2019 Auto Shanghai - Best In Show
How do you say “these debuts are killing it” in Mandarin?by Jonathan Lopez, on
Although the Chinese car market is currently undergoing a sales slump, it’s still the biggest car market in the world. No surprise then that the recent Auto Shanghai show brought out oodles of attractive new debuts, many of which provide clues as to what’ll arrive on these shores in the near future. As such, we’ve got the best of the best lined up right here in the following list.
Our first entry on this list comes to us from Nissan, which dropped this superbly styled concept called the Sylphy. Weird name, I know, but we think the design definitely makes up for it.
The front end is new, rocking some sweet-looking headlight housings that do well to complement Nissan’s signature V-motion grille.
And check out those checkmark fog light housings in the corners. Tasty!
The good stuff continues into the profile, where a crease in the C-pillar enhances the Sylphy’s roofline with added elegance. Even the interior (traditionally a weak point on Nissan’s design) looks fantastic thanks to quilted leather and a stand-up infotainment screen.
It all looks very much ready to roll into production, and that’s great because the Sylphy will likely arrive stateside as the new Sentra. If that turns out to be the case, the compact’s future is looking mighty bright indeed.
[Read more about the 2019 Nissan Sylphy Concept.
“I’m usually not one to fawn over concept cars,” says TopSpeed writer Mihai Fira. “In my mind, they serve two purposes - one, to help prove that the designers and the companies they work for ‘still got it,’ and two, to give the public a preview and build some hype. Manufacturers usually rush to tell us that a concept will never see production, because like dreams, they aren’t meant to stay with us after we leave the realm of the auto show and return to the mundane world.
“That said, I was impressed by the Karma SC1 Vision Concept. It has some of the Infiniti Project 10’s vibe going for it, while also channeling the Mercedes-McLaren SLR Stirling Moss Edition. But while the Merc has acres of hood to hide the engine, the Karma is an EV. Launched alongside two other models in Shanghai, including a Pininfarina-penned two-door and the redesigned Revero, the SC1 is definitely the prettiest of the bunch.
The huge butterfly doors and narrow side windows give it a retro look, and the lack of air vents make it look like it was made from a single piece of sheet metal.
“We don’t know the specs, so I’m picking this one on looks alone. I know it’s subjective, but in a world filled with so many lackluster and downright ugly designs, it’s refreshing to see something I can gaze at for more than five seconds. What’s more, Karma boasts the SC1 is ‘an open-platform, luxury high-tech automotive incubator,’ which means the company is looking for creative and resourceful minds to help it develop future Karma models. If they’re gonna look anything like the SC1, then I encourage as many people as possible to rush out and join them!”
2019 Volkswagen VS5, VS7, and VA3
Volkswagen is launching the new Jetta sub-brand for the Chinese market, and with it, three new nameplates. These include the VS5 compact crossover, the larger VS7 crossover (which seats 7, two more than the VS5’s five-seat configuration), and the VA3 four-door sedan.
Building upon existing VAG products like the Seat Tarraco and Seat Ateca, the new Jetta brand was created as a joint effort between Volkswagen and China First Automobile Works (FAW) Group and brings a slew of entry-level vehicles aimed at younger buyers to the Chinese market. VW has plans to ramp up its presence with 200 new Jetta dealerships by the end of the year.
All told, these three new models could be a critical pivot point for the German brand moving forward.
“In a single move, VW is entering a new market with a whole new brand, plus solid cars for not much money,” says TopSpeed writer Safet Satara. “Astonishing!”
Auto Shanghai was practically overflowing with crossovers this year, but for TopSpeed writer Andrei Nedelea, the most important of the bunch came with a Mercedes badge.
“For me, the single most-significant debut in Shanghai has to be the close-to-production Mercedes-Benz GLB Concept. It very closely previews the production GLB, which is the most practical and (in my opinion) best-looking Mercedes based on the underlying architecture.
In fact, I’d even go a step further and say it’s the best-looking Mercedes SUV ever made, beating both the iconic G-Class and the new GLS.
Plus, it has the awesome modern Merc interior and everything it entails. Really looking forward to seeing this one in production guise, in person.”
One of the coolest things about international shows like Auto Shanghai is that we get an eyeful of some of the weirder and more interesting models out there. The Lexus LM is an excellent example of that, offering high-end luxury for business folks on the go.
“I know it’s just a Toyota Alphard with a Lexus front end - which is unusual for the brand - but have you seen the interior?” asks TopSpeed writer Ciprian Florea.
"It’s an amazing lounge on wheels with two armchairs, a TV, a state-of-the-art infotainment system, and a fridge for drinks."
"Seriously now, what more could you want? I wouldn’t mind working in that thing while traveling far and wide. Too bad the LM won’t be a global vehicle."
Along with all the crossovers, it should come as no surprise that Auto Shanghai 2019 was filled to bursting with new EV vehicles across multiple segments. For TopSpeed writer Siddhant Dhimaan, the most exciting of the bunch came from Aston Martin.
“The British automaker’s first all-electric offering debuted in China in production-ready form.
Succumbing to the electric paradigm shift, Aston Martin has actually made good use of the opportunity.
The Rapide E is powered by a pair of electric motors mounted on the rear wheels, which produce a combined 602 horses and 701 pound-feet of torque. It’s insanely quick too, reaching 60 mph from a standstill in less than 3 seconds. The cabin has been future-proofed with 10-inch digital displays that relay information regarding battery charge, charging points, and regenerative braking. However, the WLTP range of just 200+ miles is disappointing. No word on pricing yet, but if kept in check, the Rapide E could give some serious competition to the Tesla Model S and Porsche Taycan.”
Read our full review on the 2020 Aston Martin Rapide E.