Xiaomi says its SU7 EV can outperform Porsche and has more tech than Tesla

It's also the work of former BMW and Mercedes-Benz designers.

The Xiaomi SU7 electric sedan in gray. (Xiaomi)

Xiaomi, a Chinese brand once synonymous with affordable smartphones, is now attempting to make an even bigger splash with its first-ever electric car. Unveiled at a Beijing event earlier today, the Xiaomi SU7 — pronounced "soo-chee" in Chinese — is a sedan based on the company's very own Modena Architecture with HyperEngine electric motors of up to 21,000rpm, as well as chassis stamped by its die casting machines with a clamping force of 9,100 tons — beating that of Tesla's apparently. The line will come in two flavors: the dual-motor all-wheel-drive SU7 Max, and the single-motor rear-wheel-drive SU7.

It'll be a few more months before Xiaomi announces the prices, but it's already claiming that the SU7 Max has a range of up to 800km (497 miles; according to China Light-Duty Vehicle Test Cycle aka CLTC), as well as a 0-100km/h acceleration of just 2.78s, both of which apparently beating Tesla's Model S and Porsche's Taycan Turbo. This is partly thanks to battery maker CATL's generous 101kWh 800V high-voltage platform, which offers a 220km range with just a 5-minute charge, or 390km in 10 minutes, or 510km in 15 minutes. The base model, however, only supports 400V charging for its smaller 73.6kWh battery, which has a range of up to 668km or 415 miles.

Xiaomi SU7

Xiaomi hired talents from the auto industry to realize this project. Most notably, CEO Lei Jun claimed that Tianyuan Li, formerly of BMW's iX series and iVision concepts, offered himself to Xiaomi's auto design team. Li was also joined by James Qiu, who had previously worked on Mercedes-Benz's Vision EQXX design. They later recruited Chris Bangle, a BMW veteran, to be their design consultant.

The SU7 is about the same size as the BMW 5 series, coming in at 1,440mm tall, 1,963mm wide and 4,997mm long. You get three color options: the signature "aqua blue," gray or olive green. In his event, Lei highlighted the seemingly generous leg room as well as trunk spaces — 517L in the back and 105L in the front.

At the launch event, Lei highlighted details like the "water droplet" head lamps, each of which resembled the Chinese character for "rice" (which is the "mi" in "Xiaomi"), as well as the halo rear brake light consisting of 360 LEDs. The exec also pointed out that his team went with the half-hidden door handles, because the more flush handles are apparently harder to use in cold weather.

Xiaomi SU7

Just as Xiaomi teased earlier, the SU7 offers a HyperOS in-car entertainment system, which is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8295 processor and takes just 1.49 seconds to boot. You can access your media, adjust your seats or even control your Xiaomi appliances via the 16.1-inch 3K central screen, as well as optional Xiaomi Pad tablets which can be mounted on magnetic ports (up to 22.5W output) behind the two front head rests. The UI on the central screen allows for up to three split windows for multitasking, and you can even cast your Xiaomi phone's screen to it for a seamless experience. As for music and video entertainment, it'll be complemented by the 23 internal Dolby Atmos speakers.

Lei also mentioned opening up the Xiaomi CarIOT ecosystem to third parties, with one example being a smart booster car seat which can remind you if its seat belt isn't fastened. The exec added that even iPhone users can tap into some of the Xiaomi car features, with support for wireless CarPlay and AirPlay connectivity, as well as iPad-mounting for rear passengers.

Much like Volkswagen, Xiaomi already knows that car owners still prefer to have some physical buttons, so it's kept a few for climate control, as well as two extra buttons — one for toggling the spoiler (Lei said this is largely for showing off), and one for adjusting the body height (to avoid scratching the bottom, if needed). You can also get an optional row of buttons mounted beneath the central display.

Xiaomi Pilot

The SU7 will have autonomous driving capabilities, too, thanks to its Xiaomi Pilot platform powered by up to two NVIDIA Drive Orin processors (the base model only has one) and an array of sensors. These include a top-mounted Lidar, with a visual range of up to 200m and pixel accuracy of down to 0.1m — the latter meaning better detection for thinner and smaller obstacles. In a series of video demos, Xiaomi showed how the SU7 could navigate through a busy live street with mixed obstacles, as well as performing valet parking on its own, and even parking itself in a robotic car park with tight spaces. Being a Beijing-based company, Xiaomi claims that the SU7's sensors can cope with snowy and rainy climates, too.

Lei added that his company aims to complete autonomous driving tests in 100 cities across China by the end of 2024, though it's unclear how soon the local authorities will open up autonomous driving nationwide.

In addition to future software updates, Xiaomi also teased its upcoming HyperEngine V8s with a record-breaking 27,200rpm, all tucked inside a stronger silicon steel housing to keep the motor in check. This is apparently already mass-production-ready, with plans to equip this in cars by 2025. The company then teased further with a next-gen electric motor tech based on carbon fiber, which will apparently be capable of a whopping 35,000rpm, but this won't be ready any time soon, apparently.

Xiaomi SU7

Xiaomi has yet to share prices for the SU7 line, though Lei already hinted that they will be expensive — which is subjective, of course. We shall find out in a few months' time, and hopefully by then we'll know about availability outside China as well, but we wouldn't count on a US launch any time soon, if ever. Meanwhile, you can get the Xiaomi 14, 14 Pro smartphones and the Xiaomi Watch S3 eSIM in their limited edition colors — either aqua blue or olive green — to match the upcoming SU7.