently no one can match is battery-swapping, meaning you can minimise ‘charging time’ on long journeys to mere minutes.

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Also, by the time sales start in its expanded country list, a 150kWh semi-solid-state battery option will be available, boosting the ET7’s already impressive range further.

Mark Andrews

Final Verdict:

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