HiPhi X (2023 - Chinese market model) review
HiPhi's first car, the X SUV, is coming to Europe to take on the BMW iX.
James Fossdyke
James Fossdyke

Published on June 28, 2023

To be taken seriously as a luxury brand these days, it seems a big SUV is a prerequisite. Which is why it's no surprise that HiPhi, the Chinese premium brand that's taking its first tentative steps in Europe, is kicking things off with the X. Sitting alongside the Z and the forthcoming Y in the brand's nascent European line-up, it's a rival for the Audi Q8 e-tron and BMW iX, and it'll soon be available in right-hand-drive form. The question is, will customers be lured in by the brand, and will the X be able to compete with its western rivals?

In the metal

Like the Z, the HiPhi X isn't a traditionally beautiful car, but it's slightly less outlandish than the saloon alongside which it's coming to market. There's something Toyota bZ4X-ish about the front end and there's a distinctly Opel Grandland-esque look to the roofline and rear roof pillar. That rear-end design, meanwhile? Well that's clearly taken from the front of the Opel Ampera. You read that right.

In short, the X feels much more familiar than the Z, which appears to be a completely alien concept. Until you open the doors, that is. As with the Z, the driver's door works on a kind of proximity sensing arrangement, where simply approaching with the key will see the front door swing open electrically. Push a button and the door closes behind you, which is all very civilised. And it gets more civilised at the back, where the doors open in the ordinary way, but the roof panels will also swing upwards for easier entry and egress.

What's more, the X is clever enough to know it shouldn't open the roof 'gullwings' when it's raining, or if you're in a multistorey car park with a low roof, but it's a natty feature. And because you can shut the conventional doors independently, you can even drive around at low speeds with the gullwings open, allowing your passengers to stand up like Rommel. Not that we recommend that. Safety first and all that.

And your passengers will be pretty happy sitting down in the X, because the cabin is a very pleasant place to be. The glass panels in the roof allow plenty of light in, and that means even our test car's black interior colour scheme didn't look too drab. It's roomy, too, with buyers facing a choice of four- or six-seat versions. Strangely, the six-seater is the cheap one, even though it offers two folding rearmost seats that are (just about) big enough for adults to sit in relative comfort. Taller passengers will prefer the middle row, though. Opt for the four-seater, and those passengers will like it even more, because there's a drinks cooler in between the two seats, complete with space for a bottle of champagne and two glasses.

Unfortunately, the passenger space comes at the cost of luggage room, and the four-seat version gets a fairly puny 317-litre boot. That's smaller than the load space in the back of a Volkswagen Polo, and while it's supplemented by a small tray under the bonnet for storing charging cables and the like, it's hardly the most practical SUV on the market. That said, if you opt for the six-seater, things improve dramatically. With all six seats upright, a 204-litre boot doesn't sound amazing, but a 587-litre space when the rear seats are folded away feels much more like it. That's the sort of room you get in a big estate.

But though it's billed as a luxury SUV, space is not the HiPhi's raison d'être. Instead, the Chinese brand is aiming to challenge the establishment through its use of technology, so you sit looking at a bank of screens. There's a digital instrument cluster, which comprises a wide, flat display behind the wheel, and there's a massive central touchscreen that's rammed with features. It doesn't move on a robotic arm, like the system in the HiPhi Z, but it still has plenty of toys, including a standard-fit navigation system, although our Chinese-spec car didn't have European mapping installed, so we couldn't really test it.

Nevertheless, the X's on-board tech felt pretty solid, with a responsive screen and sharp graphics, although it wasn't always the most intuitive interface. Nor was the massive passenger screen, which is all but invisible to the driver, but as our pictures show, it's a massive display for others in the vehicle. From there, you can watch TV shows or movies, and you get access to other infotainment features, too.

And while HiPhi likes to make a fuss about the doubtless very clever technology, build quality isn't bad either. Everything feels pretty solid, albeit not quite as impressive as that of the German brands, and the materials are also largely of decent quality. The touch-sensitive panels on the steering wheel take a bit of getting used to, though, and the lack of switchgear generally feels a bit disconcerting.

Driving it

HiPhi freely admits the focus of the X is technology, rather than driving pleasure - it sees its cars as tech commodities that happen to be cars, rather than cars that happen to have tech - but the company also acknowledges tech and driving pleasure aren't mutually exclusive. Yet for those seeking an enjoyable driving experience, the HiPhi Z is a better bet than the much larger X.

Performance is remarkably similar, though, with both cars using a twin-motor all-wheel-drive electric powertrain. In the X, that's fed by a 97kWh battery pack, offering a range of 460km on the official efficiency test. The two motors combine to produce up to 590hp, which gives the X quite the turn of pace. The dash from 0-100km/h is done in 3.9 seconds, and the top speed is 200km/h. It's certainly quick enough to give the BMW iX a run for its money, and it'll almost keep up with the more powerful Z.

Strangely, HiPhi hasn't published rapid charging times for either vehicle, but the company has said both cars will charge at 11kW on three-phase AC chargers.

That done, the X proves a perfectly amiable companion on the road, but it doesn't have the breadth of capability found in the Z. Because it's a very heavy car - the kerb weight is around 2.5 tonnes - the X doesn't feel quite as supple as its sibling, with the wheels seeming to droop into potholes or over the back of bumps at every opportunity. It leads to a slightly brittle ride quality, particularly around town, and though it's better at motorway cruising speeds, it never settles down in the way the Z will.

And because it's a bit taller and heavier than the Z, the X feels a little less capable in the corners. The steering is exceptionally light, almost disconcertingly so, and while that might be quite pleasant around town, it doesn't inspire much confidence when you're trying to corner quickly. Still, that isn't what customers will buy the X for, and its motorway and urban credentials are more important. There, the steering and body control are less important, and refinement becomes more of a factor.

Happily, the HiPhi is quiet enough - the electric motor was never going to be that raucous - but visibility is something of an issue. The rear window is tiny, the front roof pillars get in the way, and the rear windows are tiny, so it isn't the easiest thing to see out of. And when you're in such a big car, that isn't ideal. Thankfully, HiPhi has used technology to ameliorate the situation, fitting a digital rear-view mirror that can be used as a conventional mirror, and there's a the built-in camera system, providing an unobstructed view from the rear. Be warned, though, that the digital camera plays with your depth perception slightly, and objects aren't quite where they seem to be.

What you get for your money

HiPhi is still yet to confirm whether it will sell cars in Ireland, but it has announced right-hand-drive cars are in the pipeline, and the UK and Australia are lined up for future sales. We'd be surprised, therefore, if HiPhi doesn't attempt to sell cars on these shores, but it's still officially up in the air.

As a result, pricing is even less certain. In Germany, the X comes in at €109,000, which is quite a lot of money, so we can be sure the X won't come cheap in any market. But it will come with plenty of equipment, and customers get to choose between four- and six-seat versions. Oddly, the six-seater will be the 'basic' model, while the four-seater gets a champagne cooler between the back seats. Naturally.


In many ways, the HiPhi X is quite impressive. The technology, the look-at-me doors and the performance are all promising, but it lacks the polish and the driving experience of the best premium electric cars. Considering it took HiPhi just three-and-a-half years to develop, though, it's a solid attempt that bodes well for the brand's future.


Tech Specs

Model testedHiPhi X 4-seater (Chinese specification)
Irish pricingnot yet on sale in Ireland; €109,000 in Germany for reference
Powertrainelectric - two 247kW electric motors, lithium-ion 'cell-to-pack' battery pack of 120kWh energy capacity
Transmissionautomatic gearbox - single-speed, all-wheel drive
Body stylefive-door, four-seat SUV
CO2 emissions0g/km
Irish motor tax€120
Electric range460km
Max charging capacitytbc DC, 11kW AC
Charging port typeCCS Combo
Top speed200km/h
0-100km/h4.0 seconds
Max power655hp
Max torque410Nm
Boot space317 litres all seats in use, plus 29-litre 'frunk'
Rivals to the X (2023 - Chinese market model)