I am getting more and more impressed as we go up my list of the most impressive Chinese carmakers at the Beijing Auto Show, now from #15 to #11. This is Part 5 of my Beijing Auto Show coverage, check out also Part 1- First impressions, Part 2 – Most impressive Chinese carmakers #30 to #26 and Part 3 – #25 to #21 and Part 4 – #20 to #16.
You would be forgiven for never having heard of the Maxxus brand. My only encounter with it was two random trucks passed on my way to Bourke in my recent Australian Outback trip – I didn’t even know they exported to Australia! Maxxus specialises in light commercial vehicles and this is where they earn they first bonus points: the entire Beijing Auto Show is dedicated to Passenger Cars, with LCVs relegated in the cold outside. Except for Maxxus which not only had the balls to play with the big boys but also launched the all-new and very alluring G10 complete with very alluring starlets indeed.
BYD once topped the China Passenger Car sales charts with the F3 and promised to ‘Build your Dreams’ by becoming the world’s #1 electric car battery maker with Warren Buffet as a shareholder. They have revised their pretensions since but had fallen into some kind of oblivion. Well BYD is back and kicking at the Beijing Auto Show, rekindling with its eco-friendly roots as a very eco-friendly stand – down to the showcars being either white or blue. However one mean BYD Tang hybrid SUV Concept turns out to be a mere kick arse version of the all-new S7, itself a bigger S6. And the new G5 looks like the G6.
Frankly on the lower end of the price scale (except perhaps for its Besturn sub-brand) and not in great shape commercially: I wan’t expecting wonders from First Automotive Works at the Show. And I was pleasantly proven wrong. FAW shows refreshed designs that looked anything but drab, takes risks with the all-new Xiali T012 looking decidedly different, makes me go aaah! by putting the same FAW logo on all its models meaning the Xiali and Besturn sub-brands are actually sub-brands, a rare stance in China. But I kept the best for last: the $7,300 Xiali N7 wowed me with its very neat interiors definitely miles away from what you would expect from such a cheap car.
Baojun is the low-cost brand launched by the SAIC-GM joint-venture two years ago with the 630 sedan. It took a while, but we now have two additional models, both presented at the Beijing Auto Show. On the plus side, perhaps even more so than for the FAW Xiali N7 above, I was very pleasantly surprised by the 730 interior: lovely design, very complete without feeling too complicated, robust enough and very far away from a low-cost interior indeed. On the not so great side: the 610 hatchback took two years to simply offer a 630 cut short with an uninteresting back.
Wuling is a Light Commercial Vehicle brand, except for the country’s best-seller overall, the Hongguang, at the border between MPV and LCV. On a good day, 3000 Hongguang find a new home in China. Yes you have read that right. Twice as many as VW Golf in the whole of Europe. And stepping inside for the first time at the Show, I understood why. This is the third brand in a row that changed my mind based solely on the quality of their interior, and although Wuling only showed one car, the new Hongguang S, it nailed it. I will say it: the Hongguang is one of the Top 5 best Chinese interiors at the moment. No less. Not bad for an LCV.
More photos below.