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2013 Shanghai motor show highlights

2013 Shanghai show report
Every important new launch
Mercedes GLA Concept unveiled

Mercedes GLA
Latest News
Porsche Macan will be sportiest in class
Next Peugeot 107 coming in 2014
Audi: ‘our priority is new SUVs’
2013 Mercedes CLS63 AMG Shooting Brake

The Shanghai motor show is the world’s biggest automotive show in every way you care to count. The size of and number of the exhibition halls dwarves every other show on the planet as does the number of cars on display and the number of visitors that will eventually get to see them. And, of course, China is now comfortably the world’s largest car market.

Of course most of the brand new cars on display are from local makers. But as none of the Chinese brands have been exported to the UK they are still only of interest to car spotters. Thankfully all the brands that we are familiar with are still expanding hugely in China and the well-heeled members of the population don’t seem to have lost their appetite for imported cars, which are often far pricier than the homegrown alternatives.

So Mercedes and BMW chose to launch two important new SUV concepts at Shanghai, previewing the forthcoming GLA and X4 models. VW and Citroen also had new SUV show cars on display. Maserati gave us the global launch of the 5-series rivalling Ghibli saloon, and Audi put the interesting new A3 saloon on public display for the first time.

It was second time around for Porsche here too. Four years ago it chose the Shanghai show as the venue to launch the Panamera sports saloon. This time is was showing us the facelifted model, now available in long wheelbase form too, specifically for the Chinese market. The new plug-in hybrid model, available everywhere, was also on the stand.

These are editor in chief Chas Hallett’s cars of the show:

Mercedes Concept GLA
The Mercedes GLA is the latest addition to the new A-Class family, following the hatch and the CLA saloon. If anything it’s the best looking of the trio and it’s being rightly regarded as one of the stand out cars at the Shanghai show.

Read all Mercedes reviews

The good news is that, despite being billed as a concept, it’s virtually identical to the final production car that will go on sale in the UK early next year. Design boss, Gordon Wagener, told us that it was ‘95% there’.

This concept has a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine and is four-wheel drive. The real thing will have both petrol and diesel engines shared with the A-Class and be also available in front-wheel drive form.

Maserati Ghibli
Maserati’s revolution starts with the Ghibli. This is the car the company reckons will aid its aim to sell 10 times as many cars, along with the forthcoming SUV, the Levante.

Read more Maserati reviews

The long awaited smaller sister to the Quattroporte is, confusingly, closer to old Quattroporte which has now swollen to Mercedes S-Class size. Anyway, judging by the reaction in China, the Ghibli is likely to be the more popular of the two and looks like being a formidable rival to pricier versions of the BMW 5 Series and the Jaguar XF. Particularly impressive is the quality of the cabin and the fact that it will eventually be available with a diesel – a first for Maserati.

Audi A3 Saloon
This intriguing and handsome small Audi saloon was in fact announced just before last month’s New York motor show and was shown there to a favoured few. However Shanghai marks its full public debut with Audi obviously thinking that it’s going to suit the tastes of Chinese buyers.

Read the Audi A3 Sportback review

We can see it being a hit in the UK too. Mechanically, it’s virtually identical to the excellent A3 Sportback hatch and it’s actually the same size as the original A4 saloon. If you’re currently a company car driver the lower costs could mean that the A3 four-door makes more sense than an A4.

Citroen Wild Rubis
Citroen’s first DS SUV looked terrific in the metal but considerably bigger than it does in photos.

Read all Citroen reviews

It’s actually based on the DS5 executive hatch, so think of it as a rival for the BMW X3 or Audi Q5. Which is why the primary target market for the eventual production car – likely to be called the DSX7 – is going to be China. But it’s going to be a shame if Citroen doesn’t sell this, or a smaller Range Rover Evoque-sized DS SUV in Europe.

The huge global success of the Range Rover Evoque seems to be causing a big stir amongst the German makers, so you could regard this BMW X4 Concept as Munich’s answer to it. In fairness, BMW is also only scaling down the X6 to make a smaller version, based on the X3.

Read all BMW reviews

This is far prettier than the X6 though and from what we know about the X3, the final production car should also be formidably good to drive. We weren’t able to sit in the show car but a peer through the window seemed to suggest there shouldn’t be many worries about interior space either.

MG’s first SUV, based on the Chinese market 5 hatch, was certainly drawing the crowds. Quite right too as it looks the part.

Read all MG reviews

Design sources were hinting that the final production car will be eerily close to this concept when it hits the market too. The big question is whether it will come to Britain. But with our appetite for small SUVs such as the Nissan Juke they’d almost be mad not to bring it here. Either way it’s unlikely to go on sale before 2014.

VW CrossBlue Coupe
The smart-looking CrossBlue Coupe is the latest in what’s now become a long line of VW SUV concepts. But it’s the smartest of the lot and the clearest indication yet of what the next generation of 4x4s will look like. The concept’s plug in hybrid system will certainly make the cut: a V6 turbo petrol, allied to two electric motors.


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