Maxus MIFA 9 Electric Review: A Brilliant Coup
I think nowhere else but in Asia do people really get the concept of a luxury MPV.
Just look at our hotel lobbies - while one may find Volkswagen Transporters in Europe or Ford Transits in America, we are chock-full of Alphards and Vellfires.
And it really makes so much sense. The space and the great vantage point paired together with cabin refinement that’s more akin to a bank vault - why not?
Bring electric power to the segment - for the first time
But these heavy cars have always been paired with gas guzzling naturally aspirated petrol engines (or even anaemic, if they’re smaller in displacement), or efficient but dull hybrid drivetrains. Until now.
The MIFA 9 is fully electric, which makes it the first of its kind. Basically, it’s staging some sort of a coup, and my word, it really succeeds.
Electric power is beautifully paired to the large 7-seater chassis. The 350 Nm of instantaneous torque works well to overcome the car’s weight and the silent drivetrain pairs well with the luxury slant of the vehicle. It feels effortless, which is already one up from its slightly lumbering competitors.
A well-rounded proposition
But it is all for nothing if it is just an electric alternative and not much else. However, the MIFA 9 impresses on other fronts as well.
Let’s start with the looks. Its clean and elegant design is all sophistication and zero pretentiousness. It’s self-confident and makes a statement for being inoffensive and attractive at the same time. Being built ground-up as an EV, there’s a frunk underneath the front bonnet.
Stepping inside, the cabin design is incredibly well thought out. Although devoid of buttons, essentials like climate control remain as physical adjustments (I wouldn’t call them buttons, because they aren’t). The 7-inch screen in front of the steering wheel gives vital information in a no-nonsense and legible fashion. The 12.3-inch centre infotainment screen is proprietary software and, while reasonably easy to use, it can be a bit laggy.
Special mention must be made about the seats, which are swathed in soft leather and are amazingly comfortable. For the centre row there are individual ‘pilot’ seats, which are ventilated and come with massage functions. They can even be reclined together with a full-sized footrest. Thoughtfully, the pilot seats come with their very own charging points (and accompanying phone holder), a 220V power outlet and foldable cup holders.
The third row is usable for adults even with the second row reclined, while there is reasonable luggage space even with all seats used. This is what I’d call a full-sized MPV that has a third row that can genuinely be used without compromising on boot space severely.
As a whole, the MIFA 9 is incredibly well-equipped, with highlights like dual sunroofs, ambient lighting that stretches across the headliner, a respectable JLB sound system and a 360-degree parking camera.
Pretty decent to drive, too
Now you would think an MPV like this would prioritise passengers over the driver. But there is a strange delight in piloting the MIFA 9. I think it’s down to how comfortable it is, while being competent around corners and also rather peppy (0-100 km/h in 9.2 seconds). Maxus has fitted the MIFA 9 with Macpherson front struts and sophisticated multi-link rear suspension, so it’s definitely a premium setup underneath.
It’s the sort of car that’s made for grand journeys across great distances, and for a road trip junkie like myself it’s exactly what I like. Range clocks in at a respectable 435 km based on official figures.
An impressive effort, this
The MIFA 9 is a new entrant into the market but already feels like it can make its competitors break out some sweat.
There are some minor adjustments that would be welcome in future updates, including a more responsive infotainment system and less intrusive driver assistance systems. But as a whole, the MIFA 9 is a stunning achievement and yet another reason why we should take electric cars from China very seriously indeed.
Photos by New Gen Marketing
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