Cars > Driven

Hongqi e-HS9 Flagship: China’s definition of an electric luxury SUV

It rides like a magic carpet

The Hongqi e-HS9 is one of the most sophisticated vehicles to come out of China. PHOTO BY MANSKEE NASCIMENTO

If you’re still stuck with the stigma associated with Chinese cars, it just shows you’ve been hiding in a cave. Just like how the Korean marques have evolved into the global superbrands they are today, the Chinese have been catching up at an unprecedented pace.

Even their entry-level cars offer tremendous value, sophistication, and style. But how are they in terms of building premium and luxury vehicles? The answer to that is Hongqi (pronounced as ‘Haang-chee’).

For decades, the brand was dedicated to building vehicles for China’s statesmen. Today, Hongqi has gone global, offering an array of premium vehicles. On the top of that list is the elegant e-HS9.

Comparisons with the Rolls-Royce Cullinan are inevitable. PHOTOS BY MANSKEE NASCIMENTO

Designed by Giles Taylor, the man behind the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, it is actually quite evident that he has implemented similar design cues to the e-HS9–but focusing more on sleek and modern rather than boxy and robust. That’s not a bad thing. Overall, the approach is still distinctly Hongqi.

The enormous front grille is highlighted by a red illuminated bar at the center, which symbolizes its country of origin. These red accents can also be seen on the front fenders. From a distance, the Hongqi logo on the center caps of the large 21-inch wheels shod in Michelin Pilot Sport 4 SUV tires can be mistaken for that of Lincoln (as some people whom I came across thought it was).

The infotainment screen extends even to the passenger seat up front. PHOTOS BY MANSKEE NASCIMENTO

Just in case you haven’t caught it, the e-HS9 is a battery-electric vehicle (BEV) in a full-size sport-ute package. The plush cabin is able to generously accommodate six occupants (with first- and second-row Nappa and Alcantara seats being all powered) as this is the top-of-the-line Flagship variant.

All modern infotainment features—including a bevy of driving and parking-assist tech—are found aboard with a large fully digital dash from end-to-end showcasing three separate screens.

More controls are visible on a smaller touchscreen at the bottom of the center console. The start/stop button is actually digital, integrated into said display. So, if you hop right in and want to take off, you won’t find a physical push-start button.

Varied power outlets are strategically located in the cabin, and climate controls are available for front and rear passengers. All amenities considered, I wish they had added ventilated seats for the first and second rows (for obvious reasons).

A cabin fitting for statesmen and dignitaries. PHOTOS BY MANSKEE NASCIMENTO

Since it’s electric, expect power to be instant and satisfying. The 99kWh battery (serving up 441km of range) delivers power to the front and rear electric motors. It comes with a 3kW portable charger that’s perfect for home charging.

Yes, this is all-wheel-drive. Though it tips the scales at 2,705kg, acceleration is brisk with 543hp and 750Nm (supercar figures) sending the hefty SUV from zero to 100km/h in just five seconds. It may weigh like a whale, but it surely can move like a cheetah.

Another feature that I enjoyed was the adjustable air suspension. It has five levels of adjustment depending on what drive mode is selected. You can actually do some light trail runs in Off-Road mode as ground clearance is quite good. Ride quality also firms up, which is understandable.

Of all modes available, Comfort is the sweet spot, offering a magic-carpet ride experience and access to all tech features. Cabin noise is kept to a minimum, and the stock audio system gave justice to every song on my Spotify playlist.

Is P5,980,000 expensive for a Chinese luxury vehicle? PHOTOS BY MANSKEE NASCIMENTO

Whether being driven or chauffeured, the e-HS9 honestly feels like a solid luxury vehicle without going up high in price point. It radiates with a strong presence anywhere you take it. If you seek attention, it will surely get noticed and give off a true sense of class.

Maybe P5,980,000 is a bit too much for some. However, consider every aspect of this vehicle with a proper test drive. It may all eventually make perfect sense to you.

With the long-standing dominance of European badges in the upscale SUV segment, Hongqi might have a real contender here. It’s ready for your perusal, but please don’t bring up geopolitics with how you’d see this ride. That topic belongs in a different room.


EnginePermanent-magnet synchronous motors (front and rear)
TransmissionSingle-speed electric automatic
Dimensions5,209mm x 2,010mm x 1,731mm
Drive layoutAWD
UpsideElegance and strong road presence. A proper luxury electric vehicle.
DownsideStill unfamiliar locally and lacks dealer network.

Manskee Nascimento

Manskee is a music-loving petrolhead who specializes in car care. He finds peace in long drives to and from his home in La Union.