Automotive

Published on September 8th, 2020 | by Joshua Chin

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Hongqi E-HS9 Is A Chinese EV Rolls-Royce Cullinan

Will this budget EV alternative pull prospective buyers away from the Rolls-Royce SUV?

Hongqi, the premium arm of the FAW auto manufacturing conglomerate and possibly the closest thing to the a Chinese Rolls-Royce, has launched an all-new flagship EV SUV in the form of the Hongqi E-HS9. 

Getting the elephant in the room out of the way first, only a blind man will fail to notice that the E-HS9 does bear some resemblance to what some term ‘the best SUV in the world’. There is however a good reason to why the E-HS9 resembles the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, and that is because both the E-HS9 and the Hongqi H9 saloon on which it is based, are both penned by the ex-Rolls-Royce designer Jiles Taylor, who has been hired by Hongqi since his departure from Goodwood marque two years ago. 

The thin vertical slats that make up that slab-fronted front end design, combined with the thin horizontal headlight strips more than resemble the Rolls-Royce SUV, large rectangular air dams with integrated LED fog lights not withstanding. That said, the E-HS9 could possibly be said to be an even more imposing design than its more expensive British rival. 

There may be no Spirit of Ecstasy on the nose of the Hongqi, but the chrome strip that runs from the grille along the centreline of the hood certainly is distinctive. Once nice touch too is the thin LED DRL strip that runs from above the headlights and then continues vertically down the entire length of the grille. 

Down the sides too, the E-HS9 is more shapely than the blocky Cullinan. The rear three quarters of the Hongqi seems take design cues more from an Audi Q8, especially with its more raked D-pillar design, full-width rear light bar and interestingly an exposed rear diffuser. 

Sadly, no suicide doors are available on the Hongqi. There is however is a neat metallic accent trim that runs from the C-pillar all the way round the rear of the car to give this large SUV its floating island roof design that is so common on large cars nowadays. 

Stepping into the E-HS9, a barrage of screens greets you in the cabin of this luxury full-sized SUV. What appears to be wall-to-wall screens spanning across the cabin of the Hongqi will apparently include a digital instrument cluster, a central touchscreen infotainment display. And below that, a touchscreen panel that operates the climate control settings. 

While on the subject of screens, sources have claimed that some of these screens will also be used to feed the images from side-view camera. This, in addition to the claim of the availability of Level 4 autonomous driving, though has yet to be confirmed by the Chinese luxury automaker as of time of writing. Especially since in the pictures the Hongqi still retains conventional side mirrors. 

What is confirmed however is the powertrain of this BMW X7-sized luxury SUV. 

All E-HS9s will be fitted with an electric motor over each of its axle, with the base-spec coming with dual 160 kW motors, while the top-tier variants will feature a more powerful 245 kW rear motor, thus producing a combined power output of 405 kW (551 PS). 

Regardless of motor size, a 92.4 kWh battery pack is the sole power storage option. This is supposed to translate to a 500 km range according to the manufacturer. That being said, this is perhaps only true for the less powerful base variants of this large luxury SUV. 

Prices of this Chinese zero-emissions luxury SUV has yet to be officially announced by Hongqi, but prices of 480,000 yuan (RM 293,000) to 550,000 yuan (RM 335,000) appear to be the ballpark figure floating around the E-HS9. Official pricing should be announced when the E-HS9 officially debuts later this year, alongside its conventionally-powered petrol sibling, the HS9. 

To answer the question posed right at the beginning, the E-HS9 will most probably not steal much sales away from Rolls-Royce, even in its home market of China. That said, this EV Chinese luxury SUV shows how far China has come in the automotive sector. To even be able to offer a luxury SUV on par with BMW, Audi and Mercedes is already no mean feat, offering what could possibly be the first full-sized luxury electric SUV certainly demands some sort of praise. 

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About the Author

Automotive journalist. Professional work on dsf.my and automacha.com. Personal writing found at driveeveryday.me. Instagram: @driveeveryday



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