The overwhelming sense from Auto China 2018 is that of a nation’s industry that has seemingly closed the gap with western manufacturers in terms of design, technology and environmental consciousness. I could be recounting my impressions from any show in the world when I discuss the plethora of SUVs, electric vehicles and hybrids on display.
Particularly impressive, right at the top end of the market, was the Vision Maybach Ultimate Luxury: This 4-dr coupe SUV offered Mercedes-Benz’s vision of, yes, that’s right, ultimate luxury- and it’s hard to argue against that luxury once you’ve taken in the quality of materials used and the craftsmanship on offer.
Further down the scale but no less impressive was the MG X-Motion concept; a well-resolved SUV concept, due to sire production versions for an MG dealer near you in the future. The illuminated badge is an old BMC trick too, so I wonder if the feature traces its lineage back to that, or whether it’s a genuine, new inspiration from the design team…The rich red colour is also indicative of the brand’s continued sporting intentions and was mirrored on every car on the MG stand. Now part of the SAIC group, MG is a stablemate of the Roewe brand, which had its own, perhaps more luxury-focused SUV to reveal in the Marvel X.
Geely Group, China’s largest car manufacturer by sales, was also in on the SUV act with the imposing Concept Icon. Building on underpinnings shared with its Volvo brand, it’s a perfect statement of intention, combining bold design language and an up-to-the-minute EV powertrain.
Great Wall Motors, with its Haval and Wey brands, demonstrated a very sophisticated feel from the stand décor to the models on show. Haval, China’s SUV market leader for the past 15 years, launched two new SUV’s at the show. The F5 model will appeal to a younger, more dynamic audience with its sporty styling and intelligent safety features. Whilst the H6 is designed with a family-orientated feel.
Leading the charge at Great Wall Motors’ premium Wey brand, was the Concept X SUV boasting dihedral doors, an EV powertrain, level 5 autonomy and even a holographic, in-car assistant!
Japan’s Infiniti showcased its EV plans with the Q Inspiration Concept; a model intended to herald future sales success and the development of a completely new EV platform for China and beyond, within the next five years. Most striking for me was the ultra-elegant styling, housing dramatic suicide doors.
Perhaps more familiar, it was great to see the Ford Focus launch into the Chinese Market. In its fourth generation, and in its twentieth year, the model remains true to its original aim of combining practicality, style and an outstanding driving experience for the mass market.
Finally, it was very encouraging to see the interest generated by the Chinese debut of the McLaren Senna. It wasn’t too many years ago that this kind of car would have been seen as an irrelevance in a market fixated on 3-box saloons. Not so any more!