It has tech to spare, but is the EL6 any good in the competitive electric family SUV class?

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We should start here by pointing out that you can’t buy the Nio EL6 in the UK. Not yet, anyway.

However, this Chinese electric car brand has already started selling cars in Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Norway, and a UK offensive is likely in 2025, with the 4.85-metre-long Nio EL6 SUV set to be one of the launch models.

Read on to learn more about this tech-laden family electric car.



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This is in fact the second-generation EL6; the original one never made it out of China.

Styling wise, it’s hard not to draw comparisons between the new EL6 and the super-smooth, computer-mouse styling that Tesla has made its own, although there’s more than a hint of Hyundai at the front, too.

Sleek and inoffensive yet generic just about sums it up, although that camera housing above the windscreen is distinctive, if perhaps not in a flattering way. Taxi, anyone? 

Underneath, it gets more interesting. The EL6 is based on the company’s new NT2.0 (short for Nio Technology 2.0, in case you were wondering) platform, complete with two battery options: a 75kWh or a 100kWh pack, which are good for a range of 252 or 329 miles respectively.

Charging is capped at 140kW for the smaller-battery car, 180kW for the bigger-battery model that we drove, which is a way off Tesla, Hyundai and Kia but still roughly on par with many alternative EVs.  

However, Nio also has its patented battery-swap tech, which allows the EL6’s battery to be changed out for a fresh, fully charged pack in around five minutes at one of Nio’s roadside battery-swap stations. There are 120 of these planned for installation across mainland Europe, and the company intends to have several in the UK ahead of its launch – although we can’t help but feel that the UK’s notoriously awkward road infrastructure and planning laws might prove something of a challenge. Good luck to them, though.

The company has just reached the milestone of 30 million battery swaps since it launched the system in 2017, so these stations are clearly working well in China.

The EL6 gets a 201bhp induction motor up front and a 282bhp permanent magnet electric motor at the back for permanent four-wheel drive and a combined output of 483bhp.

There’s also standard Intelligent Chassis adaptive damping, which can make 500 adjustments per second, and no fewer than nine driving modes.

Notably, this latest platform also brings 33 ‘sensing units’, one long-range lidar and four Nvidia Drive Orin X chips for computing power of 1016 trillion operations per second. Yes, trillion.

If you were in any doubt that we were deep into ‘tech before automotive’ territory with EVs, you aren’t any more. 


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You won’t be in any doubt when you slide into the sparse but solid-feeling cabin, either, as you immediately come face to face with Nio's little robot assistant, Nomi, which swivels daintily on the dashtop to look at you when you get in or talk to it. Occasionally, it gets bored and randomly eats a digital apple or winks at you. Cute or disconcerting? You choose. 

Certainly there’s loads of adjustment to the comfy driver’s seat, but the steering wheel would benefit from a slimmer rim and greater vertical range of adjustment.

The EL6 has an optional ‘lounge seat’ for the front passenger that brings 22-way adjustment, a footrest and the ability to recline almost horizontally

It will take some time to get used to the near-total absence of buttons in the EL6, too: everything is on the touchscreen.

A raised central spine houses a storage cubby and bisects the driver and passenger to give defined spaces for those in the front of the EL6, with that same spine forming a runway to the huge OLED touchscreen display.

It’s a very simple dashboard design, but the textured materials and general solidity are good and the digital driver’s readout and standard head-up display are welcome bonuses over Tesla.

The huge central touchscreen is your window to everything on the car, and it responds fairly quickly and has fixed climate control and shortcut buttons. There’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto for now, but Nio says it will add them if there’s the demand.

There’s masses of room for two tall adults in the back, and the wide centre seat and flat floor mean a third could squeeze in with relative ease.

We would like a bit more support to the fairly flat seat base, but otherwise the back of the EL6 – complete with climate control and plentiful light from the standard large sunroof – is a really comfy place to be. 

The boot is a very useful 668 litres, but that’s only if you factor in all of the underfloor space – and there are two layers to it. Still, the boot is a good width, that hidden storage space is great for charging cables and the rear seats fold in a 40/20/20 split to leave a smooth if sloped load bed.

The main boot space is a touch shallow compared with that of, say, the Audi Q8 E-tron, but the Nio EL6 is still more than practical enough for family life.

There’s no word on a seven-seat option for the EL6, though.


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It’s also perfectly fit for purpose when it comes to the way it drives. There’s masses of power to boost you around and there’s the usual range of Eco, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ driving modes, which vary the throttle response, dampers and steering weight.

You can also choose what 0-62mph time you want, from 4.5sec, 5.9sec, 7.9sec, 9.9sec or 12.9sec. That's a pretty remarkable feature when you think about it, more like gaming levels than traditional vehicle driving modes, and an intriguing way of deciding what sort of a car you would like your EL6 to be at any given moment. 

They’re not all set up perfectly, though: throttle response is too sharp in 4.5sec mode. But the EL6 is easy to drive smoothly in the more moderate modes.

The adaptive regenerative braking can be toggled through Very Low, Low and Standard modes and isn’t too intrusive, while the brake pedal gives a reasonable level of feedback so that you can modulate it easily as it shuffles between friction and recuperation.

The EL6 can tow up to 1200kg, which could be useful if you have a lightweight trailer or caravan, and there are specific off-road and towing modes, but the Tesla Model Y and Audi Q8 E-tron will tow 1600kg and 1800kg respectively.


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There’s no getting away from the fact that the EL6 feels quite heavy. You can feel it in the way it pushes wide if you go into a corner too keenly, even though the four-wheel drive system helps to make things feel rather unflappable and easy to correct.

Even with everything in boss-level mode, it doesn’t motivate you to drive enthusiastically. There just isn’t the tactility and feedback to the steering and pedals to deliver much driver engagement.

That said, the neutral, rather unflappable way that the EL6 goes down the road will be more than satisfying enough for most. 

Ride comfort isn't bad at all. Our test car rode on the standard 20in wheels, and its adaptive suspension ironed out the worst of the road's surface, with patter around town noticeable but not overly intrusive and a smoother bump-response at higher speeds.  

We didn’t get a huge amount of time to trial the adaptive driving systems, but the lane-keeping assistance didn’t seem overly intrusive, and during what brief time we had with the semi-autonomous adaptive cruise control, the car slowed smoothly and responded in a reasonably natural way, even if it didn’t always feel centred correctly in the lane. 


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UK prices would likely run from around £60,000 for the 75kWh car and £68,000 for the 100kWh. That's hardly cheap, but given that the EL6 is very highly equipped as standard, it would still represent reasonable value next to many key rivals.

However, there’s a lot of uncertainty over pricing, as Nio would likely lease the majority of its cars and buyers who wanted to own the car in a conventional fashion wouldn’t be able to use the battery-swap stations, as they would own the battery too. 

Overall, Nio’s tech is undeniably impressive and will gain fans when it comes to the UK. It’s no driver’s delight - the EL6 really does just feel like ‘an car’ to drive. It’s almost impressive in its featurelessness, like how you would imagine one of those faceless, non-brand-specific TV-advert cars would drive.

That’s not necessarily unpleasant, but there are more enjoyable electric family cars out there.  


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The Nio EL6 is brimming with tech and equipment, offers competitive driving range and is more than practical enough.

Yet it's peculiarly characterless to drive, despite a surfeit of tech and mode trickery. It’s very fit for purpose, but others are more fun to drive and can charge more quickly.