Voyah Free: the premium electric SUV for yachting enthusiasts

Like manufacturer Nio, Voyah comes from China, approaching Europe via Norway. Its first showroom was opened in Oslo last June to sell the Free electric SUV. Maxime Fontanier went there to show you this attractive car.

Dongfeng premium brand

Voyah is to Dongfeng what Lexus is to Toyota: a high-end brand designed for a demanding and financially comfortable clientele. Its launch was officially announced at the Beijing Auto Show in September 2020. At a special booth, 2 concepts based on the Chinese group’s Essa (Electric, Intelligent and Safety Architecture) platform dedicated to fashion models were displayed: the i-Land sports sedan and the i SUV. -Free.

It is the latter that welcomes visitors, potential customers and customers to the Voyah store in Oslo. This shows that the model sold by Free has retained the main features drawn by Italdesign’s Italian office, to which we owe the styling of cars as diverse as the Fiat Panda, Renault 19, Lancia Delta, DeLorean DMC 12, BMW Nasca C2, Bugatti EB218, and Lamborghini Cala. .

Voyah Free offers to escape with a car that has borrowed some codes from the world of yachting. We will quickly notice that it is in the stern and in the layout on board that the comparison can be made in the most obvious way.

Free, fruit i-Free
(repeat very quickly 20 times)

Abandoning cameras in place of exterior mirrors, marketable and somewhat subdued versions of the Voyah Free soon followed the veil. From December 2020, Chinese buyers can sign an order form to choose between an electric model and a battery-powered hybrid version.

The latter should not be offered in Europe. But the service tunnel in the back is admittedly low, helping to make the middle of the rear seat a place that can only be used occasionally or for relatively short trips.

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During a visit to the first European Voyah car dealership, our specialist journalist was waiting for 2 copies of an SUV, one in white and the other in green metallic. Both were topped with a fixed panoramic glass roof that provides extra light to the cabin. They relied on 20-inch turbine-type rims fitted with Pirelli P Zero tires. The chassis has a double wishbone suspension at the front and a multi-link system at the rear.

A bit of originality compared to competitors

With a footprint of 4.90 x 1.95m and a height of 1.65m, Voyah Free plays on the same floor as the Nio ES8, Audi e-Tron and Mercedes EQE. It can also be used simultaneously with a Tesla Model X or Model Y in projects to purchase an unusual electric SUV.

You may doubt the originality of this Chinese competitor. So look out for the air suspension play that changes the ride height from 11.3cm in sport mode to 21.3cm. Unless it’s necessarily very common, such a device isn’t new. Many Citroën DS supporters were having fun with it as early as 1955.

So !? Take a look at the dashboard during this operation: it follows the movement! Notice the eye in the center of the board, which will play the same role as Nomi on the Nio ES8. By tracking your actions and gestures, it will also provide information about the presence and movements of other users on the streets and roads.

range 530 km

Voyah Free is powered by two compact permanent magnet synchronous motors with a combined output of up to 360 kW (490 horsepower) with a maximum torque of 750 Nm. 200 km/h, which limits its top speed.

The engine is powered by a lithium-ion battery with an NMC (Nickel-Manganese-Cobalt) cathode with a capacity of 100 kWh at a full energy capacity of 106.4 kWh. The Chinese manufacturer reports an average consumption of 18 kWh/100 km and a combined WLTP range of around 530 km.

Through the Combo CCS connector, the battery can be charged with direct current up to 125 kW. We are far from what the Korean group Hyundai is now offering. A good curve can make the difference relative. The vehicle has an 11kW charger for connection to 22kW AC terminals available in public areas or in a personal wall box.

Ready to ride?

But how do you open the electric tailgate on Voyah Free? You have a choice: put your foot under the rear bumper or use the remote control. The floor is covered with original quilted leather and is lit by two small LED strips on the sides. The volume of 560 liters is increased to 1320 liters by folding the seatback into 2 parts. Please note that on units shipped to Europe it will be divided into 3 parts with a ski hatch. Charging cables or small bags can be stowed at the front in the 72-litre boot.

In particular, thanks to the 2.95 m wheelbase, 2 passengers sitting in the back will have plenty of legroom, elbow room and headroom. The seat is not too low. Maxime Fontagnier discovered a bright synthetic leather interior with a central armrest, from which 2 cup holders can be released if necessary.

To be honest, it looks really good. It feels like real leather. it is very useful “, he thinks. Apart from a few centimeters of plastic strip that imitates wood, the materials covering the storm doors are pleasant and soft. Ample storage and a light strip. The windows here are tinted.

Driver’s point of view

At the front, the seats are ventilated, heated and massaged and, above all, very comfortable. ” They are pretty well drawn I think. It’s comfortable. We have a lot of support, but it does not depress “- appreciated the man in the cap. He also drew attention to the presentation luxurious dashboard, from one end to the other, consisting of a series of digital screens.

Thus, the passenger sitting next to the driver also has access to various applications. To do this, it has a special shelf located above the refrigerated glove box, which keeps drinks cool. The system includes a 5G dongle. European versions of Voyah Free will be compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

To the right of the pebble-shaped drive selector is a touchpad that allows you to control the central screen without smearing it with your fingers. Various materials, including brushed aluminum, decorate the very ergonomic hanging center console. The steering wheel also has buttons on the left to operate the driving aids, including cruise control, and on the other side to intervene in the infotainment system.

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Impressive finish

Behind the hoop, the instrument screen is very easy to read with nice, sophisticated graphics. This is a model of its kind. The lower left corner of the speedometer shows the level of available energy in percentage and range. Passengers traveling in front have access to an induction charger, various sockets (USB and 12V) and plenty of storage space.

The dashboard, door panels and all parts that come into contact with the knees are covered with soft materials. ” This is quite possibly the best driving position I have ever had in an SUV. “, compares Maxime Fontanier. If the Voyah Free test had failed, one would imagine that the car is moving very quietly, even at high speed. The presence of laminated glazing and very thick door seals confirm this idea.

For a long time I went to exhibitions where I saw how the Chinese are studying European cars in order to copy them. I can tell you that today Europeans will soon start copying Chinese technology warns our employee, particularly impressed by what he discovers about this new electric vehicle.

Prices

In Oslo, Voyah Free is listed starting at NOK 719,000 and available at the end of the year. At a very accurate exchange rate of 0.10 euros per unit, this amount is only 71,900 euros.

However, electric vehicles in this country do not have to pay VAT, which in France is 20%. Thus, this electric SUV in France will cost 86,280 euros, if you do not count differentiated prices.

What do you think, dear readers, about this model? Do you imagine that this can disturb European manufacturers? And would you be tempted enough to add it to your EV list to give it a try if you were planning to get it on that budget?

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