The Shanghai Auto Show was a festival of lights and sounds. Maserati introduced the Ghibli, Bugatti rolled out the new Grand Sport Vitesse and Porsche’s Panamera came in hybrid and regular flavors. However all the news wasn’t from the high-end automakers; Ford slipped out an Escort concept which was quite attractive.
However, the big news was from the Chinese brands and China’s growing appetite for larger, more stylish cars. Some of the hometown favorites made big news for presenting cars that had a more international appeal and could very well have a stand at NAIAS in just a few more years.
Chery showed off the streamlined Beta 5 concept for their new small SUV. The Beta 5 is to debut in about a year. The concept is striking and let’s hope that the production model is not too far from it.
Chery continues its strange naming system with the @Ant, a two-seat electric car designed to find others like it on the road and link up, forming a “road train” to deliver better fuel efficiency.
Geely (who owns Volvo) has come to the party with the Emgrand EX8; a seven-seat concept crossover that produces 150 horsepower.
Icona is a Shanghai-based design and engineering consultancy. They added some supercar intrigue to the Shanghai motor show and drew some much needed press with the unveiling of its 950-hp gasoline-electric hybrid powered Vulcano concept. The car has quickly gained billing as China’s new Ferrari. If you put a Lexus LF- A, a Chevrolet Corvette and a Ferrari F12 in a blender, the Vulcano is what would come out. It’s no small coincidence that the man behind the car’s technical aspects is Claudio Lombardi, who previously worked in Ferrari’s powertrain division; impressive for a car that is yet to turn a wheel in anger. There’s no denying the Vulcano’s attention-grabbing properties. Just don’t ask about pedigree …
The Besturn B90 is based on the Mazda 6 which is made in China by the FAW-Mazda joint venture. Engines come from Mazda as well: 2.0 with 146hp and a 2.5 with 169hp, mated to a 6-speed manual or a 5-speed automatic. The B90 is a clean looking car with concept-like head-lights, Besturn’s best vehicle up until now. Their next venture is an SUV, based on the Mazda 6 as well.
No Chinese auto show would be complete without a reference to FAW Hongqi (Red Flag)., one of the oldest nameplates in the country and at one time, the only brand for the domestic political elite. Hangqui’s L7 has a V12 engine located behind the brazen 1950’s style front end. The 6.0-liter mill is said to produce between 400 and 500 horses. The Hangqi was shown in L5 (standard length), L7 (long-wheelbase) and L9 (extended limousine) variants. The Hongqi has a line of full-size luxury sedans based on the running gear of the Chinese market Toyota Crown. The H7 is described as Hongqi’s answer to the long-wheelbase versions of the BMW 5-Series or Bentley. FAW also announced plans to invest 1.67 billion in the next five years to reshape Hongqi and develop a new lineup of four models including two SUVs. The cars have been crowd magnets at Chinese auto shows for years, but remain a rarity on the street. The modern Chinese leader prefers an Audi. Price for the L7? Between 942,000 and 1.25 million U. S. dollars.
The Buick Riviera Concept was big news, but the bigger news is that China has a burgeoning Auto Industry that has influences from around the world while maintaining its origins. These were just a few cars shown in Shanghei this year. Be on the lookout for more news from the Middle Kingdom.