A Cooler Pure Electric A-Class Car?
Author: Xiao Dong
A “bucket” pure electric small car has been absent from the Chinese market for a long time. From my childhood favorite Audi TT to the more realistic Golf, my love for small cars has never diminished. With the advent of the pure electric era, however, the heavy battery pack has prevented the possibility of turning pure electric vehicles into small cars.
Starting in 2021, the launch of Volkswagen ID.3 in China surprised me, but the obvious shortcomings of ID.3’s infotainment system made me give up on it. The same thing happened to small cars such as MG MULAN and Geometry E, whose product strength is obviously insufficient to meet my needs due to cost constraints.
Until the smart EQ fortwo was available for pre-order, I did not hesitate to place an order for the smart car based on the Geely SEA architecture. Before I received my car, I had only a few minutes of test drive time to spend with the smart car. However, the reason for my purchase was simple: there was no relatively balanced pure electric small car on the market.
On February 3, Zeekr X, the third car under the Zeekr brand, was officially unveiled. Another “bucket” small car based on the SEA architecture was born. I believe this car still attracts users who, like myself, love small cars.
The Coolest Pure Electric A-Class Car?
Compared to the smart EQ fortwo’s rounded appearance, Zeekr X’s appearance is more “sleek”.
With an overall vehicle size of 4450 x 1836 x 1572 mm, Zeekr X looks more spacious. Especially, the vehicle height of 1572 mm does not make Zeekr X bulky. The wheelbase is the same as smart EQ, at 2750 mm. If we talk about the performance of the rear space, it is certainly not as comfortable as a 3-meter wheelbase model. However, the agility brought by the short wheelbase is, in my opinion, far more important than the priority of the rear space performance.
The JIKI X, designed by Stefan Sielaff’s team, takes minimalism to the extreme. Stefan Sielaff is currently the Global Design Vice President of Geely Group, previously served as Chief Designer at Audi, and later as Design Director at Bentley. However, when he was at Audi and Chrysler, Stefan Sielaff was mainly responsible for interior design. So what will the interior of JIKI X look like under the leadership of Stefan Sielaff’s team? Looking forward to it.
Speaking of the exterior, the design of the running lights combines elements from JIKI 001 and 009 to create a unique feeling. The headlights and air intakes are designed to be hidden and integrated with the front end as much as possible. The sides and rear of JIKI X are depicted by simple lines to create a unique identity. The last time I had this feeling was the Polestar 3, especially the tail design of the Polestar 3.
JIKI X has many small design details, such as frameless doors, frameless mirrors, and hidden charging ports. Even the door handles are removed, with the opening buttons placed on the B and C pillars, making the entire side of the car exceptionally clean. The design of the door without handles indicates that JIKI X’s doors may be electrically opened. At the same time, on the small body of JIKI X, it supports a maximum of 20-inch large wheels, once again improving the appearance.
Before officially unveiling the appearance of JIKI X, the disguised car had already been released in Europe, which means that JIKI’s globalization will begin to officially launch this year. JIKI X’s performance in Europe should be good as this small car is well-suited to European users. With Lynk & Co. as the pioneering brand, the way for JIKI to go global has become much smoother. Another thing that must be mentioned is that the SEA architecture used by JIKI was developed initially for global models. Therefore, in terms of body structure and collision standards, JIKI has made early preparation. Therefore, whether it is 001, 009 or JIKI X, going global to Europe is not a difficult task.## Some guesses about Zeekr X
▎From the officially released information about the 3-second acceleration performance, we can guess that the four-wheel-drive version of Zeekr X may use the same powertrain as the smart Fortwo Cabrio BRABUS version, with a combination of electric motors of 115 kW at the front and 200 kW at the rear, and a total peak power of up to 315 kW, which should be able to achieve a 3-second acceleration of 0-100 km/h. The two-wheel-drive version will have a single 200 kW electric motor mounted on the rear axle, which may accelerate to 100 km/h in less than 6 seconds.
As for the range, due to the same wheelbase and platform as the smart Fortwo Cabrio BRABUS version, there is a high probability that Zeekr X will use a 66 kWh battery pack, the same as the smart, but with better aerodynamic performance, which will optimize the range to a certain extent. However, since the top-of-the-line version of the smart still uses low-drag 19-inch wheels, if Zeekr X uses 20-inch sport wheels, the range could be maintained at the same level, around 550 km (CLTC cycle).
As for the infotainment system, with “big brother” 001 leading the way, Zeekr’s system has already surpassed average level in terms of fluency, UI, and interaction. Moreover, even without seeing the interior, we believe that Zeekr X’s interior layout should adopt the same design style as 001 and 009, and will not be equipped with a co-pilot screen.
In terms of intelligent driving, it is clear from the exterior image that no LIDAR is used. Based on the current engineering progress of intelligent driving in China, Zeekr X is not expected to have urban navigation assisted driving. As for highway navigation assisted driving, we believe that it should not be a problem for Zeekr X, as a model launched in 2023. Due to cost constraints, the perception hardware of Zeekr X is not expected to be exactly the same as that of 001.“`
Next, in terms of chassis, as is the habit of Zeekr X current model, it is expected to be superior to the Smart Elf 1, since controlling was also a key selling point of 001, of which performance of the chassis is crucial. Today, the automotive blogger Wu Pei as sources claimed on Weibo that the suspension of the Zeekr X will be upgraded with hydraulic lining, and it is believed that there will be a significant improvement in comfort. Previously, in an interview with the product manager of 001, it was also mentioned that 001 finally chose the best hydraulic lining from multiple options, indicating that Zeekr still has high demand on chassis mateials. On the contrary, Smart Elf 1 uses rubber lining, and its performance on rough roads is somewhat weak.
The suspension still uses a McPherson strut at the front and a five-link at the rear. For a small car like this, double wishbones are too challenging for the front cabin space, and the advantage of the McPherson strut is its flexibility. However, this also greatly tests the caliber of the chassis adjustment. The final performance remains to be seen until the test drive takes place.
The chance of Zeekr X’s appearance at the Shanghai Auto Show is basically 99.99%, and it is a definite thing to start delivery this year. Zeekr also revealed that the price will not be less than 200,000 yuan (approx. $30,600), and I believe that Zeekr X will be slightly higher than the price of the Smart Elf 1~
If several years ago, Zeekr X, as a compact SUV, with its positioning and price, it would not have been easy to become a best-selling model in the domestic market.
On the one hand, it is a small car, and the tolerance of the domestic market for small cars is really too low. Do you still remember that in the millennium, when the quality of a car was judged, it depended on whether you could sit with your legs crossed in the back seat? Therefore, long-wheelbase models with Chinese characteristics emerged. Any vehicle model of BBA could not avoid the term “extended axis.” In the impression of most people, “small” equals “broken.”
On the other hand, it is Zeekr X’s price. It is natural that it costs a lot to build a boutique car. It seems like “boutique” and “small car” seem to be inherently paradoxical. Buying a small car for more than 200,000 yuan (approx. $30,600) may be unimaginable for many consumers. “Why would I buy a four-meter small car when I can buy a five-meter B-class car?” I believe that most people feel the same way. Small cars don’t seem to have much to do with performance-cost ratio, which is quite different from the impression of performance-cost ratio established by 001. Moreover, if performance-cost ratio is to be discussed, then perhaps the protagonist is Zeekr PLUS.
But, today, the domestic automobile market is changing, and more and more consumers are pursuing personalization. As for myself, I can’t accept that the car I bought is the same as the one for ride-hailing, even from the same brand. With new car models emerging like mushrooms, our automobile industry is experiencing the biggest transformation in the history, and consumers’ pursuit of cars is quietly changing.
From my personal perspective, the X model of Zeekr is very consistent with my needs for a car, which is good-looking, easy-to-drive, with sufficient performance, and smart and unique according to the situation.
If smart hadn’t been released first, the Zeekr X would definitely be at the top of my shopping list.
This article is a translation by ChatGPT of a Chinese report from 42HOW. If you have any questions about it, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.