In December 2022, just months after launching its first model in July 2021, Changan Blue (Changan Shenlan) reached a milestone: the delivery of its first model, the Blue SL03, surpassed 10,000 units, with 11,650 units delivered, representing an increase of 42% from the previous month.
Benefiting from rich configurations, excellent cost performance, and mature design, SL03 became the automaker with the shortest delivery time to achieve more than 10,000 units sold in the fifth month since its launch, surpassing all new automakers including WmAuto, thereby becoming the most successful newcomer in the industry.
Capitalizing on this momentum, Changan Blue’s SUV product, the S7, began static display yesterday as the automaker’s second model. Like the SL03, the S7 will offer both pure electric and range-extending powertrains in the future.
Let’s analyze the bright spots and upgrades in the design and functionality of Changan Blue’s second product from the exterior and interior parts.
Exterior, Establishing a Family Design
Changan Blue’s S7 continues the family design of the SL03 in terms of exterior style, which looks familiar at first glance. A young, athletic, and aggressive front face has become the design theme of Changan Blue’s products. The S7, whether the pure electric or range-extending version, features a closed grille design. The fluorescent yellow in the picture below is for the pure electric version, while the gray is for the range-extending version.
The design of Changan Blue S7’s exterior is very sharp, so I personally believe that the gray paint of the range-extending version can effectively neutralize this somewhat “jumpy” visual feeling, making the visual effect more coordinated. However, after seeing the actual car, I found that the fluorescent yellow paint of the pure electric version is more harmonious than the declaration figure of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, and belongs to the eye-catching and personalized style.
Changan Blue’s S7, like the SL03, features a modular headlamp design with a sharp LED daytime running light group on top, making it highly recognizable.
The hidden pixel light module, which can project multiple patterns, provides dynamic host-guest and human-vehicle interaction effects, in addition to the headlight set, is the mystery behind the bottom lamp set of S7.
Designed with an outstanding broken line, black/gray mixed surround on both sides and a front lip with a similar matte texture, the front face of Changan Shenlan S7 closely adheres to the theme of “young and athletic.”
Thanks to the rapidly narrowing window lines, the changing sidelight surface, the black decorative panel with different colors on the body, and the slender taillights extending to the side of the car, the side of Deep Blue S7 looks very slim without a bloated or mediocre feeling. The pure electric version in yellow and the extended-range version in gray are almost identical in exterior design, and the gray paint makes S7 look more low-key and restrained, with completely different visual experiences brought by the two colors.
A light strip is added to the C-pillar on the side of the car of Changan Shenlan S7, which is expected to provide some interactive functions, such as locking/unlocking prompts and breathing effects during charging. This function cannot be experienced on static display vehicles at this exhibition.
Another reason for the change in temperament between the two exhibited versions is the hub. The pure electric version of S7 exhibited this time is equipped with 255/40 R21 wheels with very exaggerated shapes and sizes, and the brake discs are also designed in bright yellow, which is very athletic. The tire brand is the PCC series of Michelin, which is known for its quietness and low rolling resistance.
“`The extended-range version of Changan Shenlan S7 is equipped with low-resistance wheel hubs measuring 255/45 R20 and branded by Dunlop. This combination makes the vehicle look more restrained and also helps to improve its range and energy consumption.
Regarding the hardware for assisted driving, we can refer to Changan Shenlan SL03. In February, Shenlan announced that the price of the high-end intelligent driving assistance hardware system for choosing installation in SL03 was 30,000 yuan, and the differences in hardware are as follows:
- upgraded from 6 cameras to 11;
- upgraded from 6 ultrasonic radars to 12;
- upgraded from 3 millimeter-wave radars to 5.
In terms of functions, the high-end version of the assisted driving hardware can support “APA7.0 Remote Valet Parking,” including in-car parking, remote parking, remote access, reverse tracing, remote moving, and memory parking, etc. It also supports NID 3.0 Navigation Intelligent Assistance, and high-speed NOA.
From past test drive experiences, the SL03 with basic hardware performs well in lane keeping and longitudinal control during following, belonging to the “usable” level, but the visualized information is slightly insufficient. It can be expected that S7 will also provide “basic” and “high-end” versions of assisted driving hardware for consumers to choose from in the future. If there is an opportunity, we will also bring you the assessment of S7/SL03’s high-speed NOA and other assisted driving.
Coming to the rear of the car, the exhaust layout of the extended-range version is hidden, so there is almost no difference in design between the pure electric and the extended-range. The perforated style taillights named “Star Flame” by the official website of Changan Shenlan are also a similar design to SL03, with a high degree of family recognition.
Looking from top to bottom, the Changan UNI-K S7 also comes with independent spoilers on both sides of the rear, with the high-mounted brake light placed in the center. Due to the downward design of the rear end and the high position of the taillights, the S7’s rear window area is not large. Looking from the central rearview mirror inside the car, the driver’s view is somewhat restricted. However, this problem can be solved with a streaming media rearview mirror.
In order to balance the visual center offset caused by the high taillights, the S7 is designed with a diffuser at the bottom of the rear, which also takes into account the role of streamlining. The centrally located brake light has a bit of an F1 feel.
Overall, Changan UNI-K S7 adheres to the same design concept as the SL03 in appearance, maintaining a strong family recognition while retaining a sharp and sporty visual feel.
Interior, greatly improved luxury feel
The interior of the Changan UNI-K S7 exhibited this time is undoubtedly the biggest highlight of the entire car. As the sister model of the SL03, our original expectation was to make simple adjustments based on it, but the S7 gave an unexpected answer.
The orange interior shown in this shoot is also a trend that has emerged since last year. Ideal L series, NIO, and Xpeng G9 all launched similar color schemes almost simultaneously. However, the orange interior color scheme is challenging to design, and if the element stacking is complicated and the design is not serious, it is easy to make the visual effect look cluttered and light. The following image shows the orange interior color schemes of different car companies that we have created, which can be said to be mature and beautiful designs.
As a newcomer, S7 clearly spent a lot of time researching how to make the orange interior color scheme look harmonious and luxurious. The black upper dashboard creates a wrap-around effect, the delicate feel of the two-tone stitched steering wheel, the perfectly placed chrome accents, the lifting cup holder and the redesigned armrest area… all of these significantly improve the interior of the S7 compared to the SL03. Deep Blue was able to conduct in-depth research on interior design and come up with such a mature design in less than a year. The progress is indeed fast.
The S7’s steering wheel has made subtle adjustments in detail compared to the SL03: the single color has been changed to a two-tone stitching, the chrome area has been extended downwards, the safety airbag/horn area has become more three-dimensional, and the button style has also been slightly adjusted. After the changes, the S7’s steering wheel style looks more layered, while the SL03 may appear a bit flat in comparison.
The style of the turn signal lever/gear shift and DMS in front of the steering wheel on the S7 is the same as the SL03. The biggest change that the S7 has made compared to the SL03 is the cancellation of the instrument panel and its replacement with AR-HUD. In terms of actual effect, although the clarity of the S7’s AR-HUD has improved significantly compared to SL03, the projection area is still relatively small. This static experience cannot perceive the projection effect of navigation information. We will share the experience in the subsequent dynamic test drives.
The central console of the S7 still has a 14.6-inch sunflower screen, and the UI design is not much different from the SL03. However, in order to supplement the information after the cancellation of the instrument panel, the floating window on the left side of the S7’s central control screen will add speed, gear position, and auxiliary driving information, similar to the Model 3/Y concept.
The air conditioning system on the S7 has been redesigned to adopt a central penetration layout, accompanied by an independent air outlet below the central control screen. This design significantly enhances the sense of interior hierarchy, and coupled with the large-area soft wrapping, avoids the situation of large areas of hard touch feeling on the SL03.
The center armrest area of the S7 feels more luxurious. The single phone slot on the SL03 has become the left and right dual placement slots on the S7, but only the left slot is equipped with an actively cooled air outlet.
The space utilization of the center armrest area of the S7 is significantly improved, and the double lifting cup holder with chrome decoration effectively enhances the grade. It is worth mentioning that the S7’s armrest box finally comes with a physical button, which is an improvement over the SL03.
The S7 has made significant improvements in seat functionality and comfort. Interestingly, the S7 not only equipped the front passenger with zero-gravity seats with leg rests but also provided the driver’s seat with a leg rest, which is quite rare.
With the driver’s leg rest, the driver can enjoy a comfortable sitting position without having to move to the passenger seat during charging, parking, or short naps – this is a thoughtful consideration.
The passenger seat has an integrated seat belt, and this design is praiseworthy. If the seat belt is installed on the B-pillar, it would not effectively restrain the passenger when lying down. In the event of an emergency brake, the passenger is likely to slide forward. Moreover, the seat belt integrated into the seat is also more comfortable. Traditionally installed seat belts on the B-pillar may not be adjustable to a suitable position when lying down.
In addition, the S7 is equipped with headrest speakers for the co-pilot, which is an improvement over the SL03 with only one headrest speaker for the driver.
Regarding seating comfort, the thickness of the S7 seat padding, the seam process, and the meticulous punching process all make its visual effect and riding experience better than the SL03. The softness of the ride is also well-wrapped and the leather texture is also very delicate.
Like the SL03, the S7 also adopts a frameless door design, with double-layer soundproof glass used in the front and single-layer glass used in the back. The door panel design of the S7 is also more mature than the SL03: the embossed curve pattern and chrome decoration on the sound outlet, as well as the simple and generous armrest area, highlight the simplicity of beauty.
It is worth mentioning that the S7 has canceled the internal mechanical door handle, and adopts the logic of unlocking through an electronic control button. In addition, the way of lifting and lowering the windows has also been changed to a lever-like design similar to NIO. In the window control area, the S7 uses a design with a similar texture of rattan, although it can see the shadow of other brands, but at least the visual effect is good.
The comfort of the S7’s rear seats is not inferior to that of the front seats. The ride feels thick and soft, and the SUV’s ample longitudinal space allows the rear seats to be raised appropriately, with sufficient leg support when riding. The delicate leather and slightly sunken feel make the S7’s rear seat experience very good.
The rear of the Chang’an Shenlan S7 is equipped with a small control screen. Rear passengers can control the air conditioning system, sunshade, and the position of the front seats, further improving the rear riding experience. There is a Type-C interface below the screen, but the number is relatively small, which is a bit regrettable.
Summarizing the interior of the Chang’an Shenlan S7. The car maker has obviously put a lot of effort into creating a luxurious feel in the cabin, effectively improving on the “rudimentary” complaints made by SL03 car owners, which is worthy of commendation. It can also be seen that Chang’an Shenlan has absorbed consumer opinions and transformed them into the product development process, which is a good thing.
However, a criticism is that the S7 still has some imitation traces in the glass lifting area and central armrest area. For a fledgling new brand, borrowing successful designs is an effective way to shorten the development process and avoid pitfalls. However, it can also damage the brand image, and consumers cannot identify exclusive brand memory anchors. If Shenlan wants to maintain an unbeaten position in the competition in the long term, the company needs to come up with more original designs and promotions to deepen consumers’ impression of the brand.
Having been in existence for less than a year, Chang’an Shenlan has occupied a place in the market with the SL03, and the launch of the second product, the S7, allows this brand to compete in the enormous SUV market.
From the market feedback of the SL03, consumers were generally satisfied with the exterior design language of Chang’an Shenlan. From this static experience, it is evident that the S7’s design language strengthens the family’s identification.
Regarding the interior, although there are traces of imitation in some details, it is still a pleasant surprise that a more mature and luxurious design can be produced in such a short period of time than the SL03. The fact that Shenlan’s engineering design department responds extremely quickly is also a necessary trait in the face of fierce competition.
Analyzing from the market perspective, looking up, the Deep Blue S7 faces a strong competitor like the Model Y.
Looking down, the Deep Blue S7 faces the just-released Liang-Run C11. Both are pure electric/extended range routes, yet Liang-Run directly dropped the extended range version of the 30.1 kWh battery pack to 149,800 yuan; the 43.74 kWh version is only 165,800 yuan. Although objectively speaking, as an “electric-transformation oil” model, Liang-Run C11 is likely to lose to Deep Blue in terms of extended range strategy and energy consumption control，the consumers in this price segment are often highly sensitive to prices, so Deep Blue S7 faces a lot of pressure.
According to the previous information from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the pure electric version of Deep Blue S7 has a battery capacity of 68.8/79.97 kWh and a range of 520/620 km; the extended range version has a battery of 31.73 kWh, and a pure electric range of 160 km. In this price segment, simply relying on a “cheaper” brand clearly cannot win more chips.
From SL03 to S7, Changan Deep Blue is changing its competitive strategy。From “competitive pricing” to “competitive quality”, Changan Deep Blue is choosing a short-term difficult but long-term beneficial path.
This is enough to make people feel relieved.
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.