Wednesday 22 November 2017

Eastern promise has car makers using China as new launch pad

Volume and breadth of vehicles being shown at Beijing over the weekend marks yet another shift in the motoring spectrum, writes Eddie Cunningham

Daimler Concept
Daimler Concept
VW Golf
The Audi concept
Mini All4 Paceman
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

As such, it merely reflects how central the Chinese market has become as it expands at a phenomenal rate.

Beijing may not match Geneva and the other European and US shows yet. But, increasingly, car makers are using it to roll out world debuts or indications of where they are going with new lines.

Volkswagen had a number of unveils while Audi, Mercedes and Lexus also had models being shown for the first time.

What we don't hear about quite as much are the larger number of cars being shown that will be made for, and sold only on, the Chinese market.

But for vehicles of global appeal one of the most talked about was Audi's offroad compact 4dr SUV plug-in hybrid all-wheel-drive concept. It is likely to carry the TT name in some shape or form when, as anticipated, it is made in two years – most likely the TT-Q. It could mean the TT becomes a family of models.

Volkswagen showed off its R400, a 395bhp 3dr concept based on the Golf. It builds on the recent Golf R and is seen as a rival for the much anticipated Audi RS3.

The R400 uses a more powerful version of the Golf R's 2-litre direct injection 4cyl turbocharged engine (it has 99bhp more).

It also previewed the NMC (New Midsize Coupe) concept, which is regarded as a competitor for the popular Mercedes CLA.

The tweaked Touareg was also shown.

Mercedes revealed what its upcoming MLC sports utility will look like when it rolled out the high-riding Concept Coupe SUV.

Expect to see this M-Class based motor late next year as a direct rival to the new BMW X6.

The cabin is much different than the M-Class and the rear is much more like the stunning S-Class Coupe shown at Geneva.

BMW, meanwhile, rolled out the Vision Future Luxury, which previews what the next 7-series will look like.

It does not pave the way for a 9-series flagship as has been widely reported. The new 7-series is expected late next year.

MINI has tweaked two of its models. It showed the facelifted Countryman in New York and added a revamped Paceman at Beijing.

And there will be a Lamborghini SUV by 2018, according to reports.

It is being developed by Audi in parallel with a stream of SUVs which includes the new Bentley SUV, the next Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q7.

All will share an architecture and major components.

Land Rover showed its Discovery (highlighted in last week's Motors) in Beijing after choosing New York as its debut show.

Hyundai unveiled its ix25 small SUV concept and it looks like it will go on sale in Europe despite initial expectations it would only be sold in China.

And Lexus formally revealed its NX compact crossover which we showed you last week as well.

Indo Motoring

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