The China SUV does a lot right, but in winter you have to limit yourself
What is the?
At least the more ambitious electric car fans among you will know what to expect when they see the car with the “five-cylinder” engine-Encounter logo. From the outside, the Aiways U5 has a bit of the charm of a DIY store special offer. But it is also possible that Germany’s biggest tabloid will present the new “people’s car” has proclaimed “only 29.99 a month if you have a Plus subscription”. Something like this.
But I’ll stop already, because the car and the company really don’t deserve this ridicule. Aiways has only been around since 2017. Since 2020 the U5 is available in Europe. That’s quite an achievement. Even if sales are still quite modest so far. 3.000 vehicles sold on the old continent in 2021 (just as many at home in China). Largely with the help of the electronics chain Euronics. Serviced at ATU by the way. This saves the company – in a completely new way – from having its own dealer network.
How this will continue in the future remains to be seen. For 2022, the manufacturer is aiming for significant growth, wants to sell five figures. The management has also been restructured. The new CEO comes from domestic competitor Nio. In addition, a second model is being introduced in the form of the U6, which is more or less a souped-up coupe version of the U5.
But back to our test candidate. At 4.68 meters, the U5 is roughly the size of the BMW iX3 or Mercedes EQC. Its E-motor, by the way a self-development, transfers maximally 204 HP and 310 Nm to the front wheels. The 63 kWh lithium-ion battery is provided by the largest Chinese manufacturer CATL. 0-100 km/h in 7.8 seconds at best, top speed is 160 km/h.
Officially Aiways gives the range of his first with just over 400 kilometers. In addition, it should be possible to charge it with up to 90 kW. In addition already now a small spoiler: On colder days (and they don’t have to be that cold), however, you can really forget about these values.
This does not necessarily make the U5 a pickle. There are quite a few premium candidates that also have to drop their pants in winter. Compared to them, the U5 has an immense advantage: It starts at 38 Euros before the environmental bonus.970 euros. With absolutely full hut – and it is then really quite full – the car is at 42.070 Euro.
How does it drive?
There are mainly positive things to report here. Please don’t think you’re back in the 1990s, when questionable Chinese creations made plastic-haze-intensive debuts at Frankfurt’s IAA, presumably just so they could do their brazen industrial espionage up close and personal. Masses of Chinese engineers with impressive measuring cases, artistically crouching under German premium products – you may recall.
But as I said, this is a different time and miles away from such conditions. As Mr. Hohmeyer explains it so well: “The U5 is really good at being a car. I fully agree. This isn’t some windily concocted trial balloon, but a fairly competently tuned crossover.
The steering has a very nice weighting and gives surprisingly much feedback. In addition, the car’s design makes it lie perfectly flat. The front-wheel drive doesn’t stand out negatively, if you’re worried in this direction. If you push the U5 a little more ambitiously into a curve, it leans quite fluffily on the outer front wheel, but it stays bravely on course and doesn’t smear away. And that even on winter tires.
The suspension comfort is decent, which also has an effect in the NVH area (Noise, Vibration, Harshness – i.e.: if it rumbles, if it makes noise, if it goes haywire)?) everything solidly built. Only during short strokes, especially when the wheels are turned in, a breeze of fighting price waft through the woodwork into the passenger compartment.
I would also like to mention that the Aiways with around 1.800 kilos is amazingly light for a battery-operated, cross-country hauler of its size. That doesn’t make it an adrenaline-fueled sports machine, but what handling it does have is relatively light on its feet.
The 150 kW of the electric motor is enough for a satisfactory performance. Also here: No goose bumps (why should it deliver them?)?), but absolutely sufficient forward momentum. Even if you should not expect miracles on the highway between 120 and the Vmax of 160 now. You probably don’t anyway if you’re considering this vehicle, so it’s all palletti.
recuperation? Can be set to three levels after a little detective work in the infotainment system, but the differences are not too pronounced. Generally, recuperation isn’t particularly aggressive, but braking performance and feel are in line.
How is it inside?
Here, too, we can quickly put an end to the cheap-man prejudices. The U5 interior is designed like a current chart hit (x-anything, you’ll forget it after 3 minutes), but it’s solidly put together and assembled. Including foamed surfaces, where they are not found on some German competitor products.
The equipment of the “Premium” that we tested-Variant does not leave too many wishes open. LED headlights, panoramic roof, rain and light sensors, automatic high beam, parking assist, surround cameras, heated seats, traffic sign recognition, emergency braking, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control are just a few of the features available.
It should be mentioned that keeping in lane is not really one of the Aiway’s strengths. It staggers quite a bit between the lines when you leave it in charge and it also surprises with very sudden and choppy steering interventions when you are just approaching a lane marking.
The infotainment system also deserves criticism. The fact that you don’t get a navigator for money or good words is relatively latte to us in this context. The manufacturer knows, as most customers do by now, that the smartphone is a better guide to the destination than any premium navigation system, no matter how great it is. Saves a lot of money. Connect to the USB port, mirror the cell phone in the display, done.
However, the operation of the central display has its pitfalls. The touching in the individual submenus is quite confusing and distracting. In addition, there are annoying little things. For example, that it takes ages until the picture of the constantly turning on all-round camera disappears again. Or that you have to turn the radio back on after every start. However, Aiways plans to fix these things soon as part of a model update.
Also with storage areas it looks rather mediocre. There is no glove compartment at all. In addition, the cupholders in the center console have been washed much too hot at some point. The cell phone disappears under the flap for the climate control.
What the U5 can do really well is space. My dear Mr. Singing Club, what can you stretch out in the back there. Compared to other SUVs of this size, this is nothing less than a demonstration. Sitting in the front is okay, but the seats could be a bit more strongly shaped. The trunk has a range of 432 to 1.555 liters standard size.
It’s just a shame that the exuberant space is worth much less than it could be, because the manufacturer has made an absolutely outrageous faux pas with the payload. 310 kilograms means that the U5 is actually already overloaded with five people on board. Without their baggage mind you. This should be improved as soon as possible.
What about range and charging??
Rather poor during our test period. Low temperatures have brought far more expensive electricians to their knees, no question about it. But the U5 reacts quite sensitive to german winter weather. With temperatures between 0 and 6 degrees, it wasn’t even really cold yet.
We were miles away from the 410 kilometer range and 17 kWh average consumption respectively. The reality at such temperatures is rather in the range between 23 and 27 kWh. And then is just after clearly under 300 kilometers layer in the battery shaft.
A very similar picture emerged during charging. Hopeful, the author pulled up at the Ionity charging station and rammed the Hypercharger hose into the front bumper. Instead of the promised 90 kilowatts, however, not more than 53 went. Which reduced to a wanderingly thin 23 kilowatts in the course of the one-hour charging process. Most of the time it flowed with around 30 kilowatts. And if you want to fully charge, you should take generous charging losses into account. At least I had a good book with me.
That it looks more hopeful when the thermometer is in a better mood should also be obvious. In other tests you can read here about charging with 75 to 80 kW.
Here one could take up again a sentence from the beginning of this test. And that’s what I’ll do directly. The Aiways U5 is very good at being a car. A little less good at being an electric car. At least when it is colder.
What else is going on at Aiways
Driving characteristics, interior and general quality are a real surprise. Respect Aiways, all in all it works really well. Range and charging performance leave a lot to be desired. In wintry conditions at least.
If you can live with it, you get a more than decent vehicle with top equipment at a record-breaking price. You can already do that.