Like the manufacturer Nio, Voyah comes from China, approaching Europe via Norway. Its first showroom opened in Oslo last June to market the electric SUV Free. Maxime Fontanier was there to show you this attractive machine.
Dongfeng premium brand
Voyah is to Dongfeng what Lexus is to Toyota: a high-end brand reserved for a discerning and financially comfortable clientele. Its launch was officially announced at the Beijing Motor Show in September 2020. Its own stand presented two concepts based on the Chinese group’s Essa platform (Electric, Smart and Secure Architecture) and developed for trendy models: the sports sedan i-Land and the SUV i-Frei.
The latter welcomes visitors, prospects and customers to the Voyah Store in Oslo. It shows that the Free marketed model has retained the main lines of the Italian studio Italdesign, to which we can tell the styles of cars as diverse as the Fiat Panda, Renault 19, Lancia Delta, DeLorean DMC 12, BMW Nasca C2, Bugatti EB218, and Lamborghini Cala.
The Voyah Free proposes escaping with a machine that borrows some codes from the world of sailing. We’ll quickly find that the comparison is most obvious at the stern and in the onboard layout.
Free, fruit of i-Free
(repeat 20 times very quickly)
After cameras were phased out in place of wing mirrors, marketable and somewhat subdued versions of the Voyah Free soon followed the Schleierlift. From December 2020, Chinese customers could sign an order form by choosing between an electric model and a rechargeable hybrid version.
The latter should not be offered in Europe. But the admittedly low service tunnel in the rear contributes to the fact that the middle of the rear seat can only be used occasionally or for relatively short journeys.
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During his visit to Voyah’s first European showroom, our specialist journalist was greeted by 2 examples of the SUV, one in white and the other in metallic green. Both were topped with a fixed panoramic glass roof that brings additional light into the cabin. They put on 20-inch turbine-style wheels mounted with Pirelli P Zero tires. The chassis has a double wishbone system at the front and a multi-link system at the rear.
A bit of originality against the competition
Resting on a footprint of 4.90 x 1.95m and a height of 1.65m, the Voyah Free plays on the same pitch as Nio ES8, Audi e-Tron and Mercedes EQE. It can also be invited to purchase projects for an extraordinary electric SUV at the same time as the Tesla Model X or Model Y.
Perhaps you doubt the originality of this Chinese competitor. So pay close attention to the play of the air suspension, which varies the ground clearance from 11.3 cm in the Sport driving mode to up to 21.3 cm. If not necessarily very common, such a device is not new. Many fans of the Citroën DS already enjoyed it in 1955.
like that!? During this process, take a look at the dashboard: it follows the movement! In the center of the board, notice the eye that will play the same role as a travel companion as the Nio ES8’s Nomi. By monitoring your actions and gestures, information about the presence and movements of other users on the streets and on the streets is also reported.
530 km range
The Voyah Free is powered by 2 compact permanent magnet synchronous motors, with a combined power that can reach 360 kW (490 hp), for a maximum torque of 750 Nm, from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.4 seconds, before it starts 200 km/h, which limits its top speed.
The motor is powered by a 100kWh NMC cathode lithium-ion (nickel-manganese-cobalt) battery with a gross energy capacity of 106.4kWh. The Chinese manufacturer states an average consumption of 18 kWh/100 km and a range in the WLTP combined cycle of around 530 km.
The pack can be charged with direct current up to an output of 125 kW via a combo CCS connection. We are far from what the Korean concern Hyundai is now offering. A good curve could put the difference into perspective. The vehicle features an 11kW charger that can be plugged into the 22kW AC outlets available in public spaces or at a personal wallbox.
Ready for the trip?
But how do you trigger the opening of the electric tailgate of the trunk on the Voyah Free? Your choice is to put a foot under the rear bumper or use the remote control. The floor is covered with an original quilted leather and is illuminated by 2 small LED light strips on the sides. The volume of 560 liters increases to 1,320 liters by folding the backrest into 2 parts of the seat. Note that on the units delivered in Europe it is divided into 3 parts, with a ski hatch. Charging cables or small bags can be stowed in the front of the 72 l trunk.
Thanks in particular to a wheelbase of 2.95 m, 2 passengers in the rear have plenty of room for legs, elbows and heads. The seat is not too low. Maxime Fontanier spotted a light interior in faux leather, with a center armrest that can release 2 cup holders if needed.
” Honestly it looks very good. It feels like real leather. It’s very rewarding “, he believes. Apart from a plastic strip of a few centimeters that wants to imitate wood, the materials covering the storm doors are pleasant and padded. There is ample storage space and an atmospheric light bar. Here the windows are tinted.
The driver’s view
In front, the seats are ventilated, heated and massaged and above all very welcoming. ” I think they’re drawn pretty well. It is comfortable. We have a lot of support without being oppressive ‘ the man in the hat guessed. He also noted the presentation lush of the dashboard, from end to end, made up of a series of digital screens.
The passenger sitting next to the driver also has access to various applications. But it has its own shelf above the cooled glove compartment, which keeps the drinks cool. The system includes a 5G dongle. The European versions of the Voyah Free will be compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
To the right of the pebble-shaped drive selector, a touchpad allows you to operate the central screen without smearing it with your fingers. A variety of materials, including brushed aluminum, embellish the highly ergonomic suspended center console. The steering wheel is also, with on the left the buttons for managing driving aids including cruise control and on the other side for intervening in the infotainment system.
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Behind the tire, the instrument screen is very easy to read with beautifully refined graphics. It is a model of its kind. At the bottom left of the speedometer, the percentage of energy available and autonomy are displayed. An induction charger, various sockets (USB and 12 V) and numerous storage spaces are accessible for the front passengers.
The dashboard, door panels and all parts that come into contact with the knees are covered with padded materials. ” This is arguably the best driving position I’ve had in an SUV to date. “, compares Maxime Fontanier. If a test of the Voyah Free could not be carried out, imagine that the machine develops very quietly, even at high speed. The presence of laminated glass and very thick door seals confirm this idea.
” For a long time I went to shows where I saw Chinese studying European vehicles in order to copy them. I can tell you that today Europeans are more likely to start copying Chinese vehicles warns our employee, particularly impressed by what he discovers in this new electric car.
In Oslo, the Voyah Free will be on display from 719,000 Norwegian kroner, available from the end of the year. With a very accurate exchange rate of 0.10 euros per unit, this total amounts to just 71,900 euros.
However, e-mobility drivers in this country do not have to pay VAT, which is 20% in France. So this electric SUV would cost 86,280 euros in France, apart from differentiated prices.
What do you, dear readers, think of this model? Do you think it could worry European manufacturers? And would you be tempted enough to add it to your electric car list to try if you were planning on getting one in this budget?
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