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-Passat model to rival Audi's A6 and A7, before it was revealed that even if it is built, it will be a China-only model.
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.
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.