While Western brands stole the show in Beijing, there were still some Chinese manufacturers with some really stand-out cars for the domestic market
Andrew Frankel Autocar
21 April 2014

The 2014 Beijing motor show might have featured headline acts from Western brands, but domestic manufacturers have also shown off their latest wares.

While cars from the likes of Fengshen and BYD aren't going to shake Peugeot and Volkswagen from our front pages just yet, there are still a number of models worth keeping an eye on. Here's our round-up of the best domestic or China-only models at the Beijing show.

Bejing Auto Senova D50

Saab has returned to a life of sorts with the reveal of the 9-3 based Beijing Auto Senova D50. Beijing’s parent company BAIC bought the rights to both the 9-3 and 9-5 designs from General Motors in 2009. The D50 is a conventional three box saloon, reclad entirely to reveal nothing of its Swedish/American origins. Power is provided by just one engine at launch, a normally-aspirated 1.5-litre petrol motor made in China by Mitsubishi and boasting a modest 110bhp. A rather perkier turbo version of the same motor with over 150bhp is believed to be in the pipeline. Sales will be restricted to the Chinese market.

BYD Tang

BYD’s (Build Your Dreams) Tang might look like just another chrome-heavy Chinese SUV with too much air in its outsize wheelarches, but in engineering terms the BMW X3-sized off-roader packs a real punch thanks to mating a 201bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine to a 147bhp electric motor to create what is claimed to be a 348bhp package which, with the aid of permanent four-wheel drive will take the Tang from rest to 62mph in fewer than five seconds. With Chinese government green grants, its list price is reduced from around £30,000 to £26,000, which is rather less than you’d pay for any SUV capable of packing that kind of punch in Europe.

Hawtai A25

Interest in the Hawtai A25 small SUV concept (also known as Shengdafei) goes beyond it’s rather startling grille treatment. Behind that striking appearance lies a neatly conceived small off-roader powered in the main by a 135bhp, 1.5-litre turbocharged motor. However and unlike most Chinese domestic products at the show, the A25 can also be chosen with a 150bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel intended not just for export, but the domestic market too. "Diesel is still very small in China," Daniel Zheng, group vice president of strategic operations told Autocar, "but it is growing in popularity from about two per cent of the SUV market and we think the A25 is well placed to take advantage of that growth."

Fengshen AX7

Fengshen is a brand owned by Dongfeng and its new AX7 a rebodied version of the first generation Nissan Qashqai built by the Dongfeng-Nissan joint venture in China. Hitherto referred to by its D29 codename, the AX7 is a cleanly styled, well proportioned compact SUV with none of the attention-grabbing, sometimes unfortunate visual addenda employed, usually in chrome, by other domestic SUV manufacturers to draw attention to their products. Power is provided by a 2.0-litre Nissan petrol engine with 141bhp, though the smart money will likely wait for a newly developed 1.6-litre turbo with around 160bhp scheduled for later in the year.

CH Auto Event

Proving that Chinese manufacturers have more ideas up their sleeve than boxy sedans and chrome-laden SUVs, Beijing-based styling house CH Auto brought a new, supercar to the show with a highly original appearance and an all-electric drive system. Based around an all aluminium space frame and clad in carbon-fibre body panels, the Event is powered by a 300bhp electric motor said to let it hit 62mph in less than five seconds and reach a top speed of 124mph. Its range is said to be 125 miles and it can recharge its lithium-ion battery packs in six hours. Its lightweight construction has allowed the total weight of the two seat car to be restricted to ‘less than 1685kg.’

Zoyte Z500

The Z500 is the latest offering from the fast expanding stables of Zotye Auto, a car company that didn’t even exist ten years ago. And unlike most of its product to date, it’s appears not to be a licenced copy of someone else’s design, but a compact saloon in its own right, slotting in above the Z300 saloon. Power comes courtesy of a 1.5-litre turbo four-cylinder engine, reputed to produce 150bhp, with an even more powerful 1.8-litre turbo slated to arrive next year.

Chery concepts

Two new concept cars from Jaguar Land Rover’s Chinese partner Chery made their debuts in Beijing. The Concept Beta is an SUV with radical styling and large 22-inch wheels, and previews a new SUV to be launched in 2016. The firm’s other concept, the Alpha, offers a close preview to the Arizzo 5 saloon, a four-door model with a choice of 1.5 or 1.2-litre engines.

Ford Escort

Although not a domestic manufacturer, Ford is hoping to cash in on the booming Chinese market by bringing back the Escort name. Dropped from European markets in 2002, the new Escort has been specifically designed for China, with the concept shown in Beijing powered by a 1.5-litre Ti-VCT petrol engine.

Kia K4

Kia’s latest concept car has been designed specifically for China, and aims to offer a “simple” and “dignified” design choice for buyers. Measuring 4720mm long, the concept is powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged GDI engine. The K4 will go into production later this year.

Hyundai ix25

Although it’s likely to be sold elsewhere in the coming years, Hyundai’s new compact SUV is only confirmed for the Chinese market at the moment. It’s based on the Kia soul, and comes powered by a 2.0-litre ‘Nu’ petrol engine. Its design is based around a smaller ix35, and features a distinctive grille with wraparound lights.

Citroen C-XR

A likely rival to Peugeot’s 2008, the C-XR previews a new car which will become Citroen’s first joint venture SUV with its Chinese partner, Dongfeng. It sits on 17-inch alloys with all-weather tyres, as well as Citroen’s Grip Control system. Reports suggest a production version of the car will be seen early next year.

Read more Beijing motor show news.

Additional reporting by Darren Moss

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Comments
1

26 April 2014
bit misleading isn't it, you say top Chinese cars, yet most of them and from mainstream non Chinese manufacturers, there were loads of other cars there that could have easily been used, some of them totally hideous and worthy of placing here, so we can have a good old laugh.

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