News Detail

The IM LS7 Might Have TOO MUCH Tech

Issuing time:2023-08-25 20:00Author:Ethan Robertson

What is it?

The IM LS7 is an electric SUV that was co-developed by China’s largest automaker, SAIC, and its largest tech company, Alibaba. It also has a chassis tuned by Williams Engineering from Formula 1. It’s going to need all the help it can get, because with a price of 40-64,000 USD before options, it’s looking to break into one of the toughest segments in the Chinese car market, premium electric SUVs.

IM LS7.jpg

Classic sophomore album

The task given to the designers at IM was difficult one: adapt the striking and sinister lines of the IM L7 sedan to the body of an SUV. I get that you can’t simply transplant the front end of a sedan straight onto a taller SUV body and call it a day, but I’m not sure I love what they came up with. By dropping the unique epsilon-shaped daytime running lights of the L7, the design of the LS7 feels more anonymous.


They also went so far as to do color matching wheels, joining the Porsche Taycan in bringing back a trend that died off in the early 2000s and probably should have stayed dead. Speaking of other manufacturers, the rear of the LS7 is beautiful, but it’s also pure Aston Martin. Behind the LED panel on the rear is 722-liters of cargo space, much more than competitors like the Denza N7 and NIO ES6, but that’s no surprise considering the LS7 is around 20cm (8 inches) longer than either of them. But despite being longer even than the Model X, at just 56L, the frunk of the LS7 is about 1/3 the size of the Tesla’s.


Beware the yoke

When I closed the electronically operated driver’s door (only available on the top-spec model) for the first time, I was faced with a terrifying sight: a yoke. I will not mince words; I don’t get the point of the yoke. I truly don’t see what this thing does for the user experience beyond looking kind of sci-fi. In exchange, you have something that is less convenient to use than a traditional wheel, and also less ergonomic.

This issue has been discussed ad nauseum, so I won’t waste more time on it. It’s a no-cost option, so it’s not like IM is forcing you into the choice. The company says that around 50% of their customers are choosing it over a traditional round wheel. If the trade-off between looks and useability is worth it to you, then all the more power to you. I will stick with my regular old round wheel.


The LS7 has one of the airiest interiors I’ve experienced in a modern car, and it’s all due to the Star Fall front windshield, which expands the boundaries of a traditional windshield to right over top of the driver’s head. It uses tinted, triple plane glass, so you don’t have to suffer major sunburn or increased NVH in exchange for the very expansive view. The only downside, as far as I can tell, is that it makes the car look like it has a receding hairline.

The rest of the interior design is largely similar to the L7, but with a few tweaks that make it much more livable. You still have the triple-screen setup, with a 26.3-inch screen acting as your instrument cluster and center screen, and a 12.8-inch lower screen where you’ll find all your menus and functions. The lower screen is now integrated into the center console, as opposed to floating like it did in the L7. It might be a neater installation, but it still has some issues with legibility under harsh sunlight.


The third screen is a noticeable improvement over the L7, as it deletes the large, black space between the center and passenger screens. Not only does reducing that space make it more attractive, it also allows for a larger passenger screen of 15.5-inches instead of 12.3. Don’t worry, the upper screens can still do their party trick of raising and lowering a few centimeters.

Below the lower screen you will find four touch buttons for AC, hazard lights, SOS, which will call emergency services, and DLP. That last one stands for Digital Light Projection, which in layman’s terms, means the LS7 can project images onto the ground in front of it, or onto flat surfaces, like a wall. The former includes things like arrows to signal pedestrians they can cross in front of the car, while the latter includes a variety of light shows.


The only other touch buttons up front are the window controls, and the less said about those, the better. I disliked them on the L7 because they are inconvenient, and I dislike them here for the same reason. They are, however, one of the few areas of complaint that I have about this car’s front row. The rest of it is luxurious and easy to use. Apart from the plastic center console, materials are soft and supple throughout. I especially like the fishbone pattern on the real wood trim. The optional sound system is 24-speakers, and it’s loud enough to blow out your ear drums, if that’s what you’re into.


When equipped with the optional luxury seat package, the driver and passenger seat of the LS7 are heated, cooled, and massaging, as well as highly adjustable. That includes not just adjustable thigh bolsters, but also adjustable headrests. The real show, however, begins in the back row. Rear seats can be optioned with heating, cooling, and massaging functions, and electronically adjustable rake, lumber support, and leg rests.

These functions are controlled via more of those annoying touch buttons on the door panel, but I am willing to forgive them for that, because of one of those buttons activates the zero-gravity mode for the right rear passenger seat. Not only does the seat tilt and recline, the front passenger seat folds and slides neatly under the dashboard, giving you plenty of space the stretch out.

Sitting in that seat was probably the most comfortable I’ve ever been inside of a car, but I have to admit that it didn’t feel especially safe to use weightless mode while the car was in motion. IM assured me that they designed the seat and seatbelt to keep passengers from sliding straight into the dashboard in the event of an accident, but I’m grateful I didn’t have to test that design myself. That’s not the only problem. When equipped with the optional seat, the right rear seat cannot fold down, which cuts into cargo space. A more cosmetic concern is that it looks downright aftermarket when taken within the context of the entire back seat. The other rear passenger seat makes due with just a heating function, but you do get an armrest, within which is a Type-C USB port. On the rear of the center console you’ll find AC controls and a second USB port.

William’s magic, or just air suspension?

The LS7 is available in both rear and dual motor trims, as well as three different ternary lithium battery packs, measuring 77, 90 and 100 kWh. When equipped with the single motor powertrain, they provide 502, 610, and 660 km of range on the CLTC cycle, respectively.


The dual motor can only be had with the 90 or 100 kWh battery packs, which deliver 550 to 625 km of range. Those numbers are roughly equivalent to what you would get from Chinese competitors like the XPeng G9 and NIO ES6, but I'm not so sure about the charge time for the LS7. You see, I wasn't able to find an official 20-80% charge time, but I'm fairly certain that it's not going to do as well as the XPeng G9 or the ES6. That's because it rides on a 400v architecture with a max charging power of 150 kW. The G9 has an 800v architecture, so I know it's going to charge faster, and the NIO has battery swapping.


We know for sure that the dual motor LS7 is slower to 100 km/h than the dual motor version of the XPeng, despite having more power, 425 kW and 725 Nm of torque (578 hp/537 lbs-feet). Of course, a 0-100 km/h time of 4.5 seconds is hardly going to disappoint your average driver, but it won’t earn you much bragging rights in this segment.

What you really want to know about, however, is the chassis that was tuned by Williams Engineering. LS7 rides better than the L7 and has admirably good body control for such a big, heavy SUV. I’m not sure, however, if I should attribute that to the fine people at Williams, or to the fact that the LS7 now has adjustable air suspension, something they insisted wasn’t necessary for the L7 sedan. Don’t get me wrong, an air suspension doesn’t make a bad chassis into a good one, but it lets the chassis of LS7 shine a bit more.


I can't say that the LS7 is any more engaging or involving to drive than any other SUV in this segment. It has the same light steering as any of its competitors. The difference between the air suspension settings is perceptible, but not huge. They all fall within a very comfortable range, and sport mode won’t be shaking your teeth out of your skull or anything. If I were to raise a complaint, it would be with the regen, which feels too light for my tastes, and doesn’t offer the option of one-pedal driving.


Air suspension isn’t the only upgrade the LS7 gets over its stablemate, there’s also the newly available dual, roof-mounted lidar units from RoboSense. Those enable highway navigation on autopilot, which I was able to use during a 45-minute commute on both elevated roads and highways. During that limited time, I found the system to be reliable and easy to use.   



Of the two current IM models, the L7 sedan might be the better looking, but the LS7 is the better executed. Whether it’s space, performance, or tech, this electric SUV has what it takes to compete in this red-hot segment.

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