can the Leapmotor T03 damage the Dacia Spring?

Dacia Spring has a new competitor, like this one, from China. And he didn’t come here to suffer… uh… to make a simple figuration.

A new Chinese brand will arrive at the beginning of 2023 in the Old Continent, it is a start-up with the sweet name of Leapmotor. No, it’s true, this name is not particularly harmonious to the ear, the name of the very first model in which it made its debut in France even less, it was the city car T03. But remember them both, because this electric city car can be talked about. It must be said that it does not lack arguments on paper against its designated competitor, the Dacia Spring…

Style: a rather inspired T03, both literally and figuratively…

We cannot say that the design of the Leapmotor T03 is particularly inspired. But the Dacia Spring either, although since the recent restyling incorporating the new logo has given it a bit more character. But since we’re talking about inspiration, we can’t help but think of the Smart Forfour when observing the T03’s lines, especially in profile. We’re not into pure and hard plagiarism as some Middle Kingdom brands know how to do it well, but in reference it’s a little more subtle. No, it is not particularly original but it is modern in appearance and does not stand out in the French automotive landscape. A bit like Spring. Those who prefer soft and clean lines will choose the new one, those who prefer backpackers and slightly raised cars will go to the Sino-Romanian. Flavor and color, they say…

Interior: the more up-to-date Spring

Inside, there is no match. Basically, who says Dacia says basic interior. But, in recent years, it is clear that the Romanian brand has made a great effort to distance its cars from the low value. Duster II took a great step forward, the latest Sandero even moved away from, for example, fabric to decorate the dashboard. Alas, there is always an exception to the rule, and that is Spring. The outdated design and the basic materials only go back ten years… minimum.

It’s night and day with the Leapmotor interior, not as original as the line, but infinitely more modern. Digital counter, large touch screen (probably placed a bit low, to be reviewed), black lacquered veneers, cloth storm doors, looks more rewarding, more contemporary and looks better finished (also to be reviewed there).

It remains to be seen which of the two is the most pleasant to live with on a daily basis. Without riding the T03, we’ll be content with the technical data. If the Spring has one quality, it’s its good size/livability ratio with ample space in the back and a generous 270-litre boot for a vehicle of just 3.73 m. Shorter by 11 cm, the Leapmotor should be less roomy. This is already felt in the trunk volume of only 210 liters. Just sit back and take our meter to decide between them with this plan. That’s for later. The T03’s compactness should at least benefit it in urban centers.

Motorization: a more versatile Leapmotor T03

Exactly, we come to the technical part. It is at this particular point that Spring loses some feathers. Although it recently received a new, more powerful version that generates about 65 hp (compared to 44 hp for the basic model), the T03 will undoubtedly be better with its 109 hp. If its maximum speed is limited to 130 km/h (125 km/h for Spring), it takes almost 2 seconds less to complete the exercise from 0 to 100 km/h: 12 s against 13.7 s for Dacia.

It should also be more versatile with a higher battery capacity: 41.3 kWh against just 26.8 kWh. In the WLTP mixed cycle, the difference is not obvious at 280 km for the Leapmotor, 220 km for the Spring. But in the city, where it will mainly be used, the T03 can only be recharged every 417 km. 305 km of Spring is not ridiculous but they are less…

Price: a cheaper Spring but…

And yet, icing on the cake, the Leapmotor isn’t that much more expensive. The only version rich in equipment in the catalog (air conditioning, 10.1″ touch screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, reversing camera, fixed panoramic roof but, it is original, only 2 airbags) costs €25,990. Only one option is offered, metallic paint at a price of 490 €. So yes, the Spring starts at €20,800 but has a small 44 hp engine. For the 65 hp version, it is a minimum of €22,300. There is no doubt that if there is a Spring that generates 109 hp, its price is not too far from the T03. Maybe even higher. Excellent price/performance ratio for something new. It remains to be seen what its value is on the road but, in general, Spring has a lot to do.

So yes, nobody knows Leapmotor, but cheap Chinese cars are starting to interest French buyers. MG is proof of that. And, as far as the network is concerned, the T03 can be ordered from around fifty dealerships. Dacia is clearly doing better thanks to the power of the Renault team, but we have seen worse at the beginning. The full list of distributors should be shared by the end of the first quarter of 2023. The T03 is already available for sale. At the moment, there is no national site (nor should it be long), communication is done only through local campaigns. In other words, if you see an advertisement on Facebook and you are interested in this zero-emission city car, save all the information…

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