At the Shanghai motor show, some of the biggest manufacturers you’ve never heard of are displaying their newest models alongside familiar Western brands keen to crack the world’s most lucrative automotive market.
Long gone are the days when Shanghai was an exhibition of the most blatant copycat cars, and the impressive quality of new Chinese creations is beginning to pose a very real threat to more established manufacturers. The 2019 edition is especially significant, with an increasing number of Chinese models being prepared for European launches and global manufacturers such as Volkswagen adding to their range of models adapted specifically for sale in China.
Here, we take a look at the most important unveilings.
Aston Martin Rapide E
Aston Martin is aiming the new Rapide E electric performance saloon squarely at the Tesla Model S and Porsche Taycan.
A claimed torque output of 738lb ft will help the Rapide E to sprint from 50mph-70mph in under 1.6 seconds, and the model can cruise at its 155mph top speed for 10 straight minutes.
Aston Martin Rapide E: new details of electric super-saloon
Audi AI:ME concept
Audi has unveiled its new AI:ME concept as "an automated driving compact car for the megacities of tomorrow". Like the radical Aicon and Elaine duo revealed in 2017, the concept looks ahead “10 or 15 years”, according to company design boss Marc Lichte.
The electric concept explores “what an interior with or without a steering wheel can look like” and will be followed by another futuristic concept at Frankfurt in September.
Futuristic Audi AI:ME concept hints at Volkswagen ID rival
Audi Q2 L e-tron
Audi’s China-only long-wheelbase Q2 L is the latest model to receive the e-tron treatment. Badged the Q2 L e-tron, the electric compact SUV will be built in Foshan, alongside Chinese variants of the A3 Sportback and A3 Saloon, by Volkswagen Group partner First Automotive Works (FAW).
The model is the first of ten planned for launch by Audi and FAW in China by 2022 and the first electric Audi tailored specifically for the Chinese market.
2019 Audi E-tron Sportback previewed at Geneva
BMW 3 Series LWB
Audi isn't the only German brand taking an extended version of one of its newest models to China.
The new BMW 3 Series has been adapted for the Chinese market, and will be on display in long-wheelbase 3 Series L form. Almost as long as the 5 Series available in Europe, the new model has been developed alongside the standard 3 Series, and will be built by BMW's Chinese partner company Brilliance Automotive.
BYD hybrid supercar
A preview image released by Chinese company BYD shows off a sleek, low sports car with a prominent greenhouse-style cabin and performance-inspired design elements.
Little is known about the model's powertrain, but Chinese media reports that a four-wheel drive variant would likely use a 2.0-litre petrol engine coupled to an electric motor for a combined output of 469bhp.
Faraday Future MPV
EV start-up Faraday Future has yet to launch its first effort, the FF91, but will be previewing a second production model in Shanghai.
Previewed in silhouette form, the V9 is a China-only electric MPV being developed in partnership with a Chinese mobile gaming company.
Volvo and Lotus owner Geely will show its GE11 electric saloon in Shanghai ahead of the model’s European launch later this year.
To be sold under the newly formed Geely New Energy marque, the fastback-styled EV has been designed with aerodynamic efficiency in mind. The Chinese company states that the model’s environmentally conscious ethos doesn’t end with its zero-emissions powertrain; its interior is constructed largely of EU-certified eco-friendly materials.
Geely Jia Ji
Also on display in Shanghai will be Geely’s first MPV, the Jia Ji.
Recently unveiled in Zhuhai, the seven-seater is offered with a range of hybrid and diesel powertrains, Level 2 autonomy, dynamic styling and a starting price of just RMB 99,800 (£11,200).
Geely’s third Shanghai debut-maker will be the Xingyue SUV-coupé.
Originally known as the FY11, the BMW X6 rival sits atop the same Compact Modular Architecture that also underpins the Volvo XC40 and Lynk&Co 01. It will offer a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine – producing 235bhp and 258lb ft – and a range of plug-in and mild hybrid powertrains.
Infiniti QS Inspiration
Despite Infiniti's recent announcement that it is pulling out of Western Europe, it is pressing on with plans for an electrified model line-up.
The QS Inspiration concept, on display for the first time in Shanghai, previews an upcoming sports saloon "inspired by the art and modern architecture of Japan". Like the QX Inspiration revealed earlier this year, it will sit atop the firm's bespoke EV platform, and boast a stylish, minimalist interior, which will be clearly divided into separate passenger and driver zones.
Jetta is the new China-only budget brand being launched by Volkswagen this year, and the VS5 and VA3 will be among its first models.
Taking the form of a conventional five-door SUV, the VS5 bears a heavy resemblance to the recently unveiled Skoda Kamiq, while the VA3 is a small saloon based on the Volkswagen Jetta that's currently sold in China. The brand aims to target younger buyers with a strong dealer network and online showrooms.
Volkswagen turns Jetta into standalone brand for China
Karma, born out of the 2014 collapse of Fisker Automotive, will unveil an as-yet-unnamed luxury model designed in association with Italian design house Pininfarina.
The Chinese-funded, US-based electric car manufacutrer is remaining tight-lipped about the model’s specifications and performance, but a recently released preview image shows off an angular, streamlined front end and a prominent lower grille like that of the original Fisker Karma.
Karma teases Pininfarina-designed electric luxury car
Joining the new Pininfarina-designed concept on Karma’s Shanghai stand will be the updated-for-2020 version of the brand’s Revero luxury saloon.
The four-door range-extender electric car will use a three-cylinder petrol engine from BMW. It's tipped to receive styling revisions but retain an overarching resemblance to the Fisker Karma, from which is was developed. Karma has plans to launch the new Revero in Europe as a competitor to the Polestar 1 performance hybrid.
New Karma Revero plug-in hybrid saloon tests in Europe
Rounding off Karma’s ‘Shanghai Big Three’ will be the Vision concept.
Little is known about what form the Vision will take, but Karma said it will play a role in the brand’s transformation from a traditional car manufacturer into “an open-platform luxury high-tech automotive incubator”, like the Italdesign DaVinci electric supercar revealed earlier this year at the Geneva motor show.
Codenamed E315, the latest effort from Jiangling Motors brand Landwind is a stylish compact SUV that will go up against the likes of the Volvo XC60, Lynk&Co 01 and Haval H6.
Details remain scarce, but the E315 is expected to have five seats and make use of the same 1.5-litre Ford-derived unit that powered Landwind's Range Rover Evoque copycat, the X7, which has just been forcibly discontinued.
Taking the form of an SUV-coupé, the Geely-owned Lynk&Co brand's fifth model is a BMW X6 rival based on its 01.
It will sit atop the Volvo-developed CMA platform and will likely use the Swedish company's range of 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre petrol engines. A European launch is likely but unconfirmed.
Lynk&Co tests fifth model in run-up to European launch
Mercedes' new small SUV will sit between the current GLC and GLA models, and will take on rivals like the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Volvo XC40.
Styling across the GLB range will be influenced by the more utilitarian G-Class, while a range-topping GLB 35 variant, spotted testing recently, will pack the same 302bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine as AMG's A35 hot hatchback.
Mercedes-Benz GLB previewed ahead of Shanghai debut
Mini Clubman facelift
The Mini Clubman has been on sale in its current form since 2015, and will show off a mid-life refresh in Shanghai.
Expect very subtle styling updates in line with those bestowed upon its hatchback sibling last year, trim revisions and minor upgrades to the interior options list.
Chinese electric vehicle start-up Nio is remaining tight-lipped about the new ET7 that it's taking to Shanghai.
A preview image shows off a saloon-style body with a coupé-like sloping roofline, in the same vein as the Tesla Model S and upcoming Porsche Taycan. The model will be on display alongside the company's EP9 electric supercar, EVE autonomous concept and ES6 and ES8 SUVs.
Porsche Cayenne Coupé
Making its international motor show debut in Shanghai will be Porsche's latest SUV - the Cayenne Coupé.
Going up against the BMW X6 and Mercedes-Benz GLE, the rakish high-rider features an active rear spoiler, interior technology from the larger Cayenne and a top speed of up to 178mph.
Porsche Cayenne Coupe: new BMW X6 rival revealed
Based on the Kwid SUV Renault already sells in India, the electric City K-ZE is a production-ready evolution of a concept first shown in Paris last year.
The value EV is headed to China first, given the country's exploding demand for electric cars, before a potential European launch.
Renault to show production-ready City K-ZE EV at Shanghai
Volkswagen ID Roomzz
The largest member of Volkswagen’s ID range of electric vehicles so far (above the hatchback, Buzz, Crozz and Vizzion), the Roomzz concept is a luxurious seven-seater SUV, sitting atop the largest version of the company’s MEB platform.
A pair of electric motors give the Touareg-sized model 302bhp and part-time four-wheel drive. Range is a claimed 370 miles, which is a significant improvement over its primary rival, the Tesla Model X.
Volkswagen Roomzz concept previews 2021 Model X rival
A four-door electric saloon set to rival Tesla's Model 3, Xpeng's new model will boast coupé-like styling and a range of more than 311 miles according to China's NEDC-based tests.
There are currently no details on what drivetrain the P7 will use, but it is likely to share an electric motor and battery with the company's G3, an Audi Q5-sized SUV that develops 195bhp for a 0-62mph time of 7.9sec.
China's Xpeng previews new Tesla Model 3 rival
Lynk&Co 01 PHEV review
Karma partners with Pininfarina for product development
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