When you think of wildly impractical doors, what sort of car do you imagine? Is it some sort of low-slung European surface-to-surface missile capable of dropping jaws from San Francisco to Shanghai? Perhaps a Countach, an Enzo, or a P1? Well get ready to reset those expectations. Welcome to the Dongfeng eπ 007, an electrified Chinese midsize sedan with available doors that go up.
If you haven’t heard of Dongfeng, don’t worry. This brand has primarily focused on Chinese customers, but it’s been around longer than you might imagine. Back in 1969, the Chinese government decided to found a vehicle factory in what was then the middle of nowhere. True mass production didn’t quite kick off until 1975, with the Dongfeng EQ240 six-wheeled military truck, but from there, things steadily grew up until China’s 21st century boom, when sales really took off.
Sure, eπ 007 is an exceedingly strange name for a car, but it might make a tiny bit more sense when you realize that eπ was originally imagined as a luxury spin-off. Instead of going full Lexus, Dongfeng decided to keep the brand under its umbrella, resulting in the eπ name. However, just because the eπ 007 is positioned as a luxury car doesn’t mean it’s expensive.
This Camry-sized sedan starts at a mere 159,000 yuan, or about $22,099. That’s in the ballpark of Hyundai Elantra money, although that’s only the start. Customers have three all-electric powertrains, one BMW i3-like extended range electric powertrain, and either normal or vertical doors to choose from. Let’s run through those powertrain choices, starting with the slowest one.
That aforementioned extended range electric powertrain features a 1.5-liter gasoline engine of unspecified output as a generator, a 160 kW electric motor, and a 28.39 kWh battery pack. Donfeng’s claiming EV range of 124 miles on the optimistic CLTC cycle and a total cruising range of 745 miles, the latter of which should more than make up for this extended range electric vehicle being the three-toed sloth of the model lineup. Granted, slow is still relative, with the EREV still sporting a claimed zero-to-62 mph in 7.2 seconds.
Yep, the Dongfeng eπ 007 gets much quicker than that once you switch over to full electric power. The entry-level EV drivetrain marries a 160 kW motor with a 56.86 kWh battery pack for a claimed 329 miles of CLTC range and a quoted zero-to-62 mph time of 6.8 seconds. Next up the range is another rear-wheel-drive model, this time with a 70.26 kWh battery pack and a 200 kW electric motor. This one should return 385 miles of CLTC range and a respectable zero-to-62 mph time of 5.8 seconds. That’s not bad. Top of the heap? Dual motors with a combined 400 kW output, the same battery pack as the mid-spec EV model, a CLTC range of 335 miles, and a zero-to-62 mph time of 3.9 seconds. Now that’s more like it.
Oh, and then there are the billionaire doors. They aren’t available on the base model, but pop for the mid-spec or top-spec electric powertrain, and they become roughly a $3,100 option. It’s an insane thing to see on a family sedan outside the context of “Pimp My Ride,” but ticking a $3,100 option box to make a midsize sedan less practical is wild and wonderful. Most people would never tick the box, but like the dedicated four-seat option on the sixth-generation Maxima, a factory option to make a midsize sedan worse as a midsize sedan generally makes it better as an intriguing car. It’s paradoxical, but the Dongfeng eπ 007 nails it.
Of course, it also helps that Dongfeng appears to have met the luxury brief inside the eπ 007. The upper dashboard is covered in stitched textile, the steering wheel features a dual-tone finish like a Bentley, the digital gauge cluster is motorized like the one on a McLaren 720S, and the main infotainment screen is a massive 15.6-inch display powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8155 octo-core processor.
Even some of the details are intriguing, like the chromed toggle switches for the power windows, the 50-watt wireless smartphone charging array, and illuminated trim etching that feels very Y2K futurist in a good way. Available equipment includes a 20-speaker stereo, massaging front seats, and remote-controlled parking, some considerably upmarket stuff.
Of course, don’t expect to see the Dongfeng eπ 007 in North America, but revel in the fact that somewhere in the world, someone is likely putting down a deposit on a sedan with vertical doors. It’s a deeply silly thing, which is why we’re glad it exists. After all, cars often get more fun when they make less sense.
(Photo credits: Dongfeng)
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