Zeekr X: The $28,000 Luxury Electric Car You'd Rather Be Driving

The Zeekr’s littlest crossover may be a mechanical twin to the Volvo EX30, but they’re nothing alike.

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“It’s kind of like an Oldsmobile in a way, I think, but better executed,” I said to a Geely employee at Beijing’s Goldenport Circuit who was eager to know what I thought about its smallest EV luxury crossover, the Zeekr X. She looked a little puzzled. Then I remembered that I was probably the only person in a 500-kilometer radius who had experience with the defunct American luxury brand’s products.

Heck, I’m pretty comfortable saying that I was probably the only one on a paddock full of British, Chinese, and Malaysian media who probably knew what Oldsmobile was. “Oh, I mean, like it’s a really posh car,” I said.

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There’s no possible way I’d ever be able to do full reviews of the more than 15 new cars Geely had to sample at Goldenport Circuit in Beijing. But, Geely Group’s smallest luxury SUV was another standout, alongside the fantastic Zeekr 007.

Based on the same SEA platform as most of the Geely, Zeekr, and Smart cars on hand to sample, the Zeekr X’s relatively tiny dimensions but plush interior make it feel like such a different product from its platform mates. Also, the Zeekr X is an important model for the brand, since it’s often the second model introduced alongside the Panamera-esque 001 crossover. 

(Full Disclosure: The Zeekr X was tested amid a reporting trip to the Beijing Auto Show, where Geely provided travel and lodging.)

2024 Zeekr X (China-Spec)
As-Tested Price Approximately $27,600 (200,000 CNY)
Battery 66 kWh (net)
EV Range 310 Miles (CLTC)
Maximum torque 400 lb-ft
Output 422 hp
Drive Type dual-motor, AWD
Speed 0-62 MPH 3.8 seconds

Like the Smart #3, Smart #1, and Volvo EX30, the Zeekr X is on the same SEA (Sustainable Experience Architecture) modular platform, specifically a variant called SEA-2. The four cars share a lot under the skin. In China, they all even start at about the same price of roughly $28,000 (200,000 CNY).

There, all three come with the same 51 kWh (Smart and Volvo only), or 69 kWh (gross) battery packs. And yes, because they all share a common platform, the Zeekr X has the same 422 horsepower dual motor AWD setup capable of launching the car from 0-62 MPH (0-100 km/h) in wickedly quick 3.8 seconds.

Yet, I’d argue that most people, including journalists, probably wouldn’t even realize that the four cars are so closely related. It seems like Geely let Mercedes-Benz go nuts styling the Smart versions (it still owns that brand), while Volvo’s team did whatever it wanted creating the EX30.

Likewise, the lead designer for Zeekr, Stefan Sielaff, went his own way. It appears there were no strong engineering or design briefs to be held to, because all three cars look totally different, and share zero body panels, interior pieces, switches, or knobs. They even have different infotainment systems, with Volvo’s being Google Android-based, whereas Zeekr and Smart use in-house solutions made by Geely. 

At about 175 inches long, the crossover is larger than the shockingly diminutive 166.6-inch long Volvo EX30, but it’s still in the not-so-big category for most Americans. It’s about the same size as a Buick Encore GX – an apt point of comparison since they’d be sort of oblique competitors if the Zeekr X ever made it to the United States. 

But just look at the thing. Whereas the Zeekr 007 sedan is sleek, smooth, and flowing, the X embraces its goofy proportions and augments them with odd surface treatments, a somewhat unconventional roofline, unorthodox door shut lines, and vehicle lighting elements. The way the hatchback and rear fascia are resolved is reminiscent of the 2000s era Renault Megane, but the front split grille is almost reminiscent of Oldsmobile, in a strange way. It looks handsome, expensive, and fresh, but also a little bit wild. I like it. 

The Zeekr X’s interior, though, is its pièce de résistance.

Volvo went with pull-style traditional door handles with electronic buttons, Smart’s are retractable similar to the Hyundai Ioniq 5, while most trims of the Zeekr X use a completely electronic door release like the Mustang Mach-E.

As the 007 proved, the Zeekr designers are unafraid of fun materials, especially compared to Polestar, Smart, and Volvo, which all seem to be very much locked into a pre-determined idea of say, Smart’s German Sportswear-inspired style, or Volvo and Polestar’s Scandinavian minimalism. Zeekr went wild; the one I had on test had the same blue and white with rose gold trim combination as the 007 sedan, but the X’s interior is available in other funky colors like purple, or jade green.

Zeekr X Interior

Once again, the 007’s interior feels lush, rich, and relatively expensive for its somewhat moderate price point. Surfaces are soft, and there’s attention to detail often unseen in a car this size or price, like the microfiber Alcantara-like headliner. It's inviting and smooth, especially compared to the sport-oriented interiors of the Smart #1 and #3, or the possibly too pared-down interior of the EX30. It reminds me a lot of my mom’s old 1987 Oldsmobile Delta 88 with its column shift and blue velour interior, but in a way that’s satisfying. 

Oh, and the car’s infotainment screen can slide over to the passenger side with a flick of four fingers on the screen itself. Perhaps it's kind of a gimmick, and I admit the action is kind of awkward, but it’s at least a little cool. I was told that it’s a desirable feature for Chinese buyers, who love screens and in-car media more than we do. Plus, the front-seat passenger will tend to make all of the HVAC and entertainment decisions anyway. This feature is removed for European Zeekr Xs though, the screen will be fixed in place. 

The Zeekr X Floats Like A Butterfly, But Doesn’t Really Sting Like A Bee

Now, I didn’t get as much time with the Zeekr X as I did with the Zeekr 007 – simply one lap around the track both as a driver and a passenger. It was a lead-follow style event, but thankfully the driver in front of us drove with some gusto, so both me and the journalist I was paired with could stretch the Zeekr X’s legs.

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The Zeekr X is a softly sprung car. It’s very tall with seats that don’t have all that much side bolstering to keep a spirited driver in place. It’s not really meant to be a track day special, and boy howdy, does that fact show the second you give the thing the business.

Throw it into a corner, and the thing just plows and understeers surprisingly early, even for a non-sporting subcompact crossover. Accelerate out of a corner, and the car’s traction control tries its hardest to stop all 422 horsepower from absolutely incinerating its tires. The traction control mostly succeeds, but there is a hint of scrub and jitter of all that power attempting to break free while the Zeekr X rockets out of a curve at a disconcertingly high rate of speed.

Still, it felt a little silly to evaluate such a soft car in an on-track context, even if I low-key liked giving such an inappropriate car the full monty. I mean, it would be silly to expect a car like the Buick Encore GX or a Lincoln Corsair to be track weapons, right? After my lap, and a bit of downtime, I drove the Zeekr X out of the paddock and around the private roads that serviced the car and motorcycle dealerships behind the track.

There, I understood the Zeekr X more. There were plenty of sports cars and bikes loudly whizzing around, but the car’s interior remained hushed while Clair de Lune softly played on the stereo. The soft springs absorbed nearly all road imperfections, including big speed bumps. The light steering made quick work maneuvering around the small taste I got of China’s chaotic traffic, where drivers tend to just stop wherever and whenever they want. I understood why some reviewers didn’t care for the Zeekr X’s very soft demeanor, but I also get why some would really like the car’s butter-smooth nature.

The Zeekr X isn’t the perfect car for everyone, not even in China. For some Chinese buyers, the Zeekr X is too small, too pricey and too weird for a market that actually has far more conservative tastes than those outside of China would think. But, it’s the perfect car for a very specific type of person—someone interested in a luxury feel in a small package, but isn’t concerned about lap times or carving up back country roads.

In an ideal world, a car executed on this level would be the perfect Buick Encore GX, a small, quiet, luxury crossover with interesting styling sold to people who might be nearing retirement. And the older I get, the more I realize that there’s nothing wrong with that. 

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