Deepal S7: SUV Beats Sedan (Sometimes)
Issuing time:2023-07-01 10:18
What is it?
This is the S7, a new energy SUV from Changan sub-brand, Deepal. Yes, since we reviewed their first model, the SL03 sedan, the company, which we previously referred to by its Chinese name, Shenlan, has officially embraced the brand name Deepal.
Petal of Star Power
As English names for Chinese brands go, it’s not bad. Also not bad is the design of the S7. In fact, I think it’s downright good looking. The S7 still has the same LED light design of the SL03, one that elicits thoughts of sci-fi weaponry. But now I have learned their official name, or at least my translation of the original Chinese. They are called the Petal of Star Power.
The shape of the S7 wraps around its 20-inch wheels very nicely, with broad rear haunches and a gently rising belt line. Rear visibility be damned, this thing looks good. It also results in a Cd of 0.258, not bad for an SUV. Being the thorough and diligent cat reviewer that I am, I also learned the name of the taillight design, and it’s even better than the front. They are called the Star Flame Penetrating light. The sci-fi lover in me is delighted.
More details, less barren
Despite the way the Deepal brand is being covered by media outside of China, having driven both of the brand’s cars, I don’t think it really qualifies as a Tesla rival. This thing doesn’t compete in the same entry-level premium category as Tesla, but rather floats somewhere near the top of the mainstream category, and that’s reflected in the pricing. Prices for extended-range models of the S7 run from 21,000-23,000 USD, while pure EV models can be had for between 26 and 28,000.
It’s also reflected on the interior, which doesn’t have quite the same level of material quality as more expensive options here in China. The S7 does, however, have a bit more detailing than the barren interior of Deepal SL03, such as on the door panels. It’s not a seismic shift in design, but it makes the cockpit feel less basic.
It also retains the augmented reality heads-up display of the SL03, as well as the 15.6-inch center screen that can tilt up to 15 degrees from left to right. Notable differences between the two include things like the new center console design that has two slots for phones, though only one of them is actually a wireless charger.
While legroom in the SL03 was quite copious thanks to its 2.9m wheelbase, headroom was a major issue. Not so with the S7, which keeps that same wheelbase, but adds quite a bit height. Score one for the age-old SUV vs sedan debate. The S7 also adds a small panel on the rear of the center console for controlling the air condition, opening the sunshade, and moving the front passenger seat back and forth for better rear legroom. Alas, I must end on a bad note, because this thing still only has one type-C USB charging port in the rear.
No official numbers for rear cargo space, but there is multilevel storage. The pure electric version of this car will have a frunk measuring 125L, though this extended range model obviously did not.
EREV almost equals EV
EREV cars come with either a 19 or a 32-kWh battery pack, which deliver a CLTC range of 121 and 200 km, respectively. The driving experience is more or less identical to a regular EV, meaning lots of torque off the line, and the gas generator up front is hardly even noticeable once it’s on.
The S7 can also be had as a pure EV, with your choice of a 67 or 80-kWh battery pack sporting a CLTC range of 520 and 620 km, respectively. Both are single motor and make 320 Nm of torque, but rather strangely, the smaller battery pack model makes 190 kW (258 HP) and the larger one makes only 160 kW (218 HP).
It’s interesting that Shenlan has decided not to go toe to toe with the performance versions of cars like the BYD Seal and Tesla Model 3. Instead, they seem happy saving that money and focusing on the more affordable end of the market, so they don’t need a model with face-melting acceleration.
I described the Deepal SL03 as riding more like a lowered SUV than a sporty sedan. The S7, on the other hand, rides like an SUV, which is good, because it is. Yes, it also has worse body control, but that’s to be expected when you lift a suspension. What matters to me is that it rides better and offers a more practical and spacious package.
While I was less than enthusiastic about the SL03, I think Deepal has done a better job with the S7. I know as a car reviewer I’m supposed to pick the sedan over the SUV every time, but in this case, I think the S7 is a better deal and a more enjoyable package than its lower, better-handling sedan counterpart. Don’t worry, I’ll hand in my automotive enthusiast card on the way out the door.
Deepal S7 200 Max
Engine: 1.5L Turbo 4-Cylinder
Electric Motor: Rear-mounted
Power: 175 kW, 320Nm (235 HP/237 lb-ft)
EV Range: 200 kmWLTC
0-100 km/h: 7.7-seconds
Wheelbase: 2900 mm
CDM Price (as tested): 23,700 USD
Article classification: Electric Vehicles