Have you heard of companies called BAIC, Great Wall, Brilliance, Qoros or Guangzhou? Okay, how about Chery, Dongfeng or Geely? You’ve probably guessed by now that they are Chinese brands and something to do with cars. That’s right, they’re all manufacturers from the world’s most populated country, home to over 1.35 billion. Most people have heard of Swedish car maker Volvo, which is actually now owned by Chinese firm Geely. Everything about China is huge and cars are a big thing there, especially for the people who can afford them. Here’s what has caught our attention from the Beijing Motor Show 2016, which ran from April 25th to May 4th.
Stretching is the way to go
Businesspeople in the world’s largest car market love their motors to be supersized, particularly if they employ a chauffeur. Overlooking the more obvious limousines from brands like Bentley, our neighbours in Crewe, the trend at Beijing 2016 seems to be for companies to stretch their existing models into long wheelbase (LWB) versions. Here are some examples.
BMW X1 Li (79mm longer)
Jaguar XFL (140mm longer)
Mercedes E-Class LWB (134mm longer)
Audi A4 L (40mm longer)
Non-Chinese cars only sold in China
Every market has its own little quirks and tastes, which is definitely true for China. Mainstream car manufacturers want to sell products that people who live in various countries will actually want to buy – and it’s often the case that models which ‘flopped’ in Europe do really well in countries like China. What’s in the pipeline?
In Europe, we already get the absolutely excellent CX-3 and CX-5 crossover SUVs and now China is getting the coupe-like CX-4, styled after the Koeru concept.
If you’re a car buff, you may know about the C6, Citroen’s very randomly-styled luxury saloon car that nobody in the UK really bought but that’s often talked of as one of the coolest cars of its kind. Well Citroen has decided to revive the C6 name for a large saloon it will sell in China only.
Now no longer part of the Citroen group, the upmarket DS brand stands on its own. Designed in France and built in China, the DS 4S has exclusive front and rear lights, bumpers, exhausts and paint schemes for the Chinese market. Unsurprisingly, it offers more legroom than the DS4 does in other markets and the interior has been made even posher for China.
Important cars the world will get
New Renault Koleos
In my view, the original Koleos crossover SUV from Renault looked boring and awkward. Renault has announced that the name will be brought back with the new one, based on the Nissan X-Trail, so it’s set to be much better in both design and the way it performs.
Volkswagen T-Prime Concept GTE
If the next generation VW Touareg SUV looks closely like this, we’ll be delighted. With futuristic exterior styling and an equally ground-breaking interior including gesture-control technology and a touchpad steering wheel, a hybrid option is likely to be part of the mix.
Audi TT RS
It might still be one of the babies of Audi’s bunch in size terms, but when it comes to performance, the 396bhp TT RS will be almost as amazing as the R8 supercar and the styling has been tweaked so it looks sportier than ever. It’ll be on sale in the UK from October 2016 as a coupe and roadster.
Let’s not forget Chinese cars
Sidestepping the copycat cars China is famous for creating, which look more or less identical to models on sale in Europe and the US, we can’t finish our Beijing Motor Show 2016 roundup without picking our highlights from the Chinese manufacturers.
Changjiang EV eCool
A diddy electric car for a crowded nation, the eCool has an electric range of around 125 miles and will appeal to plenty of people thanks to its chunky and high-up design. The interior’s a bit plain but is livened up by a massive touchscreen tablet on the dashboard. eCool can be bought in two sizes, the largest being around 4m long.
As in other markets such as America, some Chinese drivers just can’t resist big and brash and this vehicle sums it all up. Priced just over £1,250,000 and measuring 6 metres in length, the diamond/rock design is breath-taking, although perhaps more out of disbelief than anything. Customers can tailor the interior to exactly how they would like it to be. It sounds like only ten will be sold and the IAT Kalman will be powered by a 6.8-litre V10 engine.
Geely Emgrand GS
From the owners of Volvo, this compact SUV may not look particularly special but will no doubt be snapped up like £1 Justin Bieber tickets, as this kind of car is what most of the world wants, including China. A plugin hybrid version may be produced in time, but for now, buyers can choose from modest 1.3-litre or 1.8-litre engines.