New cars from Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Ford and Nissan sit alongside local brands at the second-biggest Chinese motor show
21 November 2014

The Guangzhou motor show, which got underway this week and runs until 29 November, is the second-largest show in China after the alternating event that’s shared between Shanghai and Beijing.

Held in the vast halls which also host the annual Canton Trade Fair, Guangzhou has in recent years become far more important on the world stage with a number of international manufacturers choosing to give new models world premieres at the show.

This year is no exception, with Mercedes Benz resurrecting the Maybach name as a sub-brand in the form of the Mercedes-Maybach S600, which enjoyed a simultaneous unveiling in Los Angeles. In China if it is big and German it is bound to sell; Volkswagen even finds a willing market for the Phaeton.

Most motor shows in China are little more than events put on by dealers with cars often being sold right off the show floor. While Guangzhou is more organised than that, information about new models can be seriously scarce for customers wanting to find out more.

One oddity of the Chinese market is that the big multinationals are forced to manufacture in conjunction with local joint-venture partners. Many such as Volkswagen, Honda, and Toyota have two different joint-venture partners with competing products. They have to keep the joint-venture partners happy and so you get overlapping products such as Volkswagen and Honda selling both the European and American versions of the Passat and Accord.

In the case of Toyota at this year's Guangzhou motor show this led to the near-identical Corolla and Levin being displayed side by side. The FAW-produced Corolla is the international version, whereas the Levin produced by Guangqi is similar to the North American version but unique to China and is meant to be more youthful.

Adding to the mix, GAC Group (Guangqi) on home turf decided to take up half a hall duplicating much of what was displayed by their joint-ventures and adding their own brands to the display. 

The international manufacturers

The Guangzhou show is not as important as Beijing/Shanghai, but with China a major market for international manufacturers, it is still important on the world stage.

In addition to the Mercedes-Maybach mentioned above, Ford gave an official launch to its revived Escort. This China-only car is based on the previous-generation Focus combined with the 1.5-litre engine used in the Fiesta in China.

Aimed as a low-cost car for consumers based on proven technology it is surprising how basic the interior is. Most Chinese producers manage to put touchscreen infotainment systems into their cars but Ford have omitted one from the Escort.

On a separate stand with their commercial joint-venture partner Jiangling Ford showed the Australian-designed Everest full-sized SUV. Power comes from a 235bhp 2.0-litre turbo Ecoboost petrol engine or choice of 2.2-litre or 3.2-litre Duratorq turbodiesels delivering 148bhp and 284lb ft and 197bhp and 347lb ft respectively. 

Qoros unveiled the Qoros 3 City SUV, which is actually a crossover version of the hatchback – a true SUV is under development. It rides 57mm higher than the hatchback it is based on and the front seats are also elevated by an additional centimetre.

Bigger tyres, plastic cladding and skid plates are meant to make it appeal to consumers looking for some weekend fun. It is only available with the Qoros 1.6T unit which for the first time has a six speed manual option. Qoros also showed a cut-out concept version of the City SUV. 

Taiwanese manufacturer Luxgen unveiled its new L7 SUV. This has vastly improved quality over the previous model but sticks with the uncompetitive five-speed automatic and 185bhp 2.2-litre turbo powertrain.

Staying with the SUV theme, Nissan’s China-only brand Venucia launched the T70. Starting at a bargain basement price of £9900, it is based on the Qashqai platform and available with a choice of 1.6 or 2.0-litre petrol engines coupled to a six-speed manual gearbox or CVT. 

The home manufacturers

Local manufacturer Guangqi - on home turf at the Guangzhou motor show - should have been expected to put on a strong showing, but it was BAIC that stole the show among the domestic manufacturers. 

Firstly, there was the official launch of the BAIC Senova X65 SUV. It rides on the Matrix platform derived from the old Saab 9-3 and inherits the Saab 2.0-litre engine.

Stealing the thunder from the X65 were the CC concept and D80. The CC is based on the Senova D60 and is a sportier version with a red and black interior, and more aggressive front and rear styling. Power has also been increased, swapping out the old 1.8-litre engine for the 203bhp Saab 2.0-litre unit. 

The impressive looking D80 was also on display, looking production ready. BAIC staff claim it is based on a Saab derived platform but Chinese media say it in fact rides on a lengthened Mercedes E-class platform. 

Inside, it sports a large touch screen infotainment system similar to a Tesla, and as with the CC quality standards have been ramped up considerably over Senova’s first Saab based offering. Power comes from the old Saab 2.3-litre unit but there are rumours of a 3.0-litre V6 option coming soon.

Not to be totally outdone, Guangqi did show off its new Trumpchi GA6. Power comes from either a 174bhp 1.8-litre engine or a new 220bhp 2.0-litre unit with a seven speed dual clutch transmission. 

One of the most controversial unveilings was the Landwind X7 SUV. Most Chinese manufacturers have moved away from their cloning days but this car is an almost dead ringer for the Ranger Rover Evoque, which was having its locally produced version revealed just one hall away. Read our comparison between the two models here.

Haval, now spun off as a separate brand by Great Wall, is showed off its new Haval H9. This is a serious-looking off-roader built in the vein as the Toyota Land Cruiser and has a body on frame structure. 

BYD unveiled its latest dynasty, the Shang, which is the plug-in hybrid (dual mode in BYD talk) version of the M3. This MPV in true BYD style looks very much like the Nissan NV200. A 0-62mph acceleration time of 7.5 seconds is claimed along with fuel economy of 126mpg.

Brilliance showed off its new Huasong 7 large MPV. Curiously, this is powered by a 2.0-litre engine sourced from within its BMW joint venture partner giving it up to 215bhp. 

Finally, MG gave a decent look at the GT, unlike at the Chengdu show where it hid the car in a box. It is however already on sale in China with sales likely to start next year in the UK

The model is already on sale in China, and UK sales are likely to start next year.

Mark Andrews

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Comments
4

21 November 2014
Some familiar shapes in that lot. But notice how many interiors are more or less exactly the same, whether it be a compact or SUV.

21 November 2014
All the cars seem to be copies of western cars - but they cant just quite pull it off. In my opinion they all like quite ugly and blingy with too much chrome. For instance the Luxgen L7 in pictures 24 & 25 looks like a bad combination of Porsche Cayenne and Peugeot 3008.

21 November 2014
Living in Russia I seeway more varieties of wheels than almost any of you guys in Europe, (but not many Yank tanks here and not for political reasons either - they just dont like them or trust them). But if you take a look at the map and find a city in the middle called Yekateraburg it is from here on out to the far east that you will find more right hand drives than left hand drives! Consequently there are Japanese only Chinese only Tiawan etc who all plough along the bad roads of the region. Which at least makes driving in Russia for a petrol head like me rather interesting. Have you ever seen athing called "Will" looks like a boat on wheens has the most cob interior of all time and the name makes me giggle - WILL it or Wont it - lol

what's life without imagination

22 November 2014
Levin is not a manufacturer. The Toyota Levin is a product of the GAC (Guangzhou Automobiles Group)-Toyota joint venture and the Toyota Corolla sold in China is a product of the FAW-Toyota joint venture.

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