All eyes will be on Beijing Easter Sunday when automakers reveal the fruits of their hard labor in the new world capital of car sales. The Beijing International Automotive Exhibition begins its press preview on April 20, 2014. Inside the grand exhibit halls will be sports cars, crossover concepts, new SUVs, and more from European and Japanese automakers. In addition, showcases of joint ventures between foreign companies and their Chinese partners will hit of what’s ahead for the auto industry as a whole.
Most automakers see an opportunity in hybrid and electric vehicles in China, not to mention the exploding luxury segment that has driven local demand for pricey automobiles from Cadillac, Mercedes, and Tesla. New offerings from the luxury compact crossover segment will also be on board. The Beijing auto show will have options at every price point, but here are the seven most thrilling rides going on display.
1. Peugeot Exalt
U.S. consumers aren’t used to the sight of Peugeots, but the Chinese audience will get a look at a 340-horsepower burner called the Exalt. Supplying the power are a 1.6-liter THP engine capable of 270 hp plus a 50 kW electric motor in the rear axle that will deliver the difference. A six-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive capability are part of the package.
Peugeot will showcase a total of 16 vehicles in Beijing, including the “2008? crossover, the Exalt, and numerous Roland Garros specialty rides. Consumers that prize speed, performance, and green powertrains are bound to shower the Exalt sedan with attention. The French automaker’s assault on the Chinese market has begun in haste.
2. Bentley Hybrid Concept
Since the words “Bentley” and “hybrid” sound strange in the same sentence, the automaker has its work cut for it with a new plug-in model set to debut in Beijing. This Bentley Hybrid is the first of its kind, but the automaker said in a company statement that 90 percent of the Bentley line will be hybrid by 2020. It will likely begin with a plug-in hybrid SUV in 2017, but for now the concept sedan will delight auto show audiences.
Bentley’s hybrid is in the Cadillac ELR tradition with 50 km (about 30 miles) in electric-only capability. In addition, Bentley will debut the Continental GT Speed that can blaze race tracks at 206 mph and the Flying Spur V8.
3. Bugatti Veyron Black Bess
Visitors to the Beijing motor show are sure to swarm over this Bugatti supercar from the automaker’s Les Legends series. Only three models of this Veyron “Black Bess” will be produced by Bugatti, but those that do will deliver the appropriate thrills for their astronomical price tag.
To be specific, the Veyron on display will be powered by an 8.0-liter W16 engine capable of 1,184 horsepower and 1,106 lb-ft of torque. Flying from 0-62 takes 2.6 seconds, but that’s only one stop on the way to top speeds over 230 mph. The price is set near $3 million for the three Black Bess supercars that will go on sale.
4. Citroen DS 5LS R
French automaker Citroen has big things planned in China. Its planned “offensive” on Beijing 2014 includes highlighting new models and expanding the reach of its 54 stores in China. A partnership with local companies allows the French premium brand to produce cars in China.
The new DS 5LS is described by the automaker as a “hot-blooded sports concept car” with an emphasis on pure power. It’s based on the DS 5 LS platform. Citroen also has its SUV prepped for debut in Beijing. The utility model is based on the Wild Rubis concept Citroen teased at prior auto shows.
5. Audi Crossover Concept
Audi brought the Allroad Shooting Brake concept vehicle to Detroit in 2014, and by the looks of design sketches for the crossover concept it will unveil in Beijing on April 20, there is more where that came from. Car and Driver saw the Shooting Break launch as a preview of the next Audi TT, but this concept may come into existence in the exploding hybrid luxury crossover market.
Chinese consumers will have several crossover options to peruse from the world’s automakers in Beijing. Audi has been mum about what’s under the hood of its concept, but if it’s similar to Shooting Brake’s specs — 408 hp, 487 lb-ft torque — there will be plenty of consumers clamoring for the vehicle’s production.
6. Lexus NX F Sport
Lexus is debuting its first ever crossover compact with the NX series at Beijing. The 2015 NX F Sport is the performance model in the group, which means it will offer the most punch for any thrill-seeker settling for a compact SUV. When first teased as a production model, the Lexus LF-NX was angrier and more imposing. Exterior designers toned down that aspect for the production, but there is likely to be plenty of power on tap in the F Sport variant.
7. Lamborghini Aventador “Nazionale” Ad Personam
Like Bugatti, Lamborghini is never content to go “medium-big” when supercars go on display at international at shows. In Beijing, Lamborghini has a debut of an Aventador variant called “Nazionale” that has personalization options for customers. This specific model was configured to the tastes of Hong Kong action film star Jackie Chan. Contrasting red-wheel accents and other twists mark the Jackie Chan Edition model that will be auctioned off at a starting price over $1 million.
The proceeds of this model’s sale will benefit Chan’s charity, but local consumers are getting a look at the customization they can tap into should an Aventador appeal to them. China’s auto market has no ceiling at the moment. If buyers are on the market for a 700-hp V12 Aventador, they may as well personalize it. Don’t expect to see the details on the road. They can blast from 0-62 in 2.9 seconds and reach top speeds over 217 mph.