"Zhi Test Drive": Book a FREE Test Drive of the Lantu Model.

Author: Tao Yanyan

During the Spring Festival holiday, let’s write about something easy-going (and trivial), and discuss recent test drives. Recently, I wanted to try out a new section on “Zhi Test Drive”, which is a pure sharing of test drive experience, occasionally with technical commentary. If you ask about the significance of starting a new section, it’s mainly for fun…

Today we’ll be talking about the LanTu FREE Extended Range Version we test drove a while ago.

Who made this car

Many friends may not be familiar with LanTu (Or the name “Orion Star”) auto, which is an independent operating brand officially released by Dongfeng Group in July 2020, with the goal of developing high-end new energy passenger car products. (Which means the price won’t be very cheap.) FREE is the first product of the LanTu brand, positioned as a large 5-seater SUV, with a length of 5 meters and a wheelbase of nearly 3 meters. LanTu FREE is mainly built around the extended range technology, but there is also a pure electric version available. Judging from the situation of being on the market for almost a year and a half, this car is a niche product (with recent monthly sales not exceeding 1,000).

Why test drive this car + experience highlights

We have always expected that extended-range cars will be a popular model in 2023. But we haven’t driven one yet, we have one plug-in and two all-electric cars at home. Our expectation for the extended-range electric car is mainly for its versatility and comprehensive range.

◎ Start

This car retains the traditional high-voltage power-on switch. Pressing the switch only turns on the screen. You need to step on the brake and press the switch to start. The gear selection is also designed to prevent misoperation in a traditional way, and you need to press the side button to select gear effectively. When we first got the car, we really didn’t know how to use it. Because many electric cars now have high-voltage power that won’t discharge, and you can start driving right away, this traditional design threw me off.

◎ Driving experience

The electric driving characteristics of this car are good. Apart from the fact that the pure electric range is only 100+ km, it feels like driving an electric car. The FREE Extended Range version uses a 1.5T+ four-cylinder engine, and although the battery has 33kWh, the pure electric version has a range of only 140 kilometers when fully charged. But for this distance, the car needs to be charged frequently, and we charge it up when we return home.“`
When the cruising range reaches around 25 kilometers, the engine starts and maintains the cruising range at its lowest point. As someone who is used to driving pure electric cars, I am not accustomed to the roar and vibration of the engine.



◎ Three-Screen Display

The triple screen design of the instrument panel, central control, and co-pilot is independently operated. When the driver is concentrating on navigation, the co-pilot can select songs, control the air conditioning, and pay attention to the destination information on the screen in front of their own position.


— I don’t know why, but when I’m in the passenger seat of my own car and I want to select songs, it’s always when the driver needs to look at the map on the central control screen. I don’t know why he doesn’t look at the map on the instrument panel, so if there was also a screen on the passenger side of my car, it should reduce a lot of arguments.

I don’t know if it’s to increase the screen’s interactivity, but after pressing the start button, the screen automatically lifts up. However, this method of using an electrically driven lift screen is actually somewhat useless and needlessly increases
the potential for failure.

**◎ In-car cameras**

One interesting application on the car system is the ability to take photos or videos with the front and interior cameras - with three shooting angles: the road, the front seat, and the rear seat. It's really like treating the car system as a smartphone. But what can we mainly use this application for?


**◎ Panoramic sunroof**

The panoramic sunroof of this car can be dimmed. Many people think the sunroof is too sunny, and using a sunshade is too low-class. A dimmable sunroof can give the car a high-end feel.

![Rear view after the panoramic sunroof is dimmed](https://42how-com.oss-cn-beijing.aliyuncs.com/article/image_20230122225626.png)

### Final comments

The battery pack of this car is still a bit small. 140 kilometers may seem like a lot, but when the engine is started, it will probably be about 90-100 kilometers at most. When future improvements are made, the battery can be made larger to increase the driving range. Also, this car did not come with the "standard" HUD that new cars have now, and that is a bit of a drawback. We look forward to future updates.

Also, since we started test driving the car, friends have often asked which car is better. Actually, cars, like people, have personalities. They have to find the right owner to show how "good" they are.

For example, when we got in the Landtour FREE, we wondered which group of people this car is suitable for. With a price tag of over 300,000, it's not cheap, but it has decent control over smart equipment and software - but it's also quite average. The appearance is not bad, but there are really a lot of good-looking SUVs out there. The whole backseat is comfortable, and the trunk is also very large, so I personally think that plug-in hybrid cars are suitable for the current Spring Festival travel back home scene, as well as for people who occasionally take medium and long-distance trips and bring a lot of equipment - such as friends who like to play photography.

Finally, I wish everyone a happy Spring Festival~ Have a safe journey home and a happy reunion.

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This article is a translation by ChatGPT of a Chinese report from 42HOW. If you have any questions about it, please email bd@42how.com.