The NIO ES7 (EL7) Is A Major Upgrade
Issuing time:2022-12-16 20:00Author:Ethan Robertson
What is it?
Despite the fact that it hasn’t sold very many cars outside of China, NIO is one of the biggest names in the global EV game. The ES7, known as the EL7 in Europe, is their latest premium SUV. The positioning of the ES7 is a bit confusing. Many call it a replacement for the aging ES6, but it is both larger and considerably more expensive, at least in its base trim. It’s also smaller and cheaper than the NIO ES8, and only comes with 5 seats. Perhaps there will be a restructuring that sees the debut of a smaller ES6 replacement, or maybe that space will be filled by more affordable versions of the ES7.
Evolution not revolution
The ES7 is the definition of an evolution rather than revolution when it comes to styling. It looks nearly identical to the previous generation of NIO SUVs, particularly the front end and profile. The only obvious styling change can be found on the on the rear, where NIO’s Spark Beat taillights have been replaced with a single LED. It’s very similar to that of the ET7 sedan, but with a little extra kink on each end. However subtle the changes, they do result in a drag coefficient of 0.263, less than the 0.28 of the ES6.
While the ES7 uses NIO’s NT 2.0 electrical and electronic architecture, there’s one easy way to tell that it’s still built on the same platform as the last gen NIO SUVs; the location of the charge port on the front fender. Drivers in China generally prefer to back into parking spaces, so this placement can make charging less convenient.
NIO seems intent on pursuing the outdoorsy set, as the ES7 introduced an optional electrically deployable tow bar as a 1,050 USD option. ES7s equipped with this tow bar can pull up to 2000 kg or about 4,400 lbs. Towing is going to drop your range quite a bit, but camping with an EV can make sense, as once you get to your camp site, vehicle to load capability means you essentially have a giant battery pack that can power all sorts of equipment.
Tech, luxury, space
The interior of the ES7 is pretty much a copy and paste of the ET7 sedan, which means it has the same 10.2-inch instrument cluster, 12.8-inch OLED center screen, and heated, cooled and massaging front row seats. You also get one of the best sound systems available in a Chinese car, featuring 23-speaker and Dolby Atmos surround sound.
Not so standard is the delightfully soft and comfy Nappa leather interior trim, which costs an extra 3,000 USD. you’ll also need to throw in another 600 bucks so you can have NOMI on your dashboard. The little robot head is worth every penny if you have kids, as they find her highly entertaining.
Like the ET7, the ES7 makes use of karuun, an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic made from rattan. I made it pretty clear in my review of the ET7 that I found this material to feel a bit cheap, but I must acknowledge that it looks so much better in black than it did in the off-white of our ET7 test car. More importantly, the ES7 uses less of it, making more use of leather instead.
As mentioned above, the ES7 is 6.2cm longer than the ES6, and 6cm of that can be found in the wheelbase. Considering the fact that rear cargo space is a bit smaller can the ES6 (570 liters vs 584 liters), I think it’s safe to assume that space went to the passenger compartment. It still doesn’t offer the legroom of the ET7, and it lacks the sedan’s cooled and massaging seats (the ES7 only has heated rear seats). However, the simple fact that it has reclining seats, and a higher seating position, makes it a more comfortable place to spend time than the ET7.
ET7 on stilts
Powering the ES7 is a pair of electric motors making 480 kW and 850 Nm of torque (644 horsepower/ 627 pound-feet). That can be paired with a 75-kWh battery for a CLTC range of 485 km (301 miles), or you can go for the 100-kWh pack and get 620 km (385 miles).
Here in China, a NIO ES7 with a 75-kWh battery pack is priced at about 64,000 USD, while the 100-kWh version starts around 72,000. Want to save money up front? Customers who lease their battery pack will pay 54,000 USD for their ES7, with a monthly battery rental fee of about 140 USD for the 75-kWh battery and 235 USD for the 100-kWh battery. You can purchase an ES7 (nee EL7) with a rented 75-kWh battery pack in Germany starting at 73,900 Euros.
The ES7 is one of the promised platforms for NIO’s 150 kWh solid-state battery pack, which they claim will off a CLTC range of 930 km in the ES7. The first of these batteries rolled off the production line in November, but while the company had planned to start delivering 150 kWh-equipped vehicles in the fourth quarter, it has already admitted that there will be a delay of several months.
Despite the fact that the ES7 drives on essentially the same platform used by the ES6 and ES8, the liberal use of components from the ET7, including the entire powertrain, means that it drives more like a lifted version of that sedan. 100 km/h arrives in a claimed 3.9 seconds, and it feels very nearly as fast as the ET7.
That’s not to say that the two are identical. The ES7 has slightly heavier steering, and the effect that its different driving modes have on ride quality is a bit toned down. Whereas the ride of the ET7 gets very soft in Comfort mode and quite hard in Sport Plus mode, the ES7 remains soft and compliant in all of its settings. The whole driving experience is a comprehensive upgrade from the ES8 and ES6, which tended to be too soft for their own good. In contrast, the air suspension of the ES7 provide both a pillowy ride and better body control.
The ES7 has NIO’s Watchtower sensor pack mounted above the windshield, which includes a lidar unit that plays an important role in their suite of driver assistance systems, including highway navigation on auto pilot. We found that NIO Pilot could easily handle most highway situations, including changing from one highway to another. However, it was less skilled at coping with Shanghai’s expressways, particularly in heavy traffic.
Despite its slightly confusing positioning within the NIO family, the ES7 is certainly an upgrade over the previous generation of NIO SUVs. Not just in terms of interior styling and material quality, but also in terms of driving experience.
NIO ES7 100 kWh
Motor: Front + Rear-mounted
Power: 480 kW, 850 Nm
Battery: 100 kWh
Range: 620 km CLTC
0-100 km/h: 3.9 seconds
CDM Price: 64-72,000 USD
Article classification: Electric Vehicles