New Nio EL6 arrives in Europe to nobble the Mercedes EQC | CAR Magazine

New Nio EL6 arrives in Europe to nobble the Mercedes EQC

Published: 16 June 2023 Updated: 14 September 2023

► Destined for Germany, Holland and the Nordics first
► However, it could come to the UK in 2024
► Maximum range of 329 miles and 483bhp output

This is the all-new, all-electric Nio EL6. It’ll go on sale in Europe towards the end of 2023, touching down in Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Norway first before branching out into other markets. In Germany, the SUV’s price will range between €65,500 and €74,500 (around £56,000 to £64,000), putting it into the same price-bracket as the Tesla Model Y and BMW iX3.

The Nio EL6 is the second-generation version of the Chinese brand’s ES6 SUV, which was unveiled back in 2019. It’s still called the ES6 in the company’s home market but, for whatever reason, Nio decided to rebadge it as the EL6 for its launch on the European stage.

Nio EL6 pan shot driving, blue paint, city background

It’ll become the new cornerstone of Nio’s assault on Europe, tackling the hotly contested mid-sized electric SUV niche. The space is populated by some of the best electric SUVs on sale from seasoned European manufacturers such as Audi, Mercedes and Volvo – so it’s a big ask for European buyers to shun their local heroes and put their faith in what’s still an unproven brand in the west.

Once the EL6 is established on the continent, there’s also a chance it could hop across the Channel to the UK. Nio has already started piecing together its British business detachment, although executives are remaining tight-lipped on which car we’ll receive first. Our money’s on the EL6 – but whatever the outcome, we probably won’t see Nios being sold on UK soil until 2024 at the earliest.

What’s powering the Nio EL6?

The EL6 has two electric motors, with one mounted on each axle. Combined, they have an output of 483bhp and 516lb/ft of torque which Nio says is enough for a 0–62mph time of 4.5 seconds. That figure is identical to the Audi SQ8 e-tron, but a second slower than the Tesla Model Y Performance.

Buyers can choose from two battery packs. The entry-level model has a 75kWh battery, while the flagship model gets a 100kWh unit. Crucially, both are compatible with Nio’s battery swap stations, which can replace a drained battery with a charged one in as little as five minutes.

Nio EL6 front three quarter driving, blue paint, suburban background

Nio’s swap stations promise to make refuelling an EV as convenient as filling combustion car with petrol – and with the biggest battery equipped, the EL6 has a maximum range of 329 miles. Nio is yet to confirm how long it’ll take the EL6 to recharge at a wired rapid charger.

Any clever technology?

Loads. The cabin is very minimalistic, with most of the functions being controlled by a large, portrait infotainment screen in the middle of the dashboard. Perched behind the screen is NOMI – Nio’s cutesy artificially intelligent assistant. It can be used to operate basic functions on the infotainment system, but it can also perform more complicated tasks such as automatically setting the seating and steering wheel positions when it senses one of the car’s registered drivers approaching.

Other features include a fully digital instrument cluster, a head-up display, a surround sound system and a 256-colour ambient lighting system. Why anyone would need a different interior light colour for every working day of the year is beyond us, but we suppose it’s nice to have the option.

Nio EL6 dashboard and infotainment system, cream upholstery, studio background

Nio also says it devoted lots of time to making the EL6’s seats comfortable. The driver’s seat is 20-way adjustable and features a series of inflatable lumbar support cushions, while the passenger seat can be optionally swapped out for Nio’s Lounge Seat. The brand says this latter upgrade delivers extra comfort with 160-degree reclining, an eight-point massage system, an extendable leg rest and three-zone heating that can independently barbecue your back, your buttocks or your calves.

Most importantly, the EL6 features Nio’s latest NT 2.0 technology platform, which supports both software over-the-air (SOTA) and firmware over-the-air (FOTA) updates. That means Nio can make hotfixes to the car’s factory-delivered tech (say, to remove bugs or improve load times) and add new features (such as fresh menu designs or additional applications) completely wirelessly. Tesla is the only other mainstream manufacturer currently offering this functionality.

Is the Nio EL6 practical?

The specs certainly look encouraging. Its boot has a capacity of 579 litres with the rear seats in place and 1430 litres with the bench folded flat. That’s more than you get from the BMW iX3, Audi Q4 e-tron and Mercedes EQC. It also has a longer wheelbase than all three of those cars, which should produce a little more space in the cabin.

Nio also says you can tow up to 1,200kg with the EL6, which is plenty enough capacity for an average caravan. And if you’re all-in on the outdoorsy lifestyle, the EV’s roof is also rated to carry up to 75kg. So, you can take your mountain bike or your canoe on your countryside escape.

Although it’s not critical to its performance as a family car, Nio says the EL6 also has the largest sunroof in its segment. It almost spans the entire length of the cabin and, when retracted, it allows one square meter of natural light to enter the interior.

Nio EL6 overhead static, blue paint, parked on marina, bike attached to rear

By Luke Wilkinson

Deputy Editor of Parkers. Unhealthy obsession with classic Minis and old Alfas. Impenetrable Cumbrian accent