Test Drive | Zeekr 009: Redefining Luxury in the Chinese EV MPV Market

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Zeekr, the premium electric vehicle brand of the Chinese automaker Geely, has recently released a luxurious multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) called the Zeekr 009. But why would a Chinese brand develop an expensive people carrier when the MPV market has largely faded in the West?

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In China, low-end MPVs are available, but this segment thrives most at the high-end of the market. These vehicles are usually status symbols, indicating wealth and success, and they are often chauffeur-driven. Chinese premium EV brands, such as Zeekr, are now looking to leverage this market as an opportunity to demonstrate their technological and quality capabilities.

Exterior

The Zeekr 009’s front design is characterized by a large grille, which is typical in the luxury MPV segment. The grille is a necessary evil, but the 154 programmable dot-matrix LEDs behind it, dubbed “The Spring of Light,” add a touch of style. The distinct square LED daylight running lights are a departure from the norm of LED light bars in EVs. The front end is massive, with a bold and unapologetic design that exudes power. Despite its aggressive appearance, there is something inherently cool about the Zeekr 009, particularly in an all-black finish.

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The side profile is long, square, and functional, with darkened pillars that give the impression of a floating roof. The addition of chrome accents along the side and door handles adds some style to the vehicle. The door handles are normal, which is a relief, as many EVs have introduced complicated new ways to open doors that can be confusing to passengers.

The rear of the vehicle is dominated by the chrome belt-line that splits it in half. The massive rear windscreen offers excellent visibility, which is essential in this 5.2-meter long MPV. The rear of the vehicle features the same fin design seen in the Zeekr 001, as well as a clean, uncluttered look that contrasts with the aggressive front end.

Interior

The interior of the Zeekr 009 is made of premium materials that reinforce its status as a top-tier vehicle. Nappa leather, micro suede, and metal touchpoints add to the sense of luxury, while the steering wheel and gear selector take styling cues from the Zeekr 001. The ambient lighting in the rear is more for aesthetics than function, adding a touch of class to the vehicle.

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All the seats in the Zeekr 009 are comfortable, with multiple heating, ventilation, massage, and adjustment options. However, the second-row seats stand out in terms of luxury and adjustability. The second-row seats are essential in a luxury MPV, and the Zeekr 009 delivers ample space and adjustability options. The three-row layout is well-designed, with the third row providing enough space while still allowing for 376 liters of trunk space with the seats up and 2979 liters with the third row down.

The entertainment system in the rear is delivered via a roof-mounted 15.6-inch LCD screen with a remote. Given the amount of legroom in the second row, this setup makes sense. The first and second-row seats have headrest speakers, adding to the already impressive Yamaha sound system’s 20-speaker count. The second row is undoubtedly the best place to be, with an HDMI connection for screen mirroring, a roof-mounted camera for conference calling, solid pull-out tables, and built-in 60W fast charging for each seat.

Overall, the Zeekr 009’s interior is elegant, comfortable, and practical, with a particular emphasis on the second row for a luxury MPV experience.

Battery, Range. Charging

The Zeekr 009 comes in two different trims, the WE Edition and the ME Edition. The WE Edition is priced at around $72,500 and is equipped with a 116kWh CATL NCM battery pack. It boasts a claimed range of 702km, which is more than enough for most drivers. The ME Edition, on the other hand, is priced at around $82,500 and comes with a 140kWh CATL Qilin battery pack, which gives it a claimed range of 822km.

One of the most attractive features of the Zeekr 009 is that it is the world’s first vehicle to be equipped with CATL’s Qilin battery, which provides a 13% increase in power compared to a pack of the same size filled with Tesla’s 4680 cells. It is important to note that the CATL Qilin battery is an advancement in cell-to-pack packaging, rather than cell chemistry, but the gains it offers are quite impressive.

Although the Zeekr 009 is marketed as a premium vehicle, its pricing is quite reasonable, especially when compared to the Toyota Alphard in China, which has a price tag of between $121-134,000.

Toyota Alphard

The Zeekr 009 offers DC fast charging, which can take the battery from 10% to 80% in just 28 minutes. Standard times, but remember these are big batteries.

Tech

The Zeekr 009 boasts an impressive array of high-tech features. The dashboard greets the driver with a 10.2-inch digital instrument panel and a 15.4-inch central LCD touchscreen, which are both powered by a Snapdragon 8155 CPU. The infotainment system is responsive and well-organized, and there are plenty of USB-C connections and a wireless phone charger. However, it is worth noting that the UI is only available in Chinese, but it’s unlikely the Zeekr 009 will follow the Zeekr 001 & Zeekr X to Europe. But in the future perhaps an English UI will become available in the Chinese market based on those cars.

One feature that is notably absent is a heads-up display, but this is not a major drawback. The car also comes equipped with a voice assistant, which is standard for many vehicles in China.

In the second row of seats, passengers will find the Zeekr 009’s “smart bar,” a 3.4-inch circular LCD panel on the door that controls the third-zone air conditioning, as well as capacitive touch buttons for the rear windows and panoramic roof shade. These features are sure to impress anyone looking for a premium EV with all the latest tech.

ADAS

Zeekr has incorporated an advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) in the 009 model, which is powered by Mobileye’s Supervision full stack ADAS solution. While the automaker is expected to launch an advanced ADAS suite called the Zeekr Autonomous Driving (ZAD) that will enable exceptional ADAS capabilities for complex driving scenarios, it’s not yet available. The ZAD package will be provided for a one-time fee.

Currently, the 009 comes with a standard level 2 ADAS system, which features Lane Keep Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), and Zeekr’s Highway Autopilot (ZNP). The ADAS sensor array comprises seven 8-megapixel cameras, twelve ultrasonic radars, one millimeter wave radar, and four 2-megapixel cameras for the 360-degree camera system. The Mobileye Supervision solution is vision-based, which means the car does not have lidar. The data collected by the sensors is processed by dual Mobileye EQ5H chips that deliver 48TOPs.

Driving & Performance

For an MPV, the Zeekr 009 has a ridiculously powerful dual motor drivetrain. Delivering 400kW (544hp) of power and 686Nm (506ft-lbs) of torque to the pavement; it smashes 0-100kph in 4.5s. While it’s unclear why an MPV needs this level of power, it certainly adds some fun to the driving. The Zeekr 009 can come to a stop from 100kph in 36.9m, which is impressive, but the sheer mass of the vehicle is felt during heavy braking.

Driving dynamics are nothing to write home about, as expected, but it delivers a comfortable ride thanks to its air suspension and CDC. While this sort of vehicle is not ideal for high-speed cornering, the tires do a commendable job, but no matter what physics cannot be overcome. This is very much a comfortable point and squirt kind of speed. Slow in, fast out.

Ultimately, the Zeekr 009 is designed to deliver comfort to the person in the back, most likely the “Big Boss.” The rear seats are feature-packed, relaxing, and remarkably comfortable, making them perfect for long chauffeured journeys.

Conclusion

If you’re in the market for a luxury MPV, the Zeekr 009 is definitely worth considering. It may not have the brand recognition of some of its more established competitors, but it certainly holds its own in terms of features and performance.

Of course, whether or not you should buy a Zeekr 009 ultimately depends on your personal circumstances. If you’re the type of person who prioritizes comfort and wants to be chauffeured around in style, then the Zeekr 009 is a great choice. Its rear seats are incredibly comfortable and feature-packed, making it the perfect car for long journeys.

However, if you’re swimming in cash and want to make a splash in a relatively small Chinese city, like Changsha, with a measly 7 million people, the Zeekr 009 might not be for you. For now, perhaps the Toyota Alphard still reigns supreme as the go-to MPV for those who want to show off their success in these sorts of places. But I’m not convinced it can hold onto the crown for long. In larger cities where getting a license plate for an internal combustion engine is expensive and difficult, the Zeekr 009 is an outstanding proposition.

At the end of the day, the Zeekr 009 is a fantastic MPV that delivers on its promises. While it may not be the most well-known car in its class, it certainly deserves more recognition. If you’re looking for a luxury MPV that offers great performance, comfort, and features, the Zeekr 009 is definitely worth checking out.

Will Sundin is an EV lover who regularly brings reviews about Chinese EVs. You can follow him on Twitter.

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