The BMW Concept Compact Sedan stole many of the Guangzhou motor show headlines, but there was also plenty of content from local brands at China’s main autumn showcase.
A preview of a new 2 Series saloon that could be a rival for the Audi A3 Saloon and Mercedes-Benz CLA, the Concept Compact Sedan has been designed largely with the Chinese market in mind, with some suggestion that it could be a China-only model altogether. Look beyond the fancy door handles and door mirrors and the concept isn't far off a production vehicle. The same can be said for the high-tech cabin, which features a head-up display and in 8.8in infotainment screen. In the rear it is currently a two-seater - although the production version is likely to be switched to a more conventional bench layout.
The local brands aren’t standing still, though. Volvo owner Geely announced its Blue Geely initiative just before the show, promising a complete overhaul of its product range from 2016. The ambitious aim is for ‘new-energy vehicles’ (electric cars, mainly) to make up 90% of the company’s sales.
To reflect the announcement, Geely used Guangzhou to wheel out the Emgrand EV, a new model based on the firm’s popular EC series. The neat notchback boasts a respectable maximum range of 330km (205 miles) at 60km/h (38mph), with a real-world average range of 157 miles and a 0-62mph time of 9.9sec. Geely is already promising that the car’s range will increase to 400km (249 miles) by 2018.
A Geely spokesman said the firm will start selling hybrid cars from 2016. These EV and plug-in hybrids are expected to make up 65% of the new-energy vehicle mix in 2020.
At the core of Geely’s hybrid system will be a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. This combination is likely to make its debut in the production version of the Emgrand Concept that was seen at this year’s Shanghai Auto Show. Geely claims the plug-in hybrid system will boast fuel economy of 141mpg at launch, rising to 188mpg by 2020.
Intense pre-show speculation that Audi could show the production version of its TT Sportback in Guangzhou proved to be gossip - and the firm rubbed salt into the wounds by filling the space on the stand with the original concept, first seen at the 2014 Paris show. Even then, it seems clear that Audi believes this model could be a crucial one for the Chinese market, where traditional sports cars tend to struggle.
Qoros, another Chinese brand, has been attracting lots of media attention since its launch in 2013, but to date it has failed to strike much of a chord with the buying public. The firm used Guangzhou to show its Qoros 5 SUV - a vehicle that’s likely to be at the core of its plans to start ramping up sales.