Driving report: HiPhi Z: The Tacan in view

The performance is no less than spectacular when it comes to a brief loading stop at the pillar on the A8 motorway in Holzkirchen.

Driving report: HiPhi Z: The Tacan in view

The performance is no less than spectacular when it comes to a brief loading stop at the pillar on the A8 motorway in Holzkirchen. The four-door car, which is around five meters long, is not the only thing that causes a stir with its light blue paintwork. On the front and on both flanks there are communication-friendly LED surfaces with 2,752 and 1,314 LEDs respectively. Other manufacturers are testing it, but the HiPhi Z will be the first series model to offer it when it comes onto the European market together with the power SUV HiPhi X in late summer. In their home country of China, the two electric vehicles from Human Horizons are not causing a stir just because of their design; they are in demand. In the previous month of May 2023, Human Horizons was number one in the electric premium segment with a sales share of 24 percent - ahead of brands such as Porsche, BMW, Mercedes and Audi. HiPhi was only founded in 2017.

The best horse in the stable and absolute figurehead is the HiPhi Z, a four-door power coupé that will also compete in Europe from late summer against a Porsche Taycan, Tesla Model S or an Audi Etron. The design of the four-door car is simply spectacular, so it's not surprising that the loading stop on the A8 motorway becomes a big photo shoot for the first summer vacationers from North Rhine-Westphalia. Next door, a Porsche Taycan is reloading – the owner stares at the HiPhi Z and looks as if his Taycan 4S is already a decade old. Like the close-to-production concept study, the Z offers sharp shapes, a hot-cut bodywork and a lot of high-tech over a length of 5.04 meters. A real show are the counter-opening doors with their islands of light that communicate with the environment. The opponent of the Taycan and Etron GT rolls on stately 22-inch wheels and has a rear spoiler that extends in several stages and gradually unfolds from the trunk lid from a speed of 80 km/h. On request, instead of the usual exterior mirrors, there are cameras and small screens in the front left and right of the dashboard. The test car still has the normal mirrors on the outside – but inside, the driver looks at a digital interior mirror and is enticed by 23 boxes.

In contrast to many of its competitors, the Tesla competitor not only wants to shine with its electric range of over 550 kilometers, but also with driver assistance level three, which can be increased to level 4 in the medium term. The Chinese luxury model not only has a dozen cameras, but also numerous lidar and radar sensors that prevent collisions by scanning the environment in real time. “At Human Horizons, we strive to constantly innovate and push the boundaries of what is possible. For this new line of vehicles, we drew inspiration from concepts of space and time, and drew parallels between science, art, human imagination and sensory experience to create something truly special,” explains Ding Lei, Founder of Human Horizons, “represented as the flagship the HiPhi Z is everything we want to be as a brand and is built for people who, like us, are driven by a desire to discover and create."

The interior of the luxurious four-seater is no less impressive than the exterior. Light installations also play a major role here, while most functions are operated via a central screen that can be moved in all directions via a joint, the steering wheel or voice. As with Nio with its Nomi, there is also the so-called HiPhi Bot, a digital assistant with artificial intelligence, which can also be operated by voice and fulfills all wishes on board. The electric comfort seats with glove-soft leather are comfortable, air-conditioned and look great front and rear. However, due to the battery pack in the underbody, the seating position is quite high, which can be particularly annoying for people over 1.85 meters tall. The impressive wheelbase of 3.15 meters ensures ample space, especially in the rear. All functions are operated by voice, on the steering wheel or via the 15-inch touchscreen, which, depending on the address, tilts slightly towards the driver and front passenger - thanks to artificial intelligence. The cargo space is rather manageable with 316 liters behind the electric tailgate; However, it can be expanded to 684 liters by folding the rear seats. With the HiPhi Z, which costs from 105,000 euros, the customer can choose whether he wants to drive it as a four- or five-seater. Incidentally, purchases are made online or via app, while the contracts with the planned service network according to Mark Stanton will only be signed in the coming weeks.

There is a choice of rear or all-wheel drive and an impressive battery pack with 120 kWh, which according to the WLTP cycle should cover just over 550 kilometers until the next charging stop. The test car is an all-wheel drive vehicle with 494 kW / 672 hp. The maximum torque of 820 Nm pushes the almost silent electric flounder violently and so the digits just fly by on the 7.9-inch head-up display. Somewhat surprisingly, it ends at just over 205 km/h. "That puts stress on the battery and that's an issue in itself in a country like Germany," explains CTO Mark Stanton, who has worked for Ford and JLR for decades. From a standstill, it goes to 100 km/h in 3.8 seconds and there is a bit of a lack of feedback at the wheel. The steering feels a bit callous, especially for a sports coupe that competes against the Etron GT and Taycan. On the other hand, the chassis with electronic dampers and air suspension, which not least benefits from the low center of gravity and the corresponding silhouette, is pleasing. Thanks to all-wheel steering, the stately 5.04 meter long digital GT can also be moved around the parking lot without any problems. In the two driving programs Economy and Comfort, the Z travels up to a speed of 120 km/h via the rear axle alone; while he imperceptibly switches to all-wheel drive in sport or individual mode and at a brisk pace. The balanced weight ratio of 50.2:49.8 has a positive effect. The wheels, on which 255/45 R22 are mounted at the front and 285/40 R22 at the rear, are not just visually worth seeing.