If the American and Chinese masses want ’em, then that’s what automakers will give ’em. And lately, the two have wanted more of the same thing: crossovers. So if you’re a fan of sedans, coupes, or anything with a ride height shorter than a Chevy Trax, you may be soon out of luck. Because with gas prices low around the world, consumers want crossovers and SUVs no matter where they live, and this fact was no more apparent than at this week’s Beijing Auto Show.
Of course, there are still some pretty big differences between the American and Chinese markets. On top of all the domestic-market brands few of us have ever heard of (any Fengshen or Jinbei fans reading?), China gets plenty of models that will never make it our way. Because it isn’t enough to own a luxury car over there — you need a driver too. As a result, the world’s largest automaker gets a number of cars that are familiar to us, but with a lot more room in the back.
With the economy slumping, the Beijing show didn’t feature many gee-whiz concepts or hopelessly expensive supercars this year, but it did feature plenty of interesting metal that caught our eye. Here are eight big reveals from this week’s Beijing Auto Show.
1. Acura CDX
Acura continues to move away from its polarizing beak grille with the CDX, the brand’s first model designed and built in China. While there’s no plan for bringing it to the U.S., the compact crossover is closely related to the Honda HR-V, and could be an effective Mercedes GLA, Audi Q3, and BMW X1-fighter.
2. Audi TT RS
Most people wouldn’t equate world-class performance with the Audi TT, but the new RS may change some minds very soon. Beneath the mildly-tweaked exterior (bigger air intakes up front, bigger exhaust ports out back) lies an inline-five cranking out 400 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque, good for a zero to 60 time of 3.7 seconds. Deliveries are expected to start in Europe later this year, with the TT RS making its way to America sometime in 2017.
3. Lexus IS
Lexus’s “Predator-Grille” may still be polarizing, but the brand has figured out how to tailor it to suit its individual models nicely. The IS sport sedan got a refresh at Beijing, and its angles and big grille are looking more aggressive than ever. Engines (241-horsepower four, 255-horse 3.5 V6, and 306-horse 3.5 V6) remain unchanged, and inside, drivers benefit from a larger 10.3-inch screen for the infotainment system.
4. Mazda CX-4
Mazda’s design hot streak continues with the CX-4, an all-new crossover that slots comfortably between the CX-3 and CX-5. Longer than the CX-5, but lower than the CX-3, the new crossover looks less like its compact/midsize siblings and more like the brand’s all new CX-9 seven-seater. Unfortunately, Mazda has no plans to sell the CX-4 in America.
5. Jaguar XFL
In the rest of the world, Jaguar’s XF is a midsize sedan. But in China, it’s also available with features otherwise reserved for long-wheelbase XJ buyers. Five inches longer than a regular XF, the XFL has folding rear tables, heated and cooled massaging seats, full climate control, and 10.2-inch touchscreens set into the front seat headrests. The XFL will be built in China at the company’s new Jaguar Land Rover plant.
6. Mercedes-Benz E-Class L
Not to be outdone by its British rival, Mercedes also introduced a long-wheelbase version of its midsize car. At 16.5 feet long, the E-Class L is only 7 inches shorter than the long-wheelbase Mercedes-Maybach S600, and from a few feet away, you’d be forgiven for mistaking the two. Available in both “saloon” and “sports saloon” versions, the big Merc will be built in China and won’t make its way across the pond anytime soon.
7. Volkswagen T-Prime GTE
Volkswagen has been using the major auto shows to preview an SUV lineup for years now, but it’s likely that the T-Prime GTE is the closest we’ve seen to a production model. The handsome SUV was unveiled with an executive four-seat interior, but it’s likely that if it sees production — and we’re confident it will — it will be Volkswagen’s global seven-seat model. According to the automaker, the tech-forward interior is close to production too, with elements appearing in production models as early as 2017.
8. Infiniti QX Sport Inspiration
Like Volkswagen, Infiniti is using the Beijing show as a springboard to introduce the styling language for its next-generation of SUVs. Roughly the size of a Porsche Macan, don’t be surprised if the SUV loses its science-fiction interior and enters production in 2017 as the next-generation QX50.