Interesting Chinese EV newcomer Aiways U5: we drove it
The coming year will see a small avalanche of new Chinese brands on European markets, a lot of them producing electric vehicles. Aiways is one of them, and with a little delay due to corona, the first product, a full-electric SUV called U5, has finally landed. We give you a first impression.
The U5 is the first model of Aiways, a very young Chinese brand that plans to build only electric vehicles. It’s a middle-sized SUV of 4,68 m in length, 1,87 m in width, and it’s 1,70 m high. The design is not spectacular but fluent and aerodynamic, accentuated by the flush door handles.
With a wheelbase of 2,80 m, the U5 also offers a lot of interior space, especially the legroom in the rear is impressive. With 432 liters of minimum luggage space, expandable to 1 555 liters when folding back the rear bench, the load volume is also okay.
The electromotor of the U5 is a classic one (synchronous with a permanent magnet) that delivers 150 kW/204 hp and a maximum torque of 310 Nm. The 63 kWh battery pack’s battery cells come from specialist CATL, but Aiways puts them in a patented sandwich structure for more safety and better cooling.
Charging can be done at a house socket, a wall box, or a supercharger (up to 90 kW per hour). With a 16,6-17,0 kWh energy consumption (WLTP), Aiways claims a range for its U5 of 370-380 km.
The Aiways U5 will come on the market in two versions, Standard and Premium, but the basic version is already well equipped. There are a lot of driving aid systems (ADAS) as standard. According to the European crash test organization EuroNCAP, the U5 gets three stars out of five because the reliability and the reactiveness of some systems still have to be improved.
Functional and comfortable
EV specialist Tesla has been an inspiration for the Aiways engineers and designers. The U5 gives a Tesla feeling of driving. The level of finish also corresponds to that of a Tesla (often criticized by European customers).
In front, we find excellent seats; the rear bench is somewhat hard to sit on. The suspension may be a little harsh, but the U5 nevertheless provides a comfortable ride and drive, not in the least because of its smooth powertrain. With 150 kW on the front wheels and a curb weight of about 1 750 kg, don’t expect sporty performance, but the U5 can be driven smoothly and swiftly in common traffic.
When you look at the dashboard, Tesla’s influence is also visible. The absence of switches is obvious, the center screen is not so big as in a Tesla, but it has the same logic of use. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both possible. Unfortunately, some submenus logic is not very clear. We were confronted with a permanent struggle with the air conditioning, which apparently only wanted to cool the car, not heat it.
As we drove the car for a few days in chilling circumstances and on all kinds of roads at different speeds, the average energy consumption predicted wasn’t possible. Our electricity use turned around 20 kWh/100 km in these wintery conditions, which leads to a realistic range of just over 300 km.
As we already said, the standard outfit is already fairly generous, and this roomy SUV can be had for less than €40 000 ( €39 950 to be precise), a fascinating price for what this car has on offer. If you want the premium version, you add €3 900. You have a leather interior, a panoramic sunroof, larger wheels, seat heating, a parking assistant, and a tailgate opening with your foot.
The U5 will be offered in Belgium by the multi-brand specialist Cardoen. He can be tested and contemplated at the different Cardoen showrooms but also ordered directly online. Cardoen even has a few ‘second-hand’ U5 models on offer, with a few thousand kilometers on the counter, for a bargain price of €32 000.
Aiways is not the first Chinese player on the market, and there will still be others to follow. With the technology, comfort, and roominess aboard, the U5 is an interesting car. Of course, the absence of a real, dedicated dealer network can be a handicap, but one of an electric car’s strengths is that it doesn’t need a lot of maintenance.