A newcomer to the growing electric SUV segment, the Chinese Aiways comes to titillate established brands with its U5. An attractive model on paper that we compared to one of the benchmarks on the market: the Kia e-Niro.
Once reduced to a handful of models, the electric SUV market is about to explode. While traditional manufacturers have almost all integrated a model in their catalog, Chinese brands are invited to the party, determined to take advantage of this electric frenzy to come and bite the European market. A pioneer on the French market, the MG ZS EV is now joined by the Aiways U5 in a more upscale segment. What is the new Chinese electric SUV worth? To better compare it to the existing offer, we put it against the Kia e-Niro, which is now a benchmark on the market.
For this first Sino-Korean comparison, we inherited an Aiways U5 with a premium top-of-the-range finish. Equipped with 19-inch rims, it faces an electric Niro in Active intermediate finish with 17-inch rims.
Almost identical characteristics
On the mechanical side, the two vehicles are quite close. The Aiways U5 has a 63 kWh battery, slightly less than the 64 kWh offered on board the Kia e-Niro. In terms of engine, our two competitors embark the same block of 204 horsepower driving the front wheels. The advantage, however, goes to the e-Niro which offers a little more torque than its Chinese competitor (395 VS 310 Nm).
As for the on-board charger, the U5 is content with 6.6 kW where the e-Niro displays 7.2 kW and even 11 kW as an option. For fast charging, both models have a Combo connector. In terms of power, the Aiways U5 can reach 90 kW while the Kia e-Niro tops out at 77 kW. In both cases, allow 30 minutes for an 80% charge.
A more livable U5
In terms of size, the two models do not quite play in the same court. With 4.68 in length, the Aiways U5 is 30 cm longer than its Korean rival with inevitably positive consequences in terms of habitability.
|Aiways U5||Be e-Niro||Difference|
|Length||4.68 m||4.38 m||+ 30 cm|
|Width||1.87 m||1.81 m||+ 6 cm|
|Height||1.70 m||1.57 m||+ 13 cm|
|Wheelbase||2.80 m||2.70 m||+ 10 cm|
In the trunk, the U5 has an automatic tailgate that can be activated by putting one foot under the shield. If the manufacturer announces 432 liters on paper, the proposed volume seems much greater than that of the Korean model, yet given for 452 liters.
With the backseat folded down, the U5 wins the match given its headroom and longer length. In this case, it offers a volume of 1,555 liters where the e-Niro is content with only 1,405 liters.
Another advantage of the Aiways: a second trunk located under the front hood. It is not very big but enough to store the charging cables.
In the rear seats, the Aiways U5 offers royal comfort given its larger wheelbase. Equally comfortable, the Niro offers a little less legroom.
At the front, the U5 offers a mini frunk to house the charging cables
Interior: between tradition and modernity
Inside, the philosophy of the two models is very different. On the U5, the presentation is very modern. It consists of a large 12.3-inch touch screen complemented by fully digital instrumentation. The ergonomics are worthy of a smartphone. As with Tesla, the central screen allows you to control all of the vehicle’s functions. Compatibility with Apple Car Play and Android is also at the rendezvous. Storage is plentiful even if we regret the absence of a glove box. Overall, the finishes are average but remain correct for a manufacturer who is new to the European market.
More consensual and less spacious than its Chinese competitor, the interior of the Kia e-Niro is more inspired by the classic universe of the automotive world. In terms of ergonomics, everything falls to hand. The Korean SUV inherits digital instrumentation and an on-board computer supplemented by many physical buttons. Compatible with Android Auto and Apple Car Play, the multimedia system is well made and integrates GPS navigation which is not the case with Aiways where it is imperative to plug in your phone. Also numerous, the storage has a non-slip coating that prevents objects from wandering around, which is not the case on the Aiways.
Equipped with independent suspensions, the Kia e-Niro offers a completely correct level of comfort at low speed on the cobblestones of Paris. In addition to the different driving modes, including an Eco + which restricts both speed and consumption of equipment, the big advantage of the Korean SUV lies in its steering wheel paddle system. These allow the level of the regenerative brake to be modulated very instinctively. The Aiways electric SUV also offers several levels of regeneration but it will imperatively go through the settings of the touch screen. Not very practical!
In terms of handling, our two competitors are doing quite well. More compact, the e-Niro has a 10.6 m turning radius where its Chinese rival has 11.2 m, which remains very correct in view of its size. In both cases, a set of sensors facilitates the maneuvers. The Aiways model seems a little better equipped, however, with a camera pointed at the driver even going so far as to invite you to take a break if you have the misfortune to yawn. A somewhat intrusive system which, associated with the repeated beeps of sensors and radars (fortunately can be deactivated), quickly ends up annoying.
On small roads, the two models are the same and do not have to be ashamed of their performance. However, the e-Niro is a step above with a steering that is both better calibrated and more direct than that of the Aiways, which is less precise. Less progressive under braking, the Chinese SUV displays a little more body movement which remains logical given the height and smoothness of the suspension.
With a 0 to 100 km / h shot in 7.8 seconds, our two competitors show more or less equivalent performance on the motorway. At top speed, the e-Niro climbs to 164 km / h where the Aiways model is limited to 150 km / h. In terms of driving aids, the Kia e-Niro wins the match. The proposed active regulator is more practical and appears to be both more stable and more reliable than that of the Aiways. Ditto in terms of comfort where the damping of the Kia seems more successful and less sensitive to the waves of the road. Conversely, the U5 seems better soundproofed than its Korean competitor.
Le Kia e-Niro roi de la conso!
Renowned for its frugality, the Kia e-Niro wins out over the consumption component. After 130 km driven mainly on expressways, the Korean SUV shows an average of 24.2 kWh / 100 km where its competitor climbs to 28 kWh / 100 km.
Compared to the battery capacity, this gives 345 km of range for the e-Niro and 300 km for the U5 under the conditions of our test.
|Consumption observed||Estimated real autonomy|
|Be e-Niro||24.2 kWh/100 km||345 km|
|Aiways U5||28 kWh/100 km||300 km|
Prices: a very competitive Chinese SUV
In terms of prices, our two competitors are very close. Displayed from € 39,300, the Aiways U5 is still almost € 2,000 less expensive than the Kia e-Niro, billed from € 41,100 in its basic version.
|Be e-Niro||Aiways U5|
|Base price excluding bonus||41 100 €||39 300 €|
|Guarantee||7 years – 150,000 km||5 years – 150,000 km|
If it offers less autonomy and a lower level of comfort than that of the e-Niro, the Aiways U5 is distinguished by a really great price and its superior roominess. On the issue of the distribution network, Kia is now winning hands down, but Aiways is redoubling its efforts to develop its own network, in particular by partnering with the Feu Vert centers to carry out maintenance operations.
And you ? What do you think of these two SUVs? Which one do you prefer? Do not hesitate to give your opinion in the comments!