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Li Auto L8 review: Will the younger brother of L9 cannibalize its sales?

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What looks like a Li Auto L9 but isn’t a Li Auto L9? A Li Auto L8 MAX!

Li Auto released their smaller EREV SUV based on the same platform as the flagship Li L9. It’s called the Li L8, and it comes in two trim levels, the Li L8 MAX & Li L8 PRO. Also, it looks almost identical to its larger, more expensive flagship brother. While some made fun of Audi having very similar designs between its cars, Li Auto has taken this idea to the next level for better or worse.

Left Li ONE, middle ChinaDriven Will, right Li L8

Pricing

Until this point, Li Auto was somewhat infamous in China for not having trim levels, and they simply offered a one-price, one-trim option. The Li ONE and the Li L9 represent value at their price points stuffed full of tech and features. The Li L8 departs from this formula offering two different models, and the MAX & PRO still represent excellent value in their price segments.

The Li L8 MAX sits at the top and is just under ¥400,000, around $55,200. For that money, you get everything the Li L8 has, which is almost the same as everything the Li L9 has. The Li L8 PRO is cheaper by ¥40,000, costing around $49,700, losing out on some of the things found in the Li L8 MAX but retaining almost all of the same functionality.

Equipment/Tech

The levels of equipment in the Li L8s are impressive. You’ll find the same HUD and mini LED touchscreen in the steering wheel as in the Li L9. The front cockpit will also greet you with dual 3K 15.7-inch central touchscreens; at first glance, they look identical to the Li L9’s dual display. However, they are LCD and thicker than the more expensive OLED panels in the flagship. The Li L8 MAX also benefits from the same dual snapdragon 8155 CPU setup as the Li L9. However, the L8 PRO makes do with a single 8155, mainly because the PRO model has no rear entertainment screen. However, in both models, you’ll be able to use VR glasses via the display port and mirror the front passenger screen. All the Li L8s also keep the Time of Flight cameras, letting them combine gesture and voice control, the same as in the Li L9.

Other differences between the flagship Li L9 and the Li L8 are minimal. There isn’t a heater/cooler in the second row of the Li L8, and the second-row seats lose the vibration motors used in the Li L9 for the 4D movie feeling. However, Dolby Spatial audio is standard on the Li L8. The first and second-row seats all come with heat, ventilation, and massage, and the third row get heat and reclining functions. The massage function in the Li L8 differs from the Li L9’s “SPA massage,” as opposed to the SPA massage using little fist-like balls; the Li L8 massage uses airbags similar to the outgoing Li ONE – but it’s still a massage function.

ADAS

The ADAS computing and sensor array differences are probably the most significant contributors to the drop in price between the Li L8 MAX & PRO models. The Li L8 comes with the same AD MAX found in the Li L9, meaning it has the same dual Nvidia Orin-X chips with 508TOPS. It also uses the same sensor array consisting of a roof-mounted Hesai lidar, six 8MP cameras, two 5MP cameras, 12 ultrasonic radars, and a milliwave radar.

The Li L8 PRO uses a new system named AD PRO, a vision-only system ditching the roof-mounted lidar. It uses a Horizon Robotics Journey 5 chip with 128 TOPS. Its sensor array consists of one 8MP camera, nine 2MP cameras, 12 ultrasonic radars, and a milliwave radar.

We know the practical difference between AD PRO & AD MAX, but we aren’t sure of it as we haven’t driven a Li Auto with AD PRO. However, Li Auto says that booth AD MAX and AD PRO will be able to deliver Li Auto’s NOA.

Batteries, Range

Both Li L8s use the same 42.8kWh CATL NCM622 battery pack, which allows it to travel around 175km (WTLP) in pure EV mode. Importantly that is 25km farther than the outgoing Li ONE it replaces, and slightly shorter than the Li L9’s 180km (WTLP.) However, the Li L9 does boast a larger version of the same battery.

The Li L8 is an extended range EV (EREV), so it is equipped with a 154hp 1.5T 4-cylinder, the same motor found in the flagship L9. Being an EREV, the engine doesn’t drive the wheels directly. Instead, it generates electricity for the electric motors in combination with the battery. That means instant torque from the electric motors. The NVH levels will be better than the outgoing Li ONE’s 3-cylinder 1.2T. In the Li L9, unless it is under strain, foot down up a hill, you won’t hear it much. Cruising, it will be almost silent.

Performance & driving

We haven’t driven the Li L8, but since it uses the same engine, electric motors & the same suspension setup as the Li L9, we expect it to go almost identically. With identical power figures of 330kW and 630Nm, the Li L8 will accelerate to 100kph in 5.5 seconds. That’s one full second faster than the old Li ONE and 0.2 seconds slower than the flagship L9.

Suspension-wise, the Li L8 uses the same double wishbone in the front and a 5-link independent suspension in the rear as the flagship L9. As well as the same CDC and air suspension and should offer excellent on-road comfort. Li Auto aims solely as family-orientated vehicles, so don’t expect any sort of “handling dynamics.”

Exterior & Interior

If it’s escaped you, the Li L8 is pretty damn similar to the Li L9. And the exterior and interior are no exception. Li Auto claim they are structuring their model lineup like the iPhone, which means that it’s the same core product with the same core functionality but has slightly different pricing depending on specific features being removed or included.

And thus, just as your iPhone Pro is a smaller version of the iPhone Pro Max, the Li L8 MAX is a slightly smaller version of the Li L9. No bad thing if you like the L9 and want to save a few thousand dollars. The exterior is almost identical. There are a couple of differences. Firstly due to the L8 being slightly shorter than the L9, the rear overhang is less, creating the illusion that the cabin is pushed further back. The most significant change, and honestly, it’s not that big, the rear number plate has been moved from the middle of the tailgate to the rear bumper.

The Interior is a similar story, with nothing to distinguish them at first glance. Sure there is no rear fridge, the screens are a little thicker, and there’s a bit less legroom. You’d have to have an L9 side-by-side to notice any real difference. Oh, and the Li L8 doesn’t have a second-row passenger table.

Conclusion

I’m undecided if this new strategy from Li Auto will work. Will the L8 eat L9 sales? Or the other way around? Are people ready to buy cars like they buy their phones?

The question I posed to my friend who has an iPhone pro max 500GB was, “Why didn’t you buy a 1TB? “
He answered, “I didn’t need it, so I didn’t spend the extra money.”

Maybe that’s how people will treat the L8. It’s an interesting idea, at the very least, in a car lineup. Let’s see how successful it is.

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