Beijing 2014: The most impressive Chinese carmakers #10 to #6

Venucia e30Who would have thought Venucia could glam up the Nissan Leaf?

We are now getting serious and entering the Top 10 most impressive Chinese carmakers at the Beijing Auto Show. This is Part 7 of my Beijing Auto Show coverage, check out also Part 1- First impressionsPart 2 – Most impressive Chinese carmakers #30 to #26 and Part 3 – #25 to #21Part 4 – #20 to #16, Part 5 – #15 to #11 and Part 6: A Voyage through Beijing hutongs.

#10 Venucia

Similarly to Baojun, Venucia is a low-cost brand only available in China. It was created by the Dongfeng-Nissan joint-venture and to this day only consisted of a regurgitated version of the previous generation Tiida, called D50 (sedan) and R50 (hatch). In spite of this Venucia sales have been progressing regularly, to break the 10,000 monthly unit-mark 5 times so far and peaking at 13,731 last December. So I was intrigued. And I was right to be. Miles away from Baojun’s bland stand, Venucia stood out from all other Chinese carmakers with a youthful and very colourful vibe, topped up by very glamorous starlets. “New” models were up en masse too: the all-new D30 (based on the Nissan March), the e30 plug-in (based on the Nissan Leaf) and the Viwa concept finished to convince me that Venucia is here to stay. Only negative: impossible to step inside any of the cars, which is always a bad sign.

JAC S3Now look at the car.

#9 JAC

Better known for its trucks, JAC definitely amped the sexiness at the Beijing Auto Show, turning around the rather bland image I had of them. Impressively, JAC presented 3 concepts including the spectacular CV-9 SUV and 3 production-ready all-new models: it took risks by unveiling the all-new Refine S3 SUV in a bright orange robe, adorned with a very sultry starlet in sizzling black and pink outfit. Who would have thought JAC could be capable of such glamour?

JAC iEV5Surprisingly both cool and production-ready: the JAC iEV5

And the glamour wasn’t just skin-deep: the iEV5 plug-in sported a very fun grille and the coolest interior of any Chinese car at the show! (click on Read more at the end of the article to see it) Unfortunately it’s JAC’s last new entrant that prevents the brand from ranking higher in my ‘most impressive’ list: the Heyue A20, the ‘normal’ version of the iEV5, disappointed with VERY shiny interior plastics. And sadly JAC still thinks it’s ok to blatantly copy Western cars: the Refine A6 Concept looks like a rushed Audi A4.

ChangAn Eado XT Pink frontNow that’s a bit daring from ChangAn…

#8 ChangAn

LCV specialist (with the Chana brand) recently converted to making more than Mazda copies, ChangAn stepped up to the game at the Show. It delivered a mix of very honest models and quirky one-offs like a Boss. No one else dared show one of their newest models in bright pink. ChangAn did with the exciting Eado XT. Lots of bonus points as well for showing a (Very) Grand Raeton extravangant limousine. All this topped off by an impressive CS75 SUV complete with top notch interior made ChangAn one of the most improved Chinese carmakers at the Show.

Zotye T600 interiorImpeccable: Zotye T600 interior

#7 Zotye

If I had to vote with my heart Zotye would be Number 1 in this ranking. I already had followed with interest the blooming of this brand that used to simply sell a rebadged previous gen Daihatsu Terios, so I knew what they were capable of which means they didn’t “impress” me that much if that makes sense. Zotye continues to grow with a very good Z500 unveiled at the show and, I will say it, the T600 SUV delivering one of the Top 3 most sophisticated interiors of all Chinese carmakers present in my view. Yep, no less.

Zotye fun Beijing 2014bWhat car shows should be about: pure fun.

I was preparing for the worst when the super friendly staff opened the T200 (facelifted Terios) for me but it wasn’t that bad. One starlet interacting with a kid taking her picture remains my favourite ‘moment’ of the show, and the salesman so excited at me publishing photos of their cars on my blog made this brand extremely likeable. Little Zotye will become big.

BAIC BJ100 ConceptOutrageously and deliriously pleasurable: BAIC BJ100 Concept

#6 BAIC

My understanding of BAIC was limited to the very successful E-Series and a Nicolas Cage-endorsed sporty Senova D70. Plus a few Jeeps. So you can imagine my surprise when faced with dozens of models, 2 striking concept cars, 3 production-ready all-new models and a special series looking very sporty indeed. You can’t miss the Senova D60 Aero when approaching the BAIC stand: its aggressive front makes you do a double take as it kind of looks like a Mercedes CLA. Not what I expected from a State-owned Chinese carmaker indeed. But wait there’s much more.

BAIC Concept 900Sharp: BAIC Concept 900

To me the Concept 900 is simply the best looking Chinese concept car of the Show, actually its grille is thanks to a great expansion on the brand’s logo. And the outrageous BJ100 Concept, love it or hate it, does stop you in your tracks. Add to this the new Senova D50, Senova D60 and BJ80 Jeep and you have one of the most dynamic Chinese carmakers at the Show. Negatives: the E-Series disappointingly very beige inside (both literally and not) and the BJ80 Jeep looking like a Mercedes G-Class on a very bad hallucinogenic trip and closed even to the press, probably to spare them an interior equally questionable.

The Top 5 most impressive Chinese carmakers at the Beijing Auto Show will be published shortly.

More pictures below.

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