Getting better and better in my ranking of the most impressive Chinese carmakers at the Beijing Auto Show. This is Part 4 of my Beijing Auto Show 2014 coverage, check out also Part 1- First impressions, Part 2 – Most impressive Chinese carmakers #30 to #26 and Part 3 – Most impressive #25 to #21.
MG, now short for Morris Garages and the property of SAIC, is one of a few Chinese brands that exudes a genuine air of coolness. Staff clothing color scheme gives a touch of British without being too obvious, car designs are among the best in China, especially the new MG5, and the sporty versions exposed actually are sexy. So what went wrong? The interior damages all this exciting coolness with shiny plastic giving off a frank air of… low cost.
MG’s more up-market sister brand is exactly that: more conventional but classy design, good ‘clunk’ sound at door close and good quality, intuitive if a little unimaginative interior. One of the most sophisticated Chinese brand experiences I had at the Show.
Before stepping in the Beijing Auto Show my idea of Soueast was a brand that kept relaunching ever more grossly made-up versions of the previous generation Mitsubishi Lancer. Soueast’s presence at the show was far from that, with one new model (the V6 Ling Shi Cross) and a not unpleasant SUV concept (the R7). Nothing groundbreaking here, but a dynamic stand and far better designs than expected earn Soueast my cheers.
Geely announced earlier this year that it would kill its 3 sub-brands (Emgrand, Shanghai Englon and Gleagle) and rightfully name all models Geely. What better platform to make this change than the Beijing Auto Show? Oh but wait Geely changed their mind, and now wants to keep the Emgrand sub-brand, even debuting a new black and blue logo at the Show. Plus the Shanghai Englon logo was still on some models. Confusing.
I was expecting to be wowed at the Emgrand EC7 given its outstanding sales figures, and yes the interior is pleasant with a few clever ideas (the only Chinese model in the show to sport HDMI and USB cable plugs) but the materials feel flimsy and the dials wobbly. However one concept saves Geely from ranking far below in my ‘most impressive’ list: the Emgrand Cross PHEV hatchback, with a very pleasing look and super impressive interior. It even looks like it could go on sale tomorrow and compete with the Qoros 3. Me: impressed.
Jinbei is owned by Brilliance and makes boring licensed copies of the Toyota Pro- and Hiace. Right? Wrong. Here comes the huge new generation Granse MPV, impressive from all angles. Very friendly staff writes down all the info I asked, and Jinbei becomes one Chinese brand that changed my mind at the Show.
More photos below.