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The Xpeng X9 Isn't A Van, It's A Spaceship

Issuing time:2024-01-01 21:36Author:Ethan Robertson

What is it?

I don’t know about where you come from, but in the United States, MPVs are for plumbers and mothers. But what if you could have an MPV that was cool? It might just look like this, the all-electric XPeng X9. As of recording, our video review, XPeng had yet to release official pricing for the X9. However, we now know that it will cost 51,000-59,000 USD.

Xpeng X9.jpg

Coupe MPVs cometh?

Is it possible to make a coupe MPV in the same way they have coupe SUVs? My heart says, no, but my eyes tell me the answer is, maybe. From the 21-degree rake of the A-pillar to the 23-degrees of the D-pillar, the X9 looks like no other MPV on earth. This is the part where I tell you that this rakish design isn’t just for looks. XPeng was able to achieve a drag coefficient of just 0.227.


That means this 5.3m long, nearly 2m wide MPV has a better drag coefficient than a Tesla Model Y. That’s not as low as the 0.215 of the Li Auto MEGA, but the X9 also doesn’t look quite as polarizing as the MEGA either. Don’t worry, we’ll be reviewing that bullet-headed MPV early next year.

If XPeng was aiming to create an MPV that didn’t look like any other MPV, then I’d say they succeeded. It does, however, look like an XPeng. More specifically, it adopts the much edgier design language of the XPeng P5. I’d like to take this moment to congratulate the P5 for no longer the black sheep of the XPeng design family. New elements to the design include the honeycomb grill and the brand’s first light-up rear logo.


Better than my couch at home

The second row of premium MPVs here in China have a standard set of features that they all seem to share, i.e., cooled, heated and massaging seats with leg rests and recline, soft leather, etc., All of those are available on the X9, and they are controlled by a nice set of physical buttons mounted on seat and armrest. The X9 is also one of the few vehicles in this class to offer a refrigerated and heated storage area in the second row with an electrically opening and closing door.

What interests me more, however, are the features that are unique to the X9. For starters, there’s the gigantic 21.4-inch roof mounted rear entertainment screen. The way the screen unfolds not only looks very high tech; it also allows it to have adjustable angle. This is accomplished via the via the touch screen itself, or using a button on the side of the remote. That adjustability comes in even more handy when combined with the optional zero gravity second row seats. Add it all together, and you have a viewing experience that makes watching a movie on my couch feel like torture in comparison.


That same remote operates the screen using a combination of buttons and a track pad like you’d find on your laptop. It’s a nice solution that’s much easier to learn and more precise than the gesture controls used in some other vehicles. Just be careful not to lose it, or you’ll have to resort to touch controls only.

The X9 also features something called X Free Breath, which it describes as the world’s first wraparound air conditioning system. It is made up of over 6,000 tiny holes that run parallel to the 3.6m LED strip embedded in the headliner, though only about 2000 of those holes are actually functional. The sensation is something akin to being on an airplane, because the AC is coming from above you, and while it’s looks undeniably cool, there’s no way to close manually close the air conditioning vents. Instead, you have to use the small screen embedded in the rear of the center console, the main screen in the driver’s compartment, or voice commands.


The X9 has a wheelbase of nearly 3.2m, so there’s plenty of space even in the third row. Much to my surprise the steeply raked rear roof doesn’t cut into rear headroom in any meaningful way, but it does cut into rear cargo space. Thankfully, XPeng has a solution for that, namely, the X9 has a deep rear cargo area, so you can still fit an impressive 755 liters of cargo with the seats up. You can also stow the third-row seats into that cavity at the touch of button, and you’ll need to do so if you want to enjoy the maximum storage capacity of 2554L.


Entering the first row, it struck me that the interior and exterior designers of this car didn’t really talk much. The exterior is all straight lines and spaceship vibes, whereas the interior has nary a straight line in sight. The cabin still has its own high-tech vibe, in the form of a 17-inch center screen with XPeng’s excellent UI and voice command system, and a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster. Those are powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8295 chipset.

The X9 also has XOpera, the brand’s 2180w surround sound system with 23 speakers. Sound quality is top notch, and the bass is teeth rattling. But the cherry on top is a new steering wheel design with this offset XPeng logo. I love it. It adds a little funkiness to an interior, while very nice, is feels like I’ve seen it all before.


Best-driving MPV, period

The X9 can be equipped with the latest version of XNGP, XPeng’s driver assistance system that features a total of 29 sensors, including two lidar units. With 508 TOPS computing power from twin Orin-X chips, XNGP is capable of navigation on autopilot in both city and highway environments. Stay tuned, as we will be releasing a more in-depth look at XNGP in the near future.

Underneath the spaceship body of the XPeng is some, well, not spaceship-level tech, but definitely premium tech. Up front is a double wishbone suspension, while the rear is H-arm multilink. The X9 also has constant damping control and dual-chamber air suspension with adjustable height and stiffness. Using one of its many cameras, the X9 will scan the road ahead and adjust that suspension in response to speed bumps, potholes and other road conditions.

What’s more, the X9 has rear steer, giving it a turning radius smaller than a Honda Civic despite the fact that it’s longer than a Chevy Tahoe. That is extremely noticeable and useful in tight parking lots. Even more noticeable, but perhaps less useful than the rear steer is the power, at least on the dual motor AWD performance version that makes 370 kW and 640 Nm of torque, allowing the X9 to reach 100 km/h in 5.7 seconds and a top speed of 200 km/h.

Who needs an MPV with 370 kW? Exactly zero people. But that’s the wrong question. Instead, you should be asking, who wants an MPV with 370 kW? I reckon that number is a lot more than zero. Still, for those who are slightly less power mad, there is also a single motor front wheel drive version which makes a more modest 235 kW (315 hp).


Underneath the big MPV body of the X9 is your choice of two battery packs: a 101.5-kWh ternary lithium pack, or an 88.5-kWh LFP pack. Single motor models have a claimed CLTC range of 610 km with the smaller pack, and 702 km with the larger pack. The dual motor model we drove in Guangzhou was only available with the larger pack, which provides a claimed range of 640 km. The X9 also comes standard with an 800v silicon carbide charging architecture, which XPeng claims can add 300 km of range in just 10 minutes, and go from 30% to 80% state of charge in just 16 minutes.

All of this suspension technology, all of this power, what does it add up to? According to XPeng, it should add up to an MPV or large seven-seater that handles as well as a large SUV. Thing is, I would take it a step farther by saying that this thing out-handles at least some large SUVs that I've driven. The X9 changes direction with a willingness that I certainly didn't expect from such a big vehicle.

As air suspension proliferates across the entire industry, the difference between those that can tune an air suspension and those that cannot is becoming readily apparent. XPeng lands firmly in the former category, with a ride that keep occupants isolated from harsh road conditions, while not falling prey to the seasickness-inducing wallow of some large MPVs.


China's electric MPV segment is an increasingly crowded one, so if a manufacturer is going to have a go at it, they need to bring their A-game. Thankfully, that's exactly what XPeng has done with the X9. While its exterior styling might be polarizing, you can't deny the fact that it has the type of family friendly, high-tech interior that consumers are looking for. Add to that the best driving experience of any MPV that we've ever reviewed, and you have an electric MPV that might be capable of succeeding in more markets than just China.


XPeng X9 Performance 640 Max
Motor: Front + Rear-mounted
Power: 370 kW, 640 Nm (500 hp/473.6 lb-ft)
Battery: 101.5-kWh
Range: 640 km CLTC
0-100 km/h: 5.7 seconds
Size: 5293*1988*1785
Wheelbase: 3160 mm
CDM Price (as tested): 59,000 USD

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