Shanghai's 12th International Automobile & Manufacturing Technology Exhibition – or China's biggest motor show – kicks off on Monday and, in recognition of the growing global significance of the Chinese car market, there's a stellar cast of cars lined-up for visitors to feast on. Among the unveilings will be a new Golf-sized family hatchback from Chinese maker Brilliance – the A1 – which will be coming to Europe to take on the likes of the Kia Cee'd and Toyota Auris. This year, it's not just the domestic manufacturers making a splash either; both Audi and BMW have major global debuts to trumpet. And there will also be the mish-mash of odd-looking and –sounding show car and road cars, without whose introduction no Chinese motor show would be complete.
We knew BMW would be taking the wraps of an important car in Shanghai, but were expecting a new interpretation of the Z8 roadster; the Concept CS, therefore, came as a huge surprise. You can see more pictures of the sporty, upmarket four-door pictured above in our gallery. It's a show car that suggests a new, four-seater flagship is in the pipeline for BMW, a 'four-seater Gran Turismo,' as the maker describes it, with the kind of craftsmanship and exclusivity necessary to rival Bentley's Continental Flying Spur.The CS is 5.1-metres long; it's also considerably wider than the maker's 7-series saloon, and is rumoured to be powered by a V12 version of the company's motorsport V10 engine, producing 600bhp. Insiders have hinted that it will be brought to market with the 'Z9' moniker on its bootlid, and price tags starting at £70,000.
Audi's Q5 teaser
Vying with the CS for the lion's share of attention will be Audi's Cross Coupe concept (see gallery). This is a compact performance SUV that provides an advance preview of what the brand's Q5 4x4, and answer to the BMW X3 and Land Rover Freelander, will look like. Audi broadcasted the unveiling of this compact SUV to the world via satellite this morning; it's designed, they say, to combine the performance potential of a sports coupe with the versatility of a proper SUV. It's powered by a 2.0-litre TDi diesel engine tweaked to provide 204bhp and nearly 300 lb ft of torque, which finds its way to the road via Audi's trademark Quattro four-wheel drive.
The General makes a quick Buick
General Motors will also be making a high-profile unveiling; that of the Buick Riviera concept. This is a sharp-edged, athletic-looking coupe designed at GM's Asian technical centre, and rumoured to show the future direction of one of America's most frequently overlooked motoring brands.
The local heros
Not to be outdone, China's own motor makers are planning to put on a good show. Alongside Brilliance's new Europe-bound Golf-rival will be a European-designed premium hatchback from Chery, the brand recently signed up to produce superminis for Chrysler, called the Shooting Sport. This is being billed as China's answer to the new Mini, and was penned by Italian styling house Torino Design.Devotees of the Rover brand will instantly recognise the Roewe W2; it's SAIC's first major addition to the family of cars it bought from the sell-off of MG Rover's assets two years ago. The question on British visitor's lips when they see this mid-sized saloon will be, 'could this have been the next Rover 45, and if so, would you have bought one?' You might get another feeling of deja-vu when you see pictures of Geely's big Shanghai debutant. That's because it bears more than a passing resemblance to Nissan's forthcoming GT-R supercar, as well as Alfa's Brera coupe. And you can bet that it won't be the only Chinese look-a-like to appear in Shanghai next week. Come back to Autocar.co.uk on Monday to read Steve Cropley's full show report.