The four-wheeled limelight moves to China’s capital

Since the early ‘90s, China’s auto industry has experienced extremely rapid growth, and in 2008, the nation became the world’s largest car producer. In fact, since 2009, China has made more cars annually than Japan, the E.U., and the U.S. combined, and while most domestic makes limit sales to within China, exports are on the rise. Imports are also growing, with more and more international manufacturers tailoring their offerings to capitalize on the increasingly lucrative Chinese passenger vehicle market. Last year, auto sales in China reached a new high (21.1 million vehicles sold, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers), and although some forecasters are predicting slower growth moving into 2016 and 2017, you can bet this year’s Beijing Auto Show will easily be one of the most important auto shows of the year.

The Beijing Auto Show is held on a biennial basis alongside the Shanghai Auto Show, with Beijing playing host during even-numbered years, and Shanghai taking the odd-numbered years. Also called Auto China, the Beijing Auto Show was first held in 1990, making 2016 the 14th running of the event. In total, some 850,000 visitors are expected to show up, including over 10,000 journalists. Both passenger vehicles and commercial vehicles will be showcased, with roughly 1,000 cars on display and over 100 world debuts. All the major auto players will be in attendance, setting up booths with thousands of other exhibitors to carve up nearly 2.4 million square feet of display space.

That means no matter where you call home, there’s bound to be something that piques your interest at this year’s Beijing Auto Show.

Updated 04/27/16: The covers have dropped and the reveals have been made! Read on for the biggest debuts from China.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2016 Beijing Auto Show.

What, Where, And When

2016 Beijing Auto Show – Visitor's Guide
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Things To Do

In addition to the usual opportunities for new car shopping, if-I-had-the-money fantasizing, and auto-oriented-geek-out sessions, Beijing will provide a unique insight into the future global car industry. Models once exclusive to the Chinese market are now venturing overseas, and we’ll more than likely see an uptick in Chinese exports for some years to come.

Does that mean a Chinese brand coming stateside? It’s certainly within the realm of possibility. Volvo and GM are already selling Chinese-made cars to U.S. customers, so the next obvious step has to be a full-fledged Chinese brand in the U.S., right?

Maybe one day. For the time being, expect to see tons of concepts and new production vehicles, both for the Chinese and global market. If you happen to be there in person, you’ll also get to check out the latest car parts and accessories, automotive R&D equipment, infotainment technology, and vehicle manufacturing machinery.

Beijing in late April means warmer temperatures, with an average around the mid-‘60s (Fahrenheit) during the day. Nights will dip down into the lower ‘50s, though, so come prepared. It’s also worth noting that Beijing is notorious for its poor air quality, so bring a mask and be ready for heavy pollution.

Still, if you can brave the smog, there’s a bevy of historical points of interest to take in, with nearby architectural, religious, and cultural landmarks that span several millennia. Standouts include the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, the National Museum of China, the Summer Palace, and the Great Wall of China.

The Venue And Transportation

The 2016 Beijing Auto Show is held jointly at the Old China International Exhibition Center in Jinganzhuang and the New China International Exhibition Center in Tianzhu, with the car parts expo at the former and cars at the latter. For this piece, we’ll concentrate exclusively on the cars at Tianzhu, which can be found at the mapped location below:

2016 Beijing Auto Show – Visitor's Guide
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No. 88 Yuxiang Road
Tianzhu Airport Industrial Zone
Shunyi District, Beijing

Located adjacent to the Beijing Capital International Airport, the New China International Exhibition Center is accessible by a variety of transportation options, including busses, subways, taxis, and of course, a direct airport shuttle. There are copious accommodations available, but get yours early, as the best deals will undoubtedly book up quick.

You can check out a PDF of the show floor here, plus a layout of the convention center below.

2016 Beijing Auto Show – Visitor's Guide
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Show Schedule And Tickets

Per usual, the journalists got first access to the big releases between April 25th and 26th. Next up, the trade folks get two days to network and check in on the competition between April 27th and 28th. Finally, the show will open to the public on April 29th, and will remain open until May 4th.

You can find info on tickets here (note: this link leads to a Chinese-language website).

Crossovers, SUVs, And Wagons

Mazda CX-4

2017 Mazda CX-4
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Filling the void between the CX-3 and CX-5, the CX-4 is exactly what you’d expect from the zoom-zoom brand – Kodo styling on the outside, a little more room on the inside, and a peppy 2.0-liter engine under the hood. Mazda has yet to divulge specific output figures, but given the engine line is a carryover from the CX-5, we’re expecting 155 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque, with higher trims receiving a 2.5-liter powerplant with 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. Unfortunately, U.S. availability looks like a non-starter.

Read the full review here.

Acura CDX

2017 Acura CDX High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Acura is celebrating its ten-year anniversary in the Chinese market, and as such, the automaker is introducing a new compact SUV offering. It’s called the CDX, and it’s the first model Acura has ever produced in China. Not only does the CDX expand the brand’s SUV portfolio, but it also evolves its styling, with highly angular shapes inspired by the Acura Precision Concept first seen in Detroit. Power is derived from a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder, with 182 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque routed through an eight-speed automatic transmission. Both FWD and AWD are options. The CDX will launch this summer, but it’s unlikely it’ll be sold outside of China.

Read the full review here.

Honda Avancier

2017 Honda Avancier
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Acura’s parent company, Honda, also debuted a new SUV in Beijing. It’s called the Avancier, and it was designed to be the flagship model for the mid-size segment. Stylistically, the Avancier offers a front fascia that somewhat mimics the CR-V sold here in the U.S., plus LED lighting and beefier wheel arches. Inside, the cabin looks roomy, and gets nice luxury touches like leather, heated and ventilated seats, and a touchscreen display. Making the go is a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder, but additional powerplants are expected in the future.

Read the full review here.

BMW X1 LWB

2017 BMW X1 LWB High Resolution Exterior
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Hot off the press from a total redesign for the 2016 model year, BMW is building a Chinese-exclusive LWB-variant of the X1. Space inside is increased thanks to a wheelbase that’s grown by over three inches, while the latest exterior styling and interior amenities are carried over from the standard model. Power comes from a range of engine options, including a 1.5-liter three-cylinder and two 2.0-liter four-cylinders. The base model gets FWD, while higher trims get AWD.

Read the full review here.

Sedans, Hatchbacks, And Luxury Cars

Citroen C6

2016 Citroen C6 High Resolution Exterior
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The original Citroen C6 ended production in 2012, but now, the nameplate is making its return. This time around, the French automaker will aim it towards the Chinese market as part of a joint venture with the Chinese-based company Dongfeng. While the exterior styling is significantly toned down compared to the model that preceded it, the interior makes up for it with a healthy dose of opulence and premium features. No word yet on the drivetrain, but we’re guessing the new C6 will get the same 1.6-liter as the DS5 LS.

Read the full review here.

Jaguar XFL

2017 Jaguar XFL
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Jaguar released a second generation for its mid-size XF sedan last year, and now, it’ll offer a long-wheelbase version called the XFL. Created specifically with the Chinese market in mind, it’s unlikely the new model will come stateside, but beyond the lengthened dimensions and increased legroom, not much is expected to change. Powerplant options will include a turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder and supercharged 3.0-liter V-6. It’ll also get JLR’s characteristic lightweight construction, using “China’s first purpose-built aluminium body shop.” The XFL is also slated to be the first model produced in the automaker’s Changshu plant. Sales will commence in the second half of the year.

Read the full review here.

Lexus IS

2017 Lexus IS High Resolution Exterior
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The IS is Lexus’ sporty, entry-level four-door, which previously went by the name Altezza in its native Japan (remember those awful Altezza taillights everyone swapped onto their Honda in the early 2000’s?). Now in its third generation, the IS is due for a mid-cycle refresh. Up front, you’ll find new headlights and larger intakes in the corners, while that iconic hourglass-shaped grille remains. The infotainment system now gets a 10.3-inch touchscreen (up from the previous 7-inch unit), while the drivetrain retains the old model’s 2.0-liter and 3.5-liter powerplant options.

Read the full review here.

Buick LaCrosse Hybrid Electric Vehicle

2017 Buick LaCrosse Hybrid Electric Vehicle Exterior
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Buicks and electrified transportation are big in China, and as such, GM intends on launching 10 new “energy vehicles” in China over the course of the next five years. Hybrids, PHEVs, and all-electric vehicles will all be offered, including a hybridized variant of the LaCrosse. Recently debuting in Shanghai, the LaCrosse HEV is slated to hit the Chinese market with a 1.8-liter internal-combustion engine and 1.5-kWh lithium-ion battery, plus a CVT. The 0-to-60 mph run is timed at just under nine seconds, while fuel economy is rated at over 50 mpg. Visually, it looks like the same LaCrosse that’s sold stateside, with the exception of a few new badges here and there. The interior also mimics the U.S.-spec vehicle, with cues pulled from the Avenir concept.

Read the full review here.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class L

2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class L High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Build and sold exclusively in China, this stretched E-Class has all the good stuff as the shorter wheelbase variant, plus a little extra room in the rear. Climb aboard, and you’ll find an additional 5.3 inches of legroom, plus all the standard opulence you’d expect from a Merc-brand limo, such as leather upholstery, wood trim, LED accent lighting, and touchscreen control. Mercedes has yet to reveal the nitty gritty on the drivetrain, but the basics include a turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder and nine-speed automatic transmission.

Read the full review here.

Audi A4 L

2016 Audi A4 L High Resolution Exterior
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As expected, Audi is also offering up a lengthened luxury sedan in the form of a chauffeur-friendly A4. The exterior includes the same refreshed styling as the latest regular-wheelbase variant, plus an extra 3.6 inches in the middle. That makes for loads more space for rear-seated passengers, providing a nice environment to enjoy the leather upholstery and copious entertainment options. Mounted under the hood is a 2.0-liter TFSI four-cylinder gas engine available in two states of tune – 190 horsepower, or 252 horsepower.

Read the full review here.

Bentley Mulsanne First Edition

2017 Bentley Mulsanne First Edition High Resolution
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The Mulsanne just got a mid-cycle refresh in Geneva, with new styling and new infotainment gear making the list of updates. Now, the luxury automaker has unveiled the limited-run First Edition, which adds new, customized interior features, such as fresh upholstery, a sterling silver vanity kit, and rare wood trim. Meanwhile, the drivetrain is unaltered over the standard model.

Read the full review here.

Citroen E-Elysee

2016 Citroen E-Elysee High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Originally called the C-Elysee, this compact four-door will soon see it’s range of four-cylinder engines replaced with a new all-electric set-up. Underneath, you’ll find hard bits related to the Peugeot 301, C3, and DS3, with an exterior look that’s quite similar to the car’s gas- and diesel-powered equivalents. The interior is also expected to be a carryover. The important differences, however, are under the hood. All the specifics on the new electrified powerplant have yet to be released, but we do know that range-per-charge will come to 155 miles, and 6.5 hours will be required to get back to full.

Read the full review here.

Peugeot 308 Sedan

2016 Peugeot 308 Sedan High Resolution Exterior
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In addition to a hatchback and wagon, the 308 will now be available as a sedan. However, unlike the more practical five-doors, the four-door will only be offered to Chinese customers. The exterior takes after the hatch, with a Euro-lookalike fascia, but the rear takes on unique styling befitting of a sedan. Details on the interior and drivetrain are currently unavailable, but we’re expecting equipment from the hatchback in those departments as well.

Read the full review here.

Sports Cars And Supercars

Porsche 718 Cayman

2017 Porsche 718 Cayman High Resolution Exterior
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Porsche recently unveiled the new 718 Boxster, and now, Stuttgart has introduced its hardtop sibling – the Cayman. Like the Boxster, the Cayman ditches the old six-cylinder engine, replacing it with a flat-four boosted by a single turbocharger. There’s also slightly tweaked styling, an updated dashboard, and a retuned chassis. Output for the top-spec Cayman S is rated at 350 horsepower and 309 pound-feet of torque, which is enough to propel the two-door to 60 mph in as little as four seconds flat.

Read the full review here.

Audi TT-RS Roadster

2018 Audi TT-RS Roadster High Resolution Exterior
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The TT-RS Roadster got its newest evolution in Beijing, and for all intents and purposes, it’s worthy of the term “refresh.” Outside, the Roadster gets Audi’s latest styling cues, with aggressive, sharp angles in the fascia, including the headlights and single-piece grille. The rear deck and taillights were also reshaped. Inside is the Audi Virtual Cockpit, while infotainment gear includes a Wi-Fi hotspot, voice control, and a stereo from Bang & Olufsen. Motivation is once again derived from a 2.5-liter five-cylinder TFSI powerplant, but output this time around was increased to 400 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque. Routed through the obligatory quattro AWD system, its enough muscle to hit 60 mph in less than four seconds.

Read the full review here.

Audi TT-RS

2017 Audi TT-RS High Resolution Exterior
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Of course, with the new Roadster also comes the hardtop variant, which gets all the same upgrades as the drop-top, plus a no-nonsense roof. There are larger intakes in front, a sporty interior layout, and that thumping 400-horsepower five-cylinder under the hood. The chassis is lighter as well, which should do well to complement the optional adaptive suspension and ceramic brake discs.

Read the full review here.

Concept Cars

Infiniti QX Sport Inspiration

2016 Infiniti QX Sport Inspiration Concept High Resolution Exterior
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One of the better-looking concepts at Beijing has to be the QX Sport Inspiration from Infiniti. Both bold and sleek, the SUV takes cues from the Q60 coupe (plus previous concepts like the Vision GT supercar) for one very attention-grabbing aesthetic. The interior raises eyebrows as well, with a driver-oriented layout that divides the seats into well-defined spaces. No word yet on what powers the vehicle, but we’re thinking 400 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque from a 3.0-liter gas engine, plus a seven-speed auto gearbox and AWD system.

Read the full review here.

Volkswagen T-Prime GTE

2016 Volkswagen T-Prime Concept GTE High Resolution Exterior
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Heralded by a series of teaser images, VW introduced the T-Prime GTE concept in Beijing as a preview of what’s to come from the German automaker in terms of its future SUVs. While not necessarily groundbreaking in its exterior design, the model does look production ready, with lots of horizontal lines in the front fascia, plus C-shaped daytime running lights. VW also placed loads of emphasis on the SUV’s luxurious interior, with leather upholstery and wood trim making the materials list. Technology-wise, there’s an “Active Info Display” with a 15-inch curved head unit. Powering the concept is a hybrid drivetrain that pairs a turbo four-banger and a single electric motor, which combine to offer up to 376 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. Routed through a 4Motion AWD system, that hybrid power blesses the concept with a 0-to-62 mph time as low as six seconds, with fuel economy rated at 87 mpg.

Read the full review here.

JAC SC5

2016 Beijing Auto Show – Visitor's Guide
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JAC will bring a new SUV to the Chinese market next year, and it’s previewing the model with a near-production concept in Beijing. Details are a bit fuzzy, but the concept is believed to be equipped with a hybrid drivetrain, while the production variant will most likely get a gasoline-only powerplant. Possible options include two different turbocharged mills, including a 1.5-liter and a 2.0-liter. Top-spec output is expected to be around 200 horsepower. The new SUV will vie for position in the ultra-competitive mid-size segment with a price tag of around 150,000 yuan ($23,155).

Chery FV2030

2016 Chery FV2030 High Resolution Exterior
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Chery also unveiled a new concept SUV in Beijing, but by the look of it, production is still a long way off. It’s called the FV2030, and it’s slated to compete against the Chinese-market exclusive Mazda CX-4. The concept definitely has an air of sportiness to it, with a low, wide stance, coupe-like roofline, enormous wheels, ultra-thin headlights, and shapely, aggressive front fascia. It also seems to have no door lines. Motivation should come from an all-electric drivetrain, while inside is holographic instrumentation. We’ll see which ideas make the cut if production ever gets the green light.

Read the full review here.

LeEco LeSee Concept

2016 LeEco LeSee Concept
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You’ve probably never heard of LeEco, at least in the world of cars. The Chinese brand is best known for its TVs and smartphones, but now, it’s busy making cars too. Or at least concept cars.

LeEco recently unveiled its latest all-electric four-wheeled gadget, which it’s calling the LeSee. Personally, I think it’s pretty cool looking, with an ultra-wide stance emphasized by LED strips that run from corner to corner. The whole body of the car is also devoid of creases and gaps, giving it a very solid, cohesive appearance, while the profile offers a slick, coupe-like roofline. Apparently, the front fascia is also a screen that can relay information to outside observers. Inside is a very futuristic cabin, with shiny bucket seats, a squared-off steering wheel, and copious horizontal lines.

Info on the drivetrain is nonexistent, although LeEco did say its creation had a “theoretical” top speed of 130 mph.

Read the full review here.

Chevrolet Cruze Tron Legacy Edition

2016 Chevrolet Cruze Tron Legacy Edition
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No need to check your calendars, it’s not 2011, but Chevy felt the need to bring this Tron-inspired showpiece to Beijing all the same. Built as a promotion for the new Disney resort slated to open in Shanghai this June, the electric-blue Bowtie gets all the sci-fi-esque styling details you’d expect, with glowing accents offsetting a dark background both inside and out.

Read the full review here.

Audi Q3 Connected Mobility

2016 Audi Q3 Connected Mobility Concept
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Rather than taking the traditional concept car route of never-gonna-happen styling and features, Audi decided to go practical with this one-off Q3. It looks stock, but hidden under the rear bumper is a 3.44-foot electric longboard. The idea is to offer a secondary means of conveyance in congested urban settings, which isn’t too far fetched, if you think about it…

Read the full review here.

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