The unveiling of Qoros at the Geneva motor show caused quite a stir. Based in China but with a multinational staff poached from some of Europe’s top manufacturers, the firm has big plans.
So far it has continued to milk the PR gravy train with stories such as its car gaining the top score for 2013 in the Euro NCAP test. The question is, how does the 3 Saloon actually stack up?
While cutting a smart look the saloon lacks anything distinctive to make it really stand out. Currently only on sale in China and Slovakia, it was designed to compete with the Volkswagen Jetta and Ford Focus while also bringing new premium features to the sector.
Qoros’s three watchwords are design, safety and connectivity - and the brand is targeted at young metropolitan drivers.
One of the first things you notice inside is how uncluttered it looks. Very much aimed at the iGeneration, the central dashboard is dominated by the touchscreen infotainment system.
This is controlled by one and two finger swipes and has four functional groups - each with a further control screen off them. Navigation uses real time traffic information and can show points of interest such as restaurants and parking spaces, and you can send pre-programmed routes to it using a phone app.
It is also connected to social media outlets such as Facebook, allowing you to ‘check in’ based on your location.
Build quality is good with a decent use of premium materials. There is an impressive attention to detail with items such as the under passenger seat storage compartment and the fully adjustable rear headrests.
The bonnet is supported by a gas strut yet the boot gets cheaper goose neck hinges and also suffers from flimsy feeling sides and floor.
Currently new petrol, diesel, and hybrid powertrains are under development for the full European launch in 2016, but there is a choice in China now between a 1.6-litre DVVT petrol in both naturally aspirated and turbocharged forms.
Coupled to a dual-clutch automatic transmission the turbo proves responsive enough for normal driving. While adequate for China and returning good fuel economy it is lacking in power compared to the latest European offerings. We averaged an impressive 38mpg over the duration of our test.
The Qoros 3 was designed with a long wheelbase in mind. Partly to offer Chinese buyers the preferred leg space for adults in the rear, but also to help soak up bumps and joins in road surfaces. With considerable attention being paid to noise and vibration levels, it offers a very smooth ride and quiet cabin environment.
Steering is light by European standards but it doesn’t suffer from the vagueness that is common among Chinese cars. Driven on a number of different surfaces and a mixture of highway, country road and inner city routes there were no nasty surprises from the handling.
Visibility on the passenger side, though, is lacking and currently there is no option of blind spot warning indicators - a short-sighted omission given the emphasis on safety in the design.
Already the Qoros 3 is a strong car in its segment with an impressive list of kit. The upcoming new engines and Qoros’s policy of continual improvement mean that by the time it has a full European launch it will be up there with the best. It could even prove to be a match for more premium rivals.