Meet the 1287bhp HiPhi A | CAR Magazine

Meet the 1287bhp HiPhi A

Published: 16 November 2023 Updated: 16 November 2023

 New HiPhi A claims to be ‘the hypercar for the next generation’
► 1,287bhp, 0-60 in two seconds (ish), and 22,000rpm
► HiPhi won’t hit the UK until 2026

Really, have you made it as an upstart electric car manufacturer if you haven’t announced a 1000+bhp hypercar that expertly blends luxury and performance with groundbreaking innovation? Now it’s the turn of upstart ‘LuxTech’ HiPhi and its newly announced A.

Shanghai-based HiPhi has teamed up with fellow Chinese brand WESAIL to adapt the design and engineering of its existing ‘Z’ to turn it into a proper electric hypercar. Using parts from WESAIL’s Apollo project, HiPhi claims the four-seat hypercar will produce 1,287bhp from two motors on the rear axle and one on the front, giving it a top speed of 187mph and dispatching the 0-60mph sprint in around two seconds.

Such specs would put it up against the Tesla Model S Plaid, Rimac Nevera and Zeekr 001 FR.

HiPhi A - rear three quarter

Battery specifications are yet to be detailed but HiPhi says it uses an in-house developed carbon-fibre unit capable of discharging 1.5MW of power at its peak. The motors, meanwhile, use carbon-fibre rotors, oil cooling and direct cooling of the cylinder coils, allowing them to spin at up to 22,000rpm and maintain ‘high’ power for more than 30 minutes.

Externally, the HiPhi A comes wreathed in carbon-fibre and matte paint, with a huge rear wing showing it means business. It’ll make its debut at the Guangzhou Auto Show on November 17, and production will commence – on a limited basis – from 2025. Chances of it hitting the UK seem unlikely, but anything’s possible…

Read more about HiPhi and its other EVs below.

All about HiPhi – the latest Chinese EV brand vying for your attention

There are a lot of Chinese electric car brands heading for the UK and Europe right now, and no one would blame you for expecting them all to be low-cost / high value efforts targeting budget-conscious buyers. But HiPhi is among the firms that intend to buck that assumed trend, for it’s bringing a range of what it calls LuxTech premium EVs and isn’t afraid to charge accordingly.

The HiPhi X SUV and HiPhi Z ’Super GT’ go on sale in Germany and Norway in August 2023, priced from 109,000 Euros and 105,000 Euros, respectively. That’s approximately £94,000 and £90,000 – a lot of money for any car, let alone one from a brand you haven’t heard of gunning for Audi, BMW and Mercedes.

Having driven both HiPhi models, that kind of commitment is going to be a leap of faith but doesn’t seem totally outrageous for the performance and technology you get back in return. Even if some of the latter is rather gimmicky – LED panels that allow drivers to display emojis instead of relying on hand gestures, for example – we are talking about dual-motor machines with as much as 662bhp, 0-62mph in 3.8sec and a projected real-world driving range of around 375 miles.

These are also very distinctive-looking EVs – the HiPhi Z in particular looks like it’s rolled off the set of a scifi movie, while the HiPhi X has rear doors that encompass opening gullwing roof panels – so they’re likely to attract plenty of attention. Both are expected to arrive in the UK late 2025 or early 2026.

Interested? Then keep reading…

Who’s behind HiPhi?

The giant Chinese car companies with their multiple brands are like sharks in the water – sooner or later you know they’re going to start taking chunks out of people. But HiPhi is a little bit different.

Its parent company is called Human Horizons, and it’s a privately funded organisation aiming to make a name for itself in Smart Vehicles, Smart Cities and Smart Transport.

HiPhi electric cars - Z digital GT, driving

Smart Vehicles is where HiPhi comes in; bristling with cameras, lidar and other sensors, this is Human Horizons’ only car brand, and there are no plans to change that situation any time soon (though there are more HiPhi models in the pipeline).

Smart Cities is about delivering smart infrastructure – car-to-x, charging solutions – while Smart Transport is hoping to take autonomous vehicles forward. Human Horizons already has a small fleet of self-driving buses on the road in a Shanghai tech district.

So HiPhi is small fry?

It looks that way initially, yes. However, CEO, chairman and founder Ding Lei has a background among joint-venture automotive projects in China and local government, and HiPhi is already proving itself capable of moving very fast – in a manner that befits a start-up rather than a conglomerate.

The company was only founded in 2017. It launched the X SUV in 2021, and six months later it was the bestselling premium EV in China – ahead of all the usual Western suspects. No other Chinese carmaker has managed to do this.

HiPhi electric cars - X SUV with doors open

It would appear the firm has got its pitch just right. These cars are talking points that deliver unusual tech capability alongside solid performance and passenger-centric luxury.

For instance, forget remote locking or access via smartphone: HiPhi offers entirely power-operated doors that open to 90 degrees and can be activated via facial recognition.

What EV platform does HiPhi use?

Both current cars are based on the company’s own HiPhi V-Platform – an aluminium and steel mix with space for a lot of Ni80 lithium-ion battery cells (120kWh in the Z, 94kWh in the X) and some high-tech chassis add-ons co-developed with Bosch.

HiPhi electric cars - Z interior

As a result, they both come with adaptive air suspension, continuous damper control and rear-wheel steering. So although these are 5m+ cars with a long wheelbase, they can be turned around in city environments with relative ease.

They also feature iBooster braking (for greater consistency than a hydraulic / regen blend), and staggering numbers of sensors.

Are there more HiPhi models in the works?

The HiPhi Y was shown for the first time at the Shanghai motorshow in April 2023 – this is a smaller SUV with a lower price-point, but still much of the high-tech razzamatazz of bigger models.

HiPhi electric cars - Y with doors open, overhead rear view

So while power-output is likely to be cut back to around 331bhp, items such as the rear-wheel steering, gullwing rear doors, and LED obsession will be carried through to volume buyers here. Expect a choice of single and dual-motor variants for this one, targeting the forthcoming electric Porsche Macan.

Further down the road, HiPhi has confirmed two more models are already way beyond the planning stage. One of these may be the A (announced above).

Does the LuxTech or TechLux thing hold true?

You know, in our experience with HiPhi so far, it largely does. The interiors are well crafted, the leather – vegan or otherwise – surfaces feel suitably plush, and you get a lot of seat adjustment. Not to mention plenty of screens.

The performance is certainly no joke, either. These are fast cars that can handle themselves adeptly.

HiPhi electric cars - X interior

However, there are some plastic choices in prominent positions that don’t fit with our usual ideas of premium (this may be a cultural thing – it’s being fed back to the factory) and wind noise isn’t as well contained as it is in some premium EVs we’re more familiar with.

More pertinently, it feels very much as if this is the short of mindset change that would only really be possible with the coming of age of the electric motor. Tesla shook things up, now HiPhi and others appear keen to hurl the baton over the… horizon. And with right-hand drive still a couple of years away, we can only see the quality improving.

Either that or the whole thing will fizzle out and sink without a trace. A brand to watch, for sure.

By CJ Hubbard

Head of the Bauer Digital Automotive Hub and former Associate Editor of CAR. Road tester, organiser, reporter and professional enthusiast, putting the driver first