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Review: Xpeng G6 EV

The G6 is a Tesla competitor that’s keenly priced and has loads of tech—so why did it leave us cold?
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Photograph: Courtesy of XPENG

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Rating:

6/10

WIRED
Onboard 800-volt system for fast charging. Spacious interior packed with kit as standard. Well priced. Good efficiency. Responsive central screen.
TIRED
Lackluster styling. Buried options in UI. Lack of physical mirror controls is a real pain. No one-pedal drive mode. Low-quality driver display (but at least there is one).

Xpeng is yet another Chinese EV company you likely haven’t heard of but ought to know about. Only a decade old, it already produces five different vehicles, employs 15,000 people, and has the capacity to ramp up to 600,000 cars per year. It began its expansion from China into Europe in 2021.

It’s also working on an eVTOL aircraft built to ferry two passengers across city skylines, and has a partnership with Volkswagen, which owns a 5 percent stake, to develop a pair of EVs due to arrive in 2026.

Xpeng currently makes the P5 and P7 sedans, the G9 SUV (which we were mighty impressed with), and a seven-seat MPV called the X9. This new G6 slots in below the G9, and is positioned as a direct rival to the best-selling Tesla Model Y. It’s coming to several European countries right away, with the brand launching in the UK, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Iceland in the second half of 2024.

Majoring on simplicity, there are just three variants of G6 to pick from. All come fully loaded, complete with a panoramic roof, heated seats front and rear (the fronts are also ventilated), an 18-speaker and 960-watt sound system with noise cancellation, two wireless phone chargers with integrated cooling, a heat pump, and, much like Kia and Hyundai, 800-volt charging with a vehicle-to-load function delivering up to 3.3 kW of power to domestic appliances.

All buyers need to do is pick from the five paint options (retina-searing orange, black, white, gray, or silver), choose between a black or white faux leather interior, and decide whether they want a tow bar or not. That's it. The German manufacturers, with their love of charging for every conceivable additional feature, should pay attention.

Three Gs

Photograph: Courtesy of XPENG

The three variants of G6 start with the RWD Standard, which has a 66-kWh battery pack that sends power to a single motor on the rear axle. This produces 258 horsepower and 440 Nm of torque, which is enough to hit 62 mph in a claimed 6.9 seconds.

Range is 270 miles WLTP, and Xpeng claims a 10 to 80 percent charge time of 20 minutes at up to 215 kW. Prices start at €43,000 ($46,300) in the Netherlands, where this brand-hosted drive event took place. Important point: This EV costs €2,990 less the Tesla Model Y.

Next up is the €48,000 RWD Long Range. This car sticks with the single-motor layout but increases the net battery capacity to 87.5 kWh, and the power is upped slightly to 286 horsepower while torque stays the same. The result is a slightly sprightlier 0-62 mph time of 6.7 seconds, while WLTP range jumps to 354 miles. Maximum charge rate also increases, to 280 kW, so it too can fill from 10 to 80 percent in a claimed 20 minutes.

The equivalent Model Y has a WLTP range of 373 miles, and is quicker to 62 mph by almost a second, but costs €1,990 more.

Lastly, Xpeng has the G6 AWD Performance. You’ll already know this is the one you don’t need: the one with supercar levels of performance guaranteed to thrill your children, upset the dog, and make any other passengers reconsider their choice of breakfast. Priced at €52,000 (undercutting the Tesla by a whopping €7,000), it has the same 87.5-kWh battery but adds a secondary motor to the front axle for all-wheel drive. Total power is 476 hp, torque is 660 Nm—more than a Lamborghini Huracán—and the 0-62 mph time is a claimed 4.1 seconds. Range falls to 341 miles and charge performance is unchanged.

The Performance is the one you don’t need, but it’s also the version of G6 tested here because car companies can't help showing off their top models on press launches, and so rarely offer up the models that punters will actually opt for.

That said, buyers who go for this range-topping model will want more than a “Performance” badge on the back to set their flagship G6 apart from the cheaper models. Using the same design throughout the range keeps costs down and is no doubt a boon to buyers of the cheaper models, but different wheels and sportier bodywork wouldn’t go amiss to help set the Performance apart.

Model Y Styling

Photograph: Courtesy of XPENG

There’s not much flare to the G6’s styling, but the ultra-shallow front and rear light bars help it stand apart (albeit only slightly) from all the other amorphous blobs that EVs in this sector have become.

And while we applaud Xpeng for offering such a bright shade of orange in what is otherwise a sea of gray, the black lines on each wheel arch make it look like bits of the bodywork are missing. Perhaps that’s where the bulging arches of the Performance model are supposed to go?

There are indeed hints of Model Y and Ford Mustang Mach-E to the silhouette, and while the sloping roofline of a coupe SUV usually robs rear-seat headroom, the relatively tall G6 (1,650 mm versus 1,624 mm for the Model Y) gets away with it.

There’s tons of space back there, and a big trunk too, but no frunk. We’re pleased to see Xpeng ditch the G6’s active rear spoiler for the European market, since on Chinese cars it further blocks what is already a fairly shallow rear windshield.

Interior Hits and Misses

Photograph: Courtesy of XPENG

Inside, the interior feels well put together. The leatherette seats are comfortable, the panoramic roof floods the cabin with light, and most touchpoints feel of an acceptable quality. There’s nothing particularly clever here, but it gets the job done.

There are two 50-watt wireless phone chargers with integrated cooling intended to help them run more efficiently, USB-A and USB-C sockets, and a spacious bit of stowage under the armrest and center console.

Bafflingly, there’s no glovebox. We also wish the door bins were lined to dampen the noise of things sliding around in them, and there’s a fair bit of cheap plastic in the lower half of the interior. That said, the design of the dashboard and upper halves of the doors is pleasant, and we’re thankful for Xpeng’s use of physical buttons on the steering wheel. No haptics here.

It isn’t all good news, though. Xpeng has joined the frustrating trend of removing physical mirror controls and relocating them to the touch screen. This is fine when first getting comfortable, but a total pain when you need to adjust the mirrors while driving or parking.

The 15-inch central display is otherwise decent, with a user interface that responds very quickly to taps and swipes. When needing to navigate around a road closure, we were able to quickly scan around the map for an alternative (from the passenger seat) and plot a new route just as we would on an iPad. Some other infotainment systems, including those from far more established brands, simply aren’t this quick.

Xpeng says the system is getting a major over-the-air upgrade later this summer, including an all-new UI that should make it more intuitive, and new mapping from TomTom. For now, the current system works well enough once you’ve climbed the initially steep learning curve, but aspects such as swiping down from the top to access a shortcuts page aren’t entirely obvious.

Temperature controls are all on the screen, too, with even commonly-used functions like seat heating buried beneath three or four taps of the screen. Not good. Hiding the car’s various drive modes—Standard, Eco, Sport, and All-Terrain—in there as well, along with the four brake regen options, means you’re unlikely to ever go hunting for them while on the move. A couple of physical controls would fix all of this.

In better news, we’re thankful to see a driver display behind the steering wheel. Just a few years ago this would seem like we’re stating the obvious, but today the Tesla Model 3 and Volvo EX30 both lack any form of instrumentation ahead of the driver. The Xpeng G6 has a 10.2-inch driver display, showing speed, gear, battery percentage (or range, but not both), navigation instructions, and nearby vehicles and road markings spotted by the car’s many cameras.

It all works as expected, although the display panel itself seems of quite low quality; the resolution and brightness are both fine, but the viewing angles are so tight that the screen appears completely black from the passenger seat. We’re told this isn’t intentional so are left to assume it’s simply a low-cost panel. Cost-saving measures also mean there’s no head-up display, which is a shame but not unusual at this price point.

Comfortable Ride

Photograph: Courtesy of XPENG

Time to get on the road. Right away, the steering needed adjusting from its firmest Sport setting to Standard. The former feels artificial and far too heavy, and is best avoided, while the latter is much more in line with what you’d want from a sensible EV like this.

There are four levels of brake regen on offer, but none of these provide a true one-pedal experience, since even the strongest mode, called X-Pedal, doesn’t bring the car to a stop without a press of the brake pedal. With Standard steering, Standard performance, and X-Pedal braking locked in, we’re just about content.

The G6 rides well for its price, and the double-wishbone front suspension and five-link rear axle do a decent job of keeping the car’s composure. It feels more comfortable than the stiffly sprung Tesla Model Y, and at 1,920 mm, the G6 is narrower than the 1,978-mm Tesla, making it easier to thread through the narrow streets we encountered on our drive around the outskirts of Amsterdam.

Visibility is good, thanks to relatively svelte A-pillars that don’t obscure the driver’s view too much when approaching junctions and roundabouts. The driving position is good, too, thanks to all models of G6 having an eight-way adjustable driver’s seat with four-way lumbar support.

Given the massive power and torque on offer, the G6 Performance accelerates more quickly than it has any right to. It sprints along highway on-ramps with real potency, but as ever with high-power electric SUVs it all feels rather unnecessary. We preferred leaving the powertrain in its standard, less powerful mode, and frankly would have preferred to drive the Long Range model instead, as that will surely be the best-seller.

Of far greater importance is the G6’s charge speed, which is claimed to max out at 280 kW in ideal circumstances (charger speed, battery charge, temperature, and such). We didn’t have a chance to deplete the battery far enough to reach those speeds, but saw it leap up to 150 kW when there was still more than 60 percent in the battery.

On efficiency, we averaged 3.8 miles per kWh after several hours of town and highway driving. This would likely fall during a longer high-speed cruise, but it’s a decent result considering we put no effort into driving economically. As a snapshot of estimated range, we saw an indicated 352 km at 66 percent, which suggests a total of 533 km or 331 miles, just 10 miles short of Xpeng’s WLTP claim.

ANC, But No Dolby Atmos

Photograph: Courtesy of XPENG

All versions of G6 come with an 18-speaker, 960-watt sound system made by Xpeng itself. Despite the home-cinema-like 7.1.4 layout, where seven speakers to the front, side, and rear of the cabin are joined by a subwoofer in the trunk and four more speakers in the roof lining (plus more in the headrests of the front seats), this is not a Dolby Atmos system, and, in truth, sounded fairly average. It isn’t bad—there’s plenty of power and it retains clarity at higher volume—but it doesn’t impress in the way the numbers suggest. There’s also active noise canceling, but since this can’t be turned on or off, it’s hard to tell how much tire roar and wind noise it’s removing.

Xpeng prides itself on the technology of its cars. The G6 boasts 29 sensors—including five millimeter-wave radars, 12 ultrasonic wave radars, and 12 cameras—and runs on an Nvidia Orin-X processor with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8155P cockpit chip.

This is all used to run the in-house infotainment system (wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are coming via a software update later this year, apparently) and the company’s XPilot safety system. This includes all of the usual autonomous safety tech, like emergency braking, blind spot warnings, and traffic light recognition, plus lane-keep assist and the G6’s active cruise control. As with so many modern cars, the G6 sometimes misreads road signs and incorrectly warns its driver about being over the speed limit.

There is no European equivalent to Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (Supervised). So while the G6 can be bought with lidar and more advanced semiautonomous driving in China, that’s missing from its EU offering.

As it stands, the system works well enough, but isn’t the most intuitive—our test car didn’t make any sort of sound to indicate when the system was enabled or disabled, and none of the steering wheel buttons used to manage speed and distance are labeled. The result is you’re going to mistake the volume control for the speed adjuster on your first outing.

Lastly, the voice assistant responded quickly to “Hey Xpeng,” but until its grasp of English is improved, it offers less functionality than in China. We asked it for the weather forecast, but it replied with the car’s range. Better was how it understood a passenger stating “I’m cold” and turned up the temperature on that side only.

Out in the Cold

Should you buy the Xpeng G6? Massive import tariffs mean Chinese cars remain off the menu in the US, but if you’re in Europe the G6’s competitive price could be appealing (but maybe not for much longer). It matches up to the Tesla Model Y in a lot of key aspects, and even exceeds its American rival when it comes to price, the upcoming inclusion of CarPlay and Android Auto, and ride quality.

But there’s still work to be done for the G6 to fully impress. It’s disappointing that we couldn’t try out the major UI update, called version 15, that’s due to roll out in July. But that at least demonstrates Xpeng is keen to quickly evolve, even if that means swapping out the entire mapping system for an alternative and reworking the user interface layout to accommodate smartphone casting. We applaud that, and look forward to seeing what other tech upgrades it has planned.

All that said, the G6 left us cold. It carries a lot of kit for the price, and a visit to Xpeng’s cavernous Dutch showroom suggests it means business, literally parking itself between Kia and Nio. It also has a roadmap for infrastructure expansion, partnering with existing service center groups to give buyers peace of mind. But there’s little here to really set the G6 apart from high-quality rivals like the Kia EV6, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Škoda Enyaq, Ford Mustang Mach-E, and of course, the Tesla Model Y.

Upstarts need to offer something new. Tesla’s Supercharger network drew in customers during its early years; Nio offers battery swapping; BYD already had enormous scale on its side before entering Europe.

For now, Xpeng feels like an also-ran. The G6 is a par-for-the-course EV that will appeal to drivers who want exactly this combination of size, range, price, and fast charging but don’t care about the badge. If that’s you, fine, but for now the G6 does little to get WIRED truly excited.