As the buzz from the New York International Auto Show comes to a simmer, the Beijing Auto Show is just getting fired up, and already there are several hugely exciting cars present. Given that China is the world’s largest auto market, car manufacturers are scrambling to impress the country and its millions of consumers with the best they have to offer.
The show has already proven to be a nicely balanced blend of performance (a 395-horsepower Volkswagen Golf) and practicality (the Lexus NX) to luxury (BMW’s newest sedan concept) and ruggedness (Jeep brought an arsenal of China-specific toys). Essentially, there’s something for just about every Chinese consumer.
Here are six standout models that span the aforementioned categories and are currently absorbing all the attention and camera flashes that Beijing has to offer.
1. BMW Vision Future Luxury Concept
Despite its long name, the BMW Vision Future Luxury Concept would basically fill in the void where BMW’s 9-Series would theoretically exist, a sedan of sorts perched above the 7-Series to take on the high-end Mercedes-Benz S Class offerings. Production plans for the svelte cruiser are unknown, and in its current stage, it’s more of a design study for BMW’s engineers. However, it certainly retains elements of current models — such as the swooping, 6-Series Gran Coupe-like roofline — which implies we may be seeing inspiration derived from the concept take root in BMW’s models in the near future.
2. Volkswagen Golf R-400
The Volkswagen (VLKAY.PK) GTI was a Golf made for the performance enthusiast who couldn’t afford to drop a ton of money on a car. The Golf R was made when it became clear that there was demand for an even hotter hatch above the GTI, and conceivably, the Golf R-400 concept indicates that people are looking for even more above that. The name stands for the 400 PS that’s output by the car (395 horsepower), which was achieved using some tricks taken from VW’s rally car playbook. The power is dispersed to all four wheels with Volkswagen’s 4Motion system, and it manages 200 PS per liter, as it still uses a 2.0 liter turbo-four. All said, it’s about 100 horsepower more powerful than the Golf R, and after concerning news about the GTD, we can only pray that the Golf R-400 sees production.
3. Lincoln MKX
For the first time in its history, Ford property Lincoln introduced a new model at an auto show that wasn’t on American soil. Given how important China’s market will be for Lincoln when it’s debuted there this summer, the company thought — and perhaps rightly so — that Beijing would be the best fit to introduce the new MKX SUV. It’s the third of four all-new Lincoln offerings, and carries with it the same signature styling that Lincoln is placing its hopes on. Overall, the new car features soft, graceful lines that almost give the MKX a peaceful and comforting presence. Engine options were not revealed, but it’s likely to include at least a couple of EcoBoost options.
4. Bentley Mulsanne Plug-In Hybrid
The Bentley Mulsanne, unlike many of the compact plug-in hybrids, is a car that would greatly benefit from such a system. What we mean is that compact cars like the Prius already get decent fuel economy; the Mulsanne, on the other hand, does not. As it stands, the massive luxury yacht of a sedan packs a 6.75 liter twin-turbocharged V8, which sucks fuel at the rate of 13 miles per gallon combined. In other words, it has a lot to gain from an implementation of such a system, which is just what Bentley has planned — and will eventually spread throughout the luxury marque’s lineup, the company said. Details are scarce, but the system should help boost power (torque, especially) as well as efficiency.
5. Lexus NX
Despite the success of small-crossover SUVs, particularly in the luxury field, Lexus never had a contender in the segment. That changes with the new NX, which will be slotted below the RX line and come in both turbocharged and hybrid flavors. It’s likely to cost somewhere in the mid-$30,000 range, as the LX starts at about $40,000; this puts it directly in line with Audi’s Q5, the BMW X1, and the Infiniti QX50, among others. Entry-level luxury options have been an enormous growth driver for companies, and Lexus is counting on the NX to fill that role.
6. Jeep Wrangler Sundancer
Jeep (FIATY.PK) has had a lot of fun with its special-edition Wranglers, and the Sundancer is the next in that lineup. Jeep applied “a touch of sophistication … and a sense of fashion” to the latest model, adding a triple-coat Chocolate Brown metallic color with gold accents, bronze accents all around, and even bronze window tinting. There’s perforated leather on the inside, 20-inch pale gold Billet aluminum wheels with polished gold inserts on the outside, and numerous bronze, gold, and brown accents all around. Nothing has been done beneath the hood, but it’s certainly pretty to look at.