Israeli-Chinese start-up brand Qoros has shown its first three new models at the Geneva motor show.
The Qoros 3 saloon will be the first to go into production later this year, followed by an estate and crossover which are all based on the same brand-new platform. The three models will have the option of all-new three-cylinder and four-cylinder petrol engines, as well as a clever hybrid drivetrain.
Virtually all of the engineering and development work on the cars has been carried out by international consultancies, with Austria’s Magna Steyr being one of the biggest players. The Qoros management team is also multinational, with many senior bosses from companies including Volvo, BMW, Jaguar Land Rover and Saab.
Just over 4.6 metres long and 1.84 metres wide, with a 2690mm wheelbase, the Qoros 3 saloon sits in the same market slot as the Volkswagen Jetta. China’s C-segment saloon market is worth seven million sales per year and Qoros buyers are expected to be 25-35 year olds living in the great metropolitan areas, says sales and marketing boss Stefano Villanti.
Although the cars will be exported, the US market is not on the agenda and right-hand-drive versions are still being mulled over by management. A bigger, Passat-sized car is on the drawing board, along with a proper SUV. Qoros is aiming for a five-star EuroNCAP rating for its cars.
Qoros aims to shift around 150,000 cars per year within two years of starting production and its new factory (100 miles north of Shanghai and run by an ex-BMW boss) is in the final stages of completion. At full tilt, the factory has a capacity of 250,000 units per year and Qoros is aiming to sell 450,000 units per year in the longer term.
Cleverly, the Qoros 3 Estate Concept (which aimed primarily at Europe) uses the same rear lights and bumper as the saloon and has a 500-litre boot (50 more than the four-door).
Most striking of the three is the Qoros 3 Cross hatchback, which gets a unique rear end and much more stylish front and rear bumper treatments. The driver sits 80mm higher than in the estate (20mm in the seating position and 60mm in the ride height) and it has a shorter rear overhang.
Inside, the Qoros has got both a smartphone dock (95 per cent of buyers will be smartphone users, says the company) and an eight-inch touchscreen. Its operating system is operated by two-finger swipes, in just four directions.
Under the skin, these first three Qoros models are quietly conventional, aside from the hybrid. The platform is suspended on MacPherson struts and a beam axle at the rear.
There are two ranges of petrol engines, with three cylinders or four. The 1.6-litre four-pot unit makes 124bhp/114lb ft in normally aspirated form and 156bhp/155lb ft in turbocharged guise.
More intriguing is a pair of three-pot turbo petrol engines. The 1.2 develops 124bhp and the 1.4 makes 156bhp. Stop-start will be fitted to European versions and there’s a choice of a six-speed manual Getrag gearbox or a seven-speed DSG. At the moment, diesel engines are not on the menu and their introduction is dependent on the state of future European sales.
The technical highlight of the range is a hybrid 4x4 transmission, which uses a 67bhp electric motor mounted on the rear axle. It is matched up to the 1.2-litre triple, which gets an integrated starter/generator to charge the 1.9kWh lithium-ion battery pack.
Qoros is estimating a 0-62mph time of under seven seconds, a three-mile range on pure battery power and 56.5mpg, as well as on-demand all-wheel drive. The system was being developed by American Axle and Saab, and was intended to be used on the all-new 9-3 replacement. After Saab collapsed, Qoros bought the technology.