Test: Hongqi E-HS9 – Premium of wannabe?

Test: Hongqi E-HS9 – Premium of wannabe?

Who builds the Hongqi E-HS9? The Hongqi is one of the brands of FAW, which stands for First Automobile Works, the first car factory in China and still a state-owned company. At FAW they are responsible, among other things, for the large limousines used by the party leadership, but they have also been building cars for the Volkswagen Group, Toyota and General Motors since 1990. You don’t have to explain to them how to build cars. The plans are big, after the E-HS9 there are a number of models on the roll for later this year and next year with slightly more modest dimensions. The E-HS9 is in fact a car with proportions that we know from, for example, a Mercedes GLS. To make the most of it, parent group FAW spares no effort. For example, they even brought in the design chief of Rolls-Royce for the design of the Hongqis that come our way; the hand responsible for the appearance of the E-HS9 previously drew the Cullinan, for example. The design of the large Hongqi is by the same man who also designed the Rolls Royce Cullinan. How are you in the big Hongqi? The E-HS9 is currently available in three versions, the Business, the Executive and the President. The first two are seven-seaters, although it might be better to call it a 5+2. As an adult you have little to do on the back seat. The President is a six-seater. Instead of a rear seat for three people, the top version has two spacious armchairs. On those electrically adjustable seats, it is also easy to endure with an above-average stature, just like in the front. The only downside to the seating position is the limited adjustability of the steering wheel. It is quite limited axially, so you have to slide the chair forward again and the height adjustment is also not optimal, so that the steering wheel obstructs the view of the edges of the instruments. Both the front and the back of the Hongqi E-HS9 are above average. Is the E-HS9 easy to operate? The interior looks impressive, especially thanks to the dashboard that appears to consist of one large screen from the far left to the far right. They do that well. The materials used look quite nice from a distance, but on closer inspection they turn out to be just not what we know from Germany and England. The veneer on the center tunnel doesn’t even manage to keep up the appearance that it’s not wood. Like most competitors, Hongqi has kept the number of buttons and switches to an absolute minimum. For almost everything you have to rely on touchscreens or the buttons on the steering wheel. It is positive that you operate the air conditioning via a separate screen, so that you do not lose your navigation information when you turn up the heater, for example. For the driver, the operation via all screens requires the necessary attention, the menu structures are too extensive and also quite linguistic. The language on board is English. A Dutch version of the (limited) voice control is still being worked on, as is a translation of all texts in the instruments and on the multimedia system (by the way, we prefer to see clear icons). An example of cumbersomeness is the adjustment of the exterior mirrors. You have to scroll through menus via the buttons on the steering wheel. We understand that a loose button costs money, but they have gone too far here at Hongqi. It all requires just too much attention, attention that you cannot focus on the road at that moment. Large screens dominate the dashboard, a simple button on a switch is hardly to be found. How is the electrical performance? The E-HS9 is available in two drive variants, both with four-wheel drive. The Executive and President have a larger battery pack and a more powerful engine in the rear than the Business version. Incidentally, there will be a Long Range version of the President later this year. It has the same engine power as the President and the Executive, but has a battery pack of 120 kWh with which you should be able to travel 515 km according to WLTP. Now the maximum range with the 99 kWh battery is at 465 km and with the 84 kWh Business battery at 396 km. We drive the President, where the engines give the SUV weighing more than two and a half tons a big push forward if desired. Nice. The degree of regenerative engine braking never gets too intense, it’s not one-pedal-driving and there’s no need for that. It is blessed with an excellent braking system. Consumption is also on the hefty side. If we extrapolate the charged kWh in combination with the kilometers driven, we would be standing still with an empty battery after 290. And that with average driving behavior over a mix of what the Dutch road network has to offer. The Long Range variant will be a welcome addition to the range. All the more so because the loading speed is not exactly groundbreaking. At the alternating current charger, it cuts to a maximum of 11 kW (there is no option for 22 kW) and at the fast charger it stops at 140 kW DC. These are values ​​that a little middle class now surpasses. Admittedly: at Nio they already peak at 100 kW, but there they are rolling out battery exchange stations so that you can set off with a full battery after a few minutes. The two engines know how to give the large EV a big push forward. How does the Hongqi E-HS9 drive? The President is the only version with air suspension, which means that the E-HS9 is well served. In the comfort mode, the car is indeed pleasantly comfortable, without it rocking too much. A great setting for long straight, or at most slightly winding routes. For curlier routes and kilometers in built-up areas, we prefer the sport mode or at least the firmer suspension tuning. With still more than enough comfort, there is just a little less movement in the carriage and that is just a little more pleasant for the passengers. Without being overly communicative, the steering feels nicely firm. If there is anything to criticize about the steering, it is the lack of four-wheel steering. Due to its large dimensions, the Hongqi is certainly not the most manoeuvrable. Not that we got stuck somewhere, but it could be easier. The steering feels nice and firm. Four-wheel steering would make the big car even more manoeuvrable.

Source: AutoWeek by www.autoweek.nl.

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