The Li L8 has pretty much done what the Li L9 did at a slightly lower price point.
Are you a big fan of the Li L9 but short a few thousand bucks? Li Auto has you covered with the Li L8 MAX & PRO.
Li Auto's newest Extended Range EV (EREV) the Li L8 has replaced their first, highly successful model the Li ONE.
Following the original formula of the Li ONE, the Li L8 is a mid-sized SUV boasting 6 seats, stuffed full of tech & features for a good value and squarely aimed at the family market. This time around their mid-sized Li L8 aping the flagship Li L9 to an uncanny degree.
Li Auto claims its model line-up will be akin to the iPhone where the same core product is sold at different price points with small variation in tech and features whilst maintaining a lot of the core functionality.
For the first time, Li Auto has moved away from the one trim, one price model used for the Li ONE and their flagship L9, instead favoring a two-tier trim line-up with the Li L8 MAX and the cheaper Li L8 PRO.
What's the difference between the two models? The short answer on the surface is about one lidar, and one rear screen.
The Li L8 MAX is the range-topper coming in at a smidge under ¥400,000 at around $55,200. For that, you get everything the Li L8 offers, which is pretty close to all the things you get in the Li L9.
The cheaper Li L8 PRO drops the price by ¥40,000 to $49,700, losing out on a select few things that the Li L8 MAX has, whilst still retaining nearly all of the same functionality.
All Li L8's come with the same HUD, mini LED steering wheel touchscreen found in the flagship L9, and dual 15.7inch dual touchscreens, although in the Li L8 they are slightly thicker LCD screens compared to the Li L9's OLED units. However, they are 3K resolution like the more expensive Li L9's OLED panels.
The L8 MAX is also equipped with the same dual Snapdragon 8155 CPUs as the Li L9, the Li L8 PRO ditches the rear overhead entertainment screen and makes do with a single 8155 CPU.
However, you'll still be able to plug in a pair of VR glasses into the DP port and mirror the front passenger screen. The Li L8 retains the ToF cameras allowing the same combined voice control and gesture control as the Li L9.
In terms of other differences between the flagship L9 and the new L8 models, there honestly aren't many.
The Li L8 doesn't have the heater/cooler in the second row, nor the vibration motors in the second-row seats for that 4D movie experience. But all Li L8 come standard with Dolby Spatial Audio.
First and second-row seating in the Li L8 have heating, ventilation and massage functions, although the massage is controlled by three airbags similar to the Li ONE instead of the SPA massage function found in the flagship.
A big driver between the split in the price of the Li L8 MAX & PRO comes down to it's ADAS suite and sensor array.
The Li L8 MAX has an ADAS suite handily called AD MAX, if that sounds familiar it's because it's the same ADAS suite found in the Li L9. Meaning the Li L8 MAX's ADAS suite is driven by the same dual Nvidia Orin-X chips delivering 508TOPS.
Its sensor array is also identical, with the same roof-mounted hybrid state lidar from Hesai, six 8MP cameras, two 5MP cameras, 12 ultrasonic radars and a milliwave radar as well.
The Li L8 PRO takes a slightly different approach, ditching the roof mount lidar and going for a "Vision only" ADAS suite named AD PRO. It's powered by a Horizon Robotics Journey 5 chip with 128TOPS. It's sensor array consists of one 8MP camera, nine 2MP cameras, 12 ultrasonic radar and a milliwave radar.
However despite these differences both AD MAX & AD PRO will allow owners to use Li Auto's Navigate on Autopilot features.
Both Li L8's are equipped with 42.8kWh CATL NCM622 battery packs. Basically, a smaller version of the packs found in the larger Li L9. It helps the Li L8 to a said pure EV range of 175km on the WTLP. This is slightly less than the larger Li L9 which manages 180km, but is 25km longer than the outgoing Li ONE which the Li L8 replaces.
Being an EREV the Li L8 is equipped with an "electrical generator." It's the same 154hp 1.5T 4-cylinder found in the Li L9 and will give a better NVH than the Li ONE's outgoing 1.2T 3-cylinder. The engine powers the electrical motors directly in the EREV system and isn't attached to the wheels directly. Meaning that like all EREVs you will retain the instant torque associated with electric motors.
Performance & driving
A common theme, the Li L8 is equipped with the same motors as the Li L9 with the same power outputs. The AWD system has 330kW and 630Nm, allowing the Li L8 to accelerate to 100kph in 5.5 seconds. That's 0.2 seconds slower than the Li L9 but a second faster than the model it replaces.
The suspension consists of double wishbone in the front and 5-link independent suspension in the rear. This is combined with CDC and air suspension.
Again this set-up is identical to that found in the Li L9, so although we didn't get a chance to drive the Li L8. The suspension in the Li L9 provides a really good ride on road, smooth and comfortable, I think it's safe to assume the Li L8 will be identical, except for being 0.2 seconds slower.
The Li L8 and Li L9 are in no way positioned or developed to deliver any sort of engaging or sporty driving dynamics. If you were to be looking for such handling in an SUV you'd definitely be better looking elsewhere. But as far as fulfilling it's brief as a comfortable family cruiser, the suspension and power train do a superb job.
Exterior & Interior
The exterior and interior is almost identical to the Li L9. Li Auto say this is deliberate trying to emulate the iPhone structure, where the core product is more or less identical except for a few changes in chips, screens and size. The Li L8 definitely retains nearly all of the Li L9 functionality.
Exterior wise you still have the over 2 meter uninterrupted LED daylight running light. The only real difference on the exterior other than being slightly smaller than the Li L9 is the rear number plate has been moved lower. However, due to the Li L8 being a smaller vehicle the rear overhang is shorter creating the illusion the rear cabin has been pushed back a little.
The interior is the same story. There's no fridge inside being replaced with a couple of pockets for storage, the LCD screens are thicker than the Li L9's OLED panels, but apart from that it's business as usual.
The same 6 comfortable seats you'll find in the Li L9, a decent amount of legroom in each row, even if slightly less than the Li L9. You do lose the tray table on passenger side but I don't think many will mind.
The Li L8 has pretty much done what the Li L9 did at a slightly lower price point. Sure it's a bit smaller, the screens are thicker, the seats don't have the top SPA massage function.
But just like an iPhone you still have 95 percent of the same functionality as found in its larger sibling. Is this new strategy from Li Auto of basically downsizing its flagship to a different price point going to work? We'll have to wait to see how the market responds.
This review is done by ChinaDriven, which creates content about Chinese EVs on YouTube & Twitter.