China’s new Tesla Model S rival holds its own, alongside existing executive saloons

What is it?

Chinese electric vehicle company Nio entered Norway in 2013. It will now expand to four European markets, including Germany.

Norway received the original Nio E8 in its first generation, but we know now that all markets will receive second-generation models.

The ET7 is the first of three models based on Nio 2.0’s platform that will go on sale this year. It gives us a glimpse at what Europe can expect in the second half.

It’s what?

The ET7 is a significant departure from previous Nio models which were all SUVs. This Tesla Model S competitor saloon is sleek and almost coupe-like in its lines. The car is brimming with sensors. One of its most distinctive identifiers is the unit above the windshield: it’s one of the first vehicles to have lidar.

Although the interior is familiar, Nio has improved the quality of its materials. The cabin has a premium feel thanks to its soft-touch and textured materials. Nio claims that it uses 40% more Nappa leather in places such as the inserts on the steering wheel.

Although the Tesla Model 3’s dashboard is not as minimalistic, it is still clean. Most of the controls can be accessed via the central touchscreen, or orally through Nio’s dashboard-mounted digital assistant Nomi. This swivels to address speaker.

A digital instrument screen as well as a head-up display are available to the driver.

The glovebox is absent, which makes it unusual and helps to open up the space for front passengers. There is storage underneath the ‘floating console’ and a cubbyhole on the side that opens in a different manner depending on which passenger or driver opens it. It is the only USB Type A port (all others are Type C). This can be used as a safe by being opened using facial recognition or entering a code.

The ET7, like the Mercedes-Benz EQS has the Dolby-Atmos system. This system includes speakers in each seat’s roof to provide greater spatial definition and depth to the music experience. There are 23 total speakers.

For anyone over 6ft, rear head space should be sufficient. Leg room is also good. The climate and seat functions are controlled by a small digital panel at the back of the console. Rear seats have air cushions, as well as the heating, cooling and massage functions of the front. The space feels extremely airy thanks to the panoramic roof.

Although the boot is big, its sides are not very sturdy.

Sport+ driving mode has the best acceleration and stiffening of suspension and steering. It allows the ET7 to stay composed on a track thanks to the continuous damping control and air suspension.

You can also choose from Comfort, Eco, and Sport modes. Additionally, you have the option to create your own mode by mixing and matching settings. Over-the-air software upgrades will likely bring you additional modes such as Snow and Sand.

The steering is a little too light for Sport+ mode. This, combined with the fact that it’s easy to lose the wheel (you need to ensure the logo is facing up), can make it difficult.

The front motor is more powerful than the rear motor. This makes the car more efficient for acceleration and other situations where all the wheel traction is needed. One option allows you to slow acceleration time right down to 12.9sec and make the car front-wheel-drive-only.

Standard is the strongest regenerative brake setting. It is not aggressive and Nio’s setup brings the car to a coast instead of a stop. One-pedal driving is prohibited.

Do I need one?

Nio stated that the UK would be among the 25 markets it will sell in by 2025, but has not given a specific timetable. The ET7 is an electric performance car that can be driven with high-powered batteries and features a premium interior that rivals the German trio.

Although we were not able to test the driver-assistance features using the lidar, they should be fully operational by then.

Battery-swapping is a Nio service that no one else can match. This allows you to reduce the time it takes to charge long distances down to minutes.

A 150kWh semi-solid state battery option will also be available at the time of sales, increasing the ET7’s already impressive range.