This Chinese Military-Inspired SUV Has An Optional $14,000 Drone

Dongfeng – a Chinese state-owned automaker founded in 1969 – isn’t exactly popular in the United States. In fact, the company doesn’t have a single model on sale here but we have found a vehicle that might be very fitting for the SUV-hungry US market. Meet the M-Hero 917, the GMC Hummer’s younger but more sinister brother from another mother.

Let’s start with a little background first. M-Hero (or Mengshi which roughly translates to “fierce warrior”) is a high-end off-road brand owned by Dongfeng and the 917 is its range-topping model. It was unveiled last year but it took the manufacturer several months until it got production permission from the Chinese authorities. It finally hit the assembly lines in April this year and our friends and colleagues from Wheelsboy recently got the chance to film the off-roader.

Gallery: M-Hero 917

From the outside, the 917 looks as if it’s been designed with a kitchen knife – not a single curve can be seen through the body. The black matte finish and rugged bumper make it look almost like a military machine. While that’s not the case, it’s important to note that the SUV sits on a body-on-frame chassis and has a capable powertrain under the hood.

On the Chinese market, M-Hero offers two different powertrain options for the off-roader. There’s a fully electric version with four electric motors and a massive 140-kilowatt-hour NMC battery. The vehicle featured in the video at the top of this page has a range-extender hybrid system that uses a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-pot as a generator. It feeds a 66-kWh battery pack and three electric motors with a system output of 816 horsepower. That’s enough for a 0-62 miles per hour acceleration in six seconds flat.

These are all impressive numbers but they are nothing compared to the 917’s standard and optional equipment. For starters, the machine has interior door handles that are reminiscent of the Desert Eagle pistol. The two levers on the center console look like aircraft throttles and control the vehicle’s transmission and driving modes. There are three screens on the dashboard – a digital instrument cluster, a navigation screen, and a passenger infotainment screen.

The best part has to be the optional drone package, which costs $14,000 and includes an actual drone that can be voice-controlled from inside the car. And lest we forget, there’s also a switchable rear steering system, which gives the SUV the capability of doing the so-called crab walk. See more in the video.

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