News Detail

Avatr 12: Thick, But Slick

Issuing time:2023-12-04 14:30Author:Ethan Robertson


What is it?

The Avatr 12 (pronounced one-two) is an all-new electric sedan with an advanced driver assistance system from Huawei and enough power to play tug of war with the moon. Avatr is a premium brand for Chinese automaker Changan, and the 12 is priced as such, with entry-level models selling for about 41,000 USD, and our top spec dual motor GT trim test drive stickering for 54,000 USD.


Demon Lord

The Avatr brand made a splash with the styling of their first model, the Avatr 11, a coupe SUV with flying buttresses. The Avatr 12 isn’t trying to adopt the styling of a mid-engine sports car, but it is no less bold. Like the 11, the front-end lighting signature of the 12 looks like a villain from an anime, and I don’t mean some mini boss from the first season, I mean a demon lord that they don’t get to fight till like season three.

This Demon Lord is thick too. The 12 looks big in photos, but it looks downright huge in person. At a hair over 5m in length, it’s mere millimeters shorter than a Porsche Panamera, but a bit taller. Unlike a lot of slab-sided EVs, however, I think the 12 wears its size with surprising grace. Whereas some of its competitors look like they’re stretching upward in an awkward attempt to imitate an SUV, the 12 just looks sleek.

It’s made even sleeker if you option the digital side view mirrors. This is a technology that has been available in certain markets for some time, but it’s just now making it to China. Unlike a yoke-style steering wheel, whose advantages are dubious at best, the advantages of these digital rear-view mirrors are obvious; they lower aerodynamic drag. The question that remains is whether that small improvement in aerodynamic efficiency is accompanied by a noticeable drop in useability.


What really makes the design of the Avatr one to look so hefty is this rear end, which seems to be car from a single giant chunk of metal. The truth isn't very far off. You see, when people complained that the Avatr11's rear window is too small. Avatr said, We hear you. Then they proceeded to completely delete the rear window on the Avatr. 12. Now you really have to rely on the digital rearview mirror inside.

The Avatr 12, might not have flying buttresses like a mid-engine sports car, but it does have some sports car inspired design elements, such as this electrically deployable rear spoiler. It’s a nice touch, but it does look small on this design. The 12's controversial styling does have its advantages, including a large rear opening. Actual cargo space isn't especially impressive, however, at just 350 liters. Thankfully, the 12 also has a 65-liter frunk.


Monolithic leather

Open the electrically operated doors of the Avatr 12 and you’ll be greeted by a design language called “Gentle Tech. Its minimalist approach results in a space that’s almost completely free of ornamentation. The dash is a single monolithic chunk of leather, uninterrupted by any pattern, let alone wood, plastic, or metal trim pieces.  

What few buttons you will find on the interior of the 12 are on the subtle side, particularly those on the door. Locking and unlocking the doors and windows is accomplished via two small touch button logos, but first prize for subtlety must go the doors switch. Instead of a handle, the electrically operated doors are opened via a double-tap of the small, rectangular button on the door panel. It’s a slick look, but one that will result in a lot of explaining every time you have a new passenger. Less subtle, but still attractive, is the row of silver buttons below the center screen. This is where you’ll operate your front and rear windows, as well as your 360-degree camera and automatic parking functions.

With next to no buttons, your focus is first drawn to the screens, of which there are many. The central screen is the one where you get most of the work done. It measures 15.6 inches and runs the Huawei Harmony operating system. That’s backed by an even larger 35.4-inch 4K horizontal screen, which acts as your instrument cluster and passenger screen. Up top is your digital rear-view mirror. If you pay the extra 1,600 USD for the digital side-view mirrors, the long screen is flanked by two small displays.


Harmony OS still very good

The Huawei Harmony OS is easily one of my favorite systems, mostly because it just works. The menus are precise and uncluttered, and even the self-developed GPS app called Petal Maps, is easy to use. Inside Petal Maps is a fun feature I haven’t seen before. If you click this button, it will show you a visual representation of where you could reach with your current charge. It’s not that useful in daily life, but it’s a nice reminder that your electric car can take you farther than you probably expect.

Between the instrument cluster and center screen sections of the upper display is are six “cards” that show information like your tire pressure, current electric range, and the media that’s playing. The order of those cards can be customized, and some can even be deleted, though certain cards, like your tire pressure, are permanent. It’s a unique and interesting way to fill that big upper screen, which isn’t very useful for displaying much else. As a small party trick, if only the driver seat is occupied, then the cards will tilt in their direction, and visa versa for the passenger. If both seats are occupied, the cards stay straight.  

The inclusion of the 35.4-inch screen necessitates some other changes to the interior, including the sqwheel, or square wheel. Is it as easy to use as a round wheel? No, but without it, you wouldn’t be able to see the instrument cluster, which is widely considered to be important when driving.


Luxurious front and rear

The thrones of the 12 are appropriately luxurious. Trimmer in optional Nappa leather, they’re also heated, cooled, massaging, and have a zero-gravity mode for the passenger AND driver. This is the first time I’ve ever seen one available for the driver as well. The 12 can be equipped with a somewhat ridiculous 27 speakers, so you can pump out the jams while you lay down and get massaged.  

Unlike the Avatr 11, which only has electrically operated doors in the front row, both the front and rear doors of the 12 are electrically operated. Deleting the rear window of a vehicle has tendency to turn the second row into a crypt-like environment. Thankfully, such is not the case with the Avatr 12, thanks to its large overhead glass roof. As an added bonus, it’s “smart glass”, i.e., the type that changes opacity based on the intensity of the sun, so you won’t get roasted like a chicken on sunny days.

The seats themselves are above average when it comes to legroom, headroom, and even low back support, but that doesn’t mean it’s a perfect second row. The 12 doesn’t have any media or AC controls for second row passengers. It does have four-zone voice controls for that and more, but you shouldn’t have to think very hard before realizing that is far less convenient than a small screen or buttons. There’s also the paucity of USB ports, of which there is but one. At this price point, I expect at least two ports.  


Now you can Huawei anywhere

The Avatr 12 uses the same Huawei inside driver assistance system as the Avatr 11 SUV, at least the same hardware. One obvious area of improvement for this current system is the fact that it no longer requires high-definition mapping in order to operate. When we drove the Avatr 11 in the city of Chongqing, it was operating using a high-definition map, and therefore limited to certain cities in China. That's no longer true of this system, as Avatr claims it can operate anywhere.

Whether it was navigating Tuesday morning rush hour traffic in Kunming, Yunnan, or cruising highways between shooting locations, the system performed impressively well. The way that it braked, turned, and responded to obstacles ranging from pedestrians, to scooters, to motorcycles was confidence-inspiring. I would go so far as to Huawei Inside performed better than other systems, such as XPeng’s XNGP, but when it comes to driver monitoring, it’s too lax. It doesn’t’ monitor your eyeline, and even the reminders to keep your hands on the steering wheel seemed few and far between. That makes it more user-friendly, but it also makes it easier for the system to be abused, and therefore, less safe.


Tug of war with the moon

The Avatr 12 uses the same powertrain options as the 11 SUV, meaning anywhere from 230 kW and 379 Nm of torque (313 hp/274 lb-ft) from a rear mounted electric motor, to 425 kW, 650 Nm (575 hp/481 lb-ft) from a dual motor powertrain version like our test car. It also means a 0 to 100 kilometers per hour time, anywhere from 6.7 all the way down to 3.9 seconds. Like I said, enough power to play tug of war with the moon. That power is provided by a 94.5-kWh lithium ion battery with 650-700 km of range on the CLTC cycle.

The Avatr 12 combines adjustable air suspension with a double wishbone front and multilink rear. The difference between the various suspension modes isn’t terribly noticeable, and regardless of which one you choose, it lets in too much vibration over small imperfections. Interestingly, it was much better at absorbing large bumps and potholes. But while it isn’t the most comfortable suspension, a brief trip around a cone course did show me that it handles with much more poise than you might expect from a big electric sedan. Steering is numb, but I was able to enter a corner with confidence. Is it a performance sedan? No, I wouldn't go so far as to say that, but they don't market it as such either. They call it a grand tourer, and I think that is perfectly accurate.

But being a GT requires more than just power and poise, you also need refinement. The Avatr 12 has the first two in spades, but there is room for improvement on that last one. At highway speeds, wind noise is on par with a Tesla Model 3, and that’s not a compliment. Blame those sexy frameless windows.



The Avatr brand will go on sale in the European market starting next year, and that’s great news for European consumers. Sales might not reflect this fact here in the Chinese market, but the Avatr brand is producing some interesting and competitive vehicles, and the Avatr 12 further solidifies it as one of my favorite Chinese EV brands.


Avatr 12 GT

Motor: Front + Rear-mounted

Power: 425 kW, 650 Nm (575 hp/481 lb-ft)

Battery: 94.5-kWh

Range: 650 km CLTC

0-100 km/h: 3.9 seconds

Size: 5020*1999*1460

Wheelbase: 3020 mm

CDM Price (as tested): 54,000 USD

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