Yangwang U8


The U8 is not a cute kitten, looking more like a cross between a Land Rover Defender and the Kia EV9’s evil twin. What it is instead is a collection of all the gimmicks your heart could possibly desire.

Aside from being semi-amphibious (the U8 does it in emergencies only and needs to be checked over by a workshop after any swim), it can do tank turns, has active hydraulic suspension and its armrest cubby can be set to temperatures of between 60deg C and -5deg C.

The actual mechanical specification is quite impressive. It’s a ladder-chassis off-roader with a 295bhp electric motor for each wheel and approach, departure and breakover angles that are close to an Ineos Grenadier’s. It’s not an EV, but a range-extender plug-in hybrid, because with a shape like that, a weight like that (around 3500kg) and four motors drawing power, it would need an enormous battery to have any kind of usable range. Instead, it has a 49kWh battery (similar to what you might find in a BYD Dolphin), with a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine powering a generator. On the Chinese economy cycle, it has a 112-mile electric range and will do somewhere between 20 and 30mpg.

Inside, it’s a cut above normal BYDs. This is the best the company has to offer. So rather than the usual imitation leather, this has real nappa leather and wood veneers. Despite a dashboard design that’s very reminiscent of Bentleys’, it’s not up to that level – there’s a bit too much plastic for that and the wood is a bit Allegro Vanden Plas – but this is definitely a high-quality cabin. The chairs are broad, adjustable and comfortable, and there are acres of room.

And, of course, there are screens, many screens. None of them rotates, but the centre one is curved to conform to the dashboard’s shape. Given this was a Chinese-market car, it couldn’t access any of its streaming services, and the interface had been hastily translated to English. It’s clearly related to the interface in BYDs we’ve tried, but with a few upgrades. There’s now a permanent bar at the bottom with shortcuts and climate controls, and that makes all the difference to usability. It should make its way to existing BYDs over the air at some point.



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