Currently reading: Shanghai motor show 2015 - report and gallery
Big-name reveals from the likes of McLaren, Mercedes-Benz, Peugeot and Volkswagen take centre stage in Shanghai, alongside a whole host of creations from domestic brands

We have been told that Auto Shanghai was going to be big but nothing, least of all experience of previous motor shows in the world’s most populous city, could prepare the hacks making their way to the National Exhibition and Convention Centre.

That’s because this is the first time the show has been held here, not unreasonably because last time around in 2013, it didn’t exist it.

Until now, the Shanghai show had rivalled its sister in Beijing and the monster that is Frankfurt for the claim to be the world’s largest motor show. Now that claim is laughable.

Viewed from the air, the Convention Centre is a striking piece of architecture, looking like either a four leaf clover or a ship’s propellor, depending on your perspective.

What that view does not reveal is that each petal compromises four halls, two upstairs two down, and that each one of those 16 halls is allegedly easily big enough to swallow a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

You can put it another way and say there is half a million square metres of exhibition space here, or simply state the blurb, that calls it ‘the largest single block building and exhibition centre in the world.’ As one footsore journalist put it, ‘it makes Frankfurt look like a village fete.’ And so it did.

Even so, after the orgy of supercar excess that was Geneva and the what you see straightforwardness of New York, this was another kind of motor show altogether and perhaps a rather different one to that which was expected.

On the one hand, many of the world’s most grands fromages were – Mercedes board members Dieter Zetsche, Ola Kallenius and Thomas Weber all choosing to be in Shanghai rather than a few thousand miles to the west where their golden boy Lewis was doing his stuff once more – yet you might be forgiven to concluding that they’d forgotten to bring their cars with them.

True, Mercedes showed its new GLC Coupe and proved an SUV coupe crossover need not stylistically be a contradiction in terms, but allegedly at least it was still in concept form, albeit it is demonstrably close to production.

Its perhaps more valuable role in Beijing was to inform us what the regular new GLC will be like when we see it this summer, an Audi Q5 and BMW X3 rival seen as absolutely key to the UK market from which it has hitherto been missing.

Volkswagen was in concept mood too thanks to its C Coupe GTE concept which never looked more exciting than when positioned by VW execs as a new sub-Phaeton, supra-Volkswagen Passat model to rival Audi's Audi A6 and Audi A7, before it was revealed that even if it is built, it will be a China-only model.

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It also remains to be seen whether the 493bhp Peugeot 308 R Hybrid or anything even like it makes it into production. We hope so because we love a fast Peugeot, but as Peugeot slashes its most interesting models, including the RCZ and RCZ R to focus on more mainstream and profitable cars, the tide is perhaps running against it at present.

Not so the McLaren 540C, which comes hot on the heels of what McLaren claims to be the successful launch of its slightly more powerful 570S sister in New York.

With merely 30 fewer horsepower but, at £126,000 a price tag some £17,250 less than that of the 570S, it makes the cost of carbon-fibre, ultra-low volume McLaren ownership cheaper than that of any new Bentley or the Aston Martin DB9 and closer to that of the new Audi R8 and Porsche 911 Turbo.

But ultimately, and at least in terms of cars that might go on sale in the UK, this was predominately a show of concepts and variants, the only genuinely all-new product to have relevance to the UK market being MG’s GS SUV, which will go on sale next year.

So among these cars and the hangars’ full of local models - from bland saloons to brazenly audacious rip-offs of premium European products - lay a fundamental question about this show: why did all the big premium European brands choose not to bring much, if any, of the genuinely good new stuff to the world’s largest exhibition hall?

Shanghai is a far better show than it ever was before in terms of it organisation, ease of access and space provided to the manufacturers. But it still felt like a show the European brands needed to attend rather than particularly wanted to.

The vibe compared to Geneva where every major sports and supercar player of note brought something genuinely new and interesting could not be more stark.

For all the space allocated to it, Shanghai failed to attract sufficient overseas interest for it to rank as a 'Tier One' event in anything other than sheer size.

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Shanghai may be the world’s largest city and this its biggest building, but I will not be the first to observe that quantity is a poor substitute for quality.

If it and its sibling in Beijing wish to continue to rival the great shows of GenevaParisFrankfurt and Detroit, it will need to be with not just the breadth of talent on show in Shanghai yesterday, but with considerably greater depth, too.

Live blog - how the Shanghai motor show unfolded

1318 That wraps up our live coverage of day one of the Shanghai motor show. Our reporters are still hammering away on keyboards in hotel rooms across the city, so keep checking the site for more news throughout the day, and scroll down to the bottom of the page for links of anything you may have missed in the meantime. 

1252 Indeed Dürheimer said copying is more prevalent when it comes to model car making: "When you launch a new model, of course the dealers and everybody wants to have a model of it as a gift. One hundred per cent of the model making industry is in China. So in order to make a good model car, we need to give the data to the company that makes it about 12 months prior to the launch. And then we can't control what's going to happen. The model car might even reach the market from a competitor brand that we didn't licence before you launch the real vehicle."

1251 Bentley boss Wolfgang Dürheimer, however, is fairly relaxed about the issue of Chinese rip-offs: "We're not really concerned," he told Matt Burt. "They go more for the mass market premium cars, because if you want to buy luxury, you want to buy the original."

1247 The new Lincoln Continental, which is having an outing here in Shanghai, has fanned the flames of argument over copy cat designs, says Matt Burt. When the concept first appeared in New York earlier this month, Bentley designer Luc Donckerwolke took to social media to express his dissatisfaction at the car's perceived resemblance to his company's products.

1240 It's not just news and new car reveals we're covering from the Shanghai show. Our reports have also been blogging; here's Matt Burt on the role of electric scooters in China and the rise of the electric car. 

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1229 Matt Burt has been speaking with Bentley boss Wolfgang Durheimer, who's told him that the styling of the EXP 10 Speed 6 concept from the recent Geneva show would be tweaked slightly should the model make production as expected. 

1219 Mini's show star is not a new car, but a piece of wearable technology. Its augmented reality glasses project vehicle and navigation instructions in front of drivers and render parts of the car - including the A-pillar and doors -'invisible' in order to improve visibility. Read the full story here. 

1207 Another bizarre snippet about the Eagle (that lovely green sports car at the top of the page) from Matt Burt, which has been christened the 'Porscherrari' by the Shanghai media set. It's full name appears to be Eagle Came, and the words are written on the back in an identical font to the one Porsche uses for its model names...

1200 Here's one that's got tongues wagging this morning. The row between Land Rover and LandWind rumbles on over the latter's copycat design of the Evoque with its X7. Here's how the two designs compare

1152 Some Peugeot 508 news here - not only will the model be replaced in 2017 (there had been some doubt over whether or not that would be the case), but it will feature autonomous technology, a first for PSA Peugeot-Citroen. 

1142 Here's the full story on a new version of the BMW X5 unveiled at Shanghai today, the xDrive40e petrol-electric hybrid model. Its Co2 rating is put at 77g/km. 

1126 More from Jim Holder, who has discovered that the Peugeot RCZ will not be replaced

1118 DS, the premium brand of the PSA Peugeot Citroen group, is ultimately chasing annual sales of around 500,000 cars - up from around 120,000 in 2015. Insiders told Jim Holder the firm’s bosses plan for it to contribute 10% of the PSA Group’s sales, although company boss Yves Bonnefont said at the Shanghai motor show: “Volume is not a primary measure - it kills a premium brand. Our target is more about a contribution to the group.”

1114 Volkswagen is still working hard to bring a whole range of budget cars to the Chinese market, Matt Burt has learned. As reported by Autocar at the start of this month, the latest project is to engineer a new, inexpensive components set that will underpin both a saloon and an SUV. At the Shanghai motor show Volkswagen China boss Jochem Heizmann explained that the company had noted the increase in the size of the low-cost SUV market in recent months and stated there were "concrete projects" in the works to exploit that growth.

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1104 The emergence of DS as a sustainable premium brand will take at least 15 years, CEO Yves Bonnefont has told Jim Holder. “I do not know exactly how long it will take, but that is roughly what Audi required, and is measurable as being two full life cycles of car - a first one to establish the brand and a second one to make necessary improvements.” Bonnefont also stressed that DS is already profitable, as a result of its close ties with Citroen infrastructure.

1055 Volkswagen is in the process of turning its attentions onto the growing Indonesian car market, reveals Matt Burt. The nation's population is the fourth largest behind China, the USA and India. A recent period of political stability in the country has led to the emergence of an increasingly affluent 'middle-class', keen to spend their new-found wealthy on luxury items. Currently Japanese manufacturers dominate the Indonesian sales charts. Volkswagen is charging Brit David Goggins, currently vice president for China North at joint-venture FAW-Volkswagen, with establishing the manufacturer's presence in the country.

1052 Local Chinese car makers are starting to gain traction in their home market, particularly in the cheap, small SUV sector analysts have revealed to Jim Holder. Sales of SUVs are growing faster than any other sector in the region, and the largest gains are being made by local manufacturers tapping in to demand in emerging areas of the country, say reports. “In areas with emerging infrastructure an SUV makes sense, and the local manufacturers have a more appealing line-up of affordable cars at that level,” said one.

1043 More domestic wonders spotted by Matt Burt. "One of the most astonishing 'copycat' local-market cars to derive inspiration from established manufacturers was the Eagle, a sportscar that seemed to be a hotchpotch of Ferrari and Porsche design cues, and even featured an homage to Zuffenhausen's badge on the nose," he says. It's in our gallery if you want to see it. 

1037 Volkswagen has high hopes for its plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles in the Chinese market in the years ahead, says Matt Burt. Although sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles in China have proved sluggish thus far, government legislation is making them increasingly viable. “I predict that by the year 2020 we will sell hundreds of thousands of e-mobility vehicles in China,” said Volkswagen China chief executive Jochem Heizmann.

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1030 According to Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche, China will rival the US as Mercedes-Benz’s biggest market in 2015, before moving ahead. "And once it is ahead, it will stay ahead," he told Andrew Frankel. 

1023 Holder's also been over to Peugeot, where senior execs have been telling all on the success of the GT Line trim. "Peugeot GT and GT Line sales are accounting for 22% of 308 sales in Europe at present, underlining the brand’s decision to focus on maximising sales of core models rather than developing spin-off models, according to boss Maxime Picat. 'In the past we chased multiple silhouettes of vehicles and lost our innovation. I have told my team to focus on making the most of our core models, and by doing that we will be able to focus and pull ourselves far higher than would otherwise be possible.'"

1016 Jim Holder's got the following on a previous motor show smash hit. "The limited edition run of 500 McLaren 675LT models sold out within a month of the car going on sale - and before any customers had driven it. The 675LT cost £259,500, or around £64,500 more than the 650S on which it is based."

1012 Matt Burt has spied the Chery Ant 3.0, a Renaut Twizy-style electric car. He says: "The oddball Chery Ant 3.0 is the latest in a line of future mobility concepts from the Chinese auto maker. As well as featuring gullwing doors for easy of entry into the cleverly packaged pod, the Ant offers the potential of hooking up with other vehicles in a road train."

1004 Seat showed off its bold 20V20 SUV concept at the Shanghai motor show, even though the manufacturer doesn’t have an official presence in China. However, company boss Jürgen Stackmann didn’t rule out an entry into the country’s lucrative car market at some point in the future: “Our business is getting stronger every day. Our portfolio is growing and that is opening doors to new markets globally. Maybe the Chinese market as well. We’re still investigating that, so stay tuned.”

0954 The brand new platform that underpins the new MG GS SUV will not only also underpin the next generation MG6 but also many Roewe products aimed at the domestic market, Andrew Frankel has learned. 

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0947 Andrew Frankel's been finding out about the next-generation Mercedes-AMG E63. Not only will it pack a 600bhp punch, but it will also feature as stan