Changan has revealed two new cars, the S7 and SL03, as it continues to grow its latest all-electric brand Deepal. Designed in Italy, these models debut an attractive new design language inspired by the connection between humanity, technology and nature
In July 2022, Changan revealed not only a new brand in Deepal but also a new car, the SL03. This electric sedan introduced a new ‘Symbiotic Aesthetics’ design philosophy that stems from deep consideration of evolving user demographics, societal development and the connection between humanity, technology and nature.
Deepal design director Oliver Samson says this epitomises the brand’s commitment to sustainable development and, in the case of this first model in the portfolio, has resulted in a car that understands its users and can connect on an emotional level. Part of this comes down to the exterior design, which uses a distinctive interactive lighting feature to the clean front fascia. Symbolising civilisation, this light interacts with the user and “initiates communication right from the first gaze.” A Red Dot Award winner in the Product Design category for 2023, the SL03 was praised by judges on various fronts, but in particular the interactive light design of the front end that breaks away from traditional EV layouts.
To build on the success of the SL03, Deepal recently launched its next model, the S7. This electric SUV follows a similar blueprint to the sedan, focussing on sustainable design and adopting a familiar form language on the exterior.
At 4,750mm in length and with a 2,900mm wheelbase, the silhouette is dynamic with short overhangs more typical of a performance vehicle. It also looks planted yet fast with a width of 1930mm and muscular haunches emphasised by surfacing that tapers on the bodyside. Up front, the bonnet dives down into a more upright front mask, balancing SUV proportions with aerodynamic cues typical of future-looking EVs. The roofline slopes gently toward the rear, creating more of a fastback. Changan’s design team says all this creates “a sense of speed, making it an advocate of the era of smart EVs.”
The front grille is minimalist but carries real character, avoiding the polished pebble look that many modern EVs adopt. An X-shape is created by the lower diffuser and fog light surrounds, accented by an attractive constellation of 348 LEDs with upright light bars at either end. “We ingeniously subverted the traditional expressionless front layout of EVs and created one with alternating light and shadows,” the design team explains.
A breakaway from the usual cold design language
At the rear, the taillights span the entire width of the bootlid and wrap into the rear quarter panel, tapering to a point in line with the C-pillar. The lights themselves have been designed to look as though they are “brimming with the energy of meteorite crystals” while the brake light, which sits high on the roof spoiler like a fin, adds an additional layer to the overall aesthetic – creating a horizontal and vertical axis of sorts.
The S7 also continues the theme of “connection” and not only in the modern sense of digitalisation. The S7 is described as an “intelligent and emotional travel partner” that offers more space for families but still packing in technology in an efficient way.
Inside the car, the feeling of connection has been achieved in part through a new dashboard design that steps away from the traditional instrument panel layout. The sketches above illustrate how this came together.
A wide 15.6-inch central display communicates with the driver and passengers and vice versa, bridging the car’s occupants with the outside world and serving as an entertainment centre. The screen uses face-tracking technology and can rotate sideways by up to 15 degrees according to the passenger’s needs and comfort. “You can watch TV, hold meetings, sing karaoke or even apply make up,” says Samson.
The overall interior layout aims to create a feeling of calm and space, helped by the long wheelbase and electric powertrain which frees up room in new areas. A unique floating “sound island” integrates all elements of the audio system within the cabin, while a 360-degree active noise-cancelling surround sound system provides an exceptional audio experience.
The cabin is bright thanks to a panoramic sunroof which almost entirely engulfs the roof, helping users relax and “feel as if they are wandering in a river of stars.” The wide, long armrest draws inspiration from that of a luxury yacht, perhaps underlining the overall approach to comfort and serenity.
New colours have been introduced with the S7 alongside the conventional black, white and greys favoured by most cars today. Ultra Universe Yellow and Blazing Cloud orange aim to stand out from more unassuming models on the road. “As a breakaway from the usual cold design language, Deepal hopes to explore in a gentle and committed way, along with its users, a sustainable future where technology and nature coexist.”
The design development was carried out through a blend of analogue and digital processes, with clay models carefully sculpted to hone the exterior in particular. Changan’s European design centre in Turin, Italy was founded in 2006 and plays a key role within the brand’s global network, with 24-hour design operations and the complete suite of desing operations including CMF, UX/UI, 3D modeling and post-process modelling.