Geely Has Apparently Decided to Rip Off the Design of the BMW X4 for its New Volvo XC40-Based Crossover Coupe
Here we were thinking the era of blatant copies was goneby Michael Fira, on
China has been known for putting out some outrageous knock-offs over the years. BMW seems to be a favorite of Chinese carmakers that can’t quite get around designing a car on their own. Geely seems to continue the trend in a more subtle manner with their latest crossover, the FY11.
No, this is not the facelifted BMW X4 or its big brother, the X6. This is, in fact, what Geely calls its most driver-focused car yet. It’s a coupe-bodied crossover, so the statement in itself is dubious, but it’s not as dubious as the variety of styling cues that basically tell us one thing: Geely’s designers watched too many BMW promotional videos before getting to the task of penning the FY11. It’s underpinned by the same platform as the XC40 from Volvo, and it will be followed by an all-electric sedan and an MPV as Geely looks to extend its range further.
What if This is a Dood Crossover? Could you Overlook The BMW-ish Styling?
Geely has been on a roll lately, unveiling new car after new car. This most recent one, known internally by the ’FY11’ designation and more commonly referred to as the Sports Coupe SUV, is the first Geely model to be based on the Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) co-developed with Volvo. We already know there’s a strong link between Geely-owned automaker Lynk & Co., so to see the partnership expand to the mother company is no news but what attracts the eye is the uninspiring, BMW-esque, styling of the FY11. But, first, let’s see what this crossover is because it’s clear what’s not: a BMW, although it tries really hard to be one.
It is an all-wheel-drive or front-wheel-drive subcompact crossover that will probably lack some of the luxury aspirations of its Volvo-badged sibling.
Geely says it has "true sporting credentials" thanks to its lower suspension setup that makes the car handle better and, supposedly, gave more freedom to the designers. Under the hood, there’s a 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel engine capable of 235 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque.
We don’t know much else about the FY11, but we do know more about the XC40. Volvo’s first ever subcompact crossover comes with a couple of 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engines with power raging between 184 horsepower and 248 horsepower. This latter unit, which is fitted to the pricier T5, delivers a 0 to 62 mph time of 6.3 seconds linked to an 8-speed automatic transmission and, unusually, the XC40 has a towing capacity in excess of 3,500 pounds. The MSRP starts at about $35,000 while the top-of-the-line Inscription trim level costs $39,245.
The Geely will be, most likely, cheaper although it’s part of the Geely’s "more unique range of vehicles" as showcased by the presence of the Geely logo on a black background on the badges of this car.
So, if you're already feeling that it's a bit tacky to call a crossover with a roofline and rear section basically copied from BMW "part of a more unique range of vehicles," then you should know this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Firstly, let’s analyze what we have here. This isn’t an ugly vehicle as such, not at all. It has the popular narrow headlights complimented by an equally narrow grille with black elements within that mimic the shape of the grille’s frame. Below, the bumper is dominated by a few large air intakes that underline the car’s aggressiveness and its sporty demeanor. After all, it’s the most driver-oriented Geely ever, or so the automaker says anyway.
From the side, you’ve got the same rehashed coupe crossover body shape only this time around; it looks too much like a BMW. The rear is again similar to that of the X4 albeit with the taillights a bit wider and flipped. All in all, a pretty anonymous-looking car by almost all means, although Geely steadily disagrees.
The press release goes on to state that the FY11 "was designed to impress from all angles when looked upon." Well, if that’s the case with this car, I’m wondering what Marcello Gandini intended when he penned the Miura? Anyway, the same press release also praises the front end with its "confident expression." Confident that it’s part of a car that looks totally unique, maybe?
The release even mentions the roofline which is, in fact, a key design feature as it "gives the FY11 an image of a larger cat as it is pouncing, continuing Geely’s unique identity of having its designs centered on the family of cats." We agree, the FY11 is a cat, a copy-cat to be precise.
So, as you know full well, this isn't a first. Chinese automakers have been busy combining styling cues from different cars and blending them together on their own models for years.
There have been even a few lawsuits along the way, and the Chinese industry has half-heartedly taken notice of this, at least when it comes to models they intend to sell beyond the confines of their own country.
Autoexpress wanted to find out how legal all this copying is - I mean, the new Geely doesn’t have oversized kidney grilles up front - and, apparently, it’s a tough matter. Oliver Tidman, a solicitor at intellectual property law firm BRIFFA, told the British magazine that "There is no international copyright law, but there are international agreements such as the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. These require countries to recognize each other’s intellectual property laws."
He added that, at least in the U.K., "copyright law protects certain types of work, including artistic. In terms of car designs, it’s likely that copyright would subsist in any original 2D graphic – on a computer screen or a drawing.” With that being said, it’s not easy to prove that your design has been blatantly copied by another manufacturer. In short, you have to prove that the company you’re accusing of stealing your design did so knowingly instead of just randomly coming up with a design that resembles your product.
Range Rovers are some of the favorites of Chinese automakers with companies like Land Wind and Changan battling it out for who builds the best clone. Companies like Brilliance used to make awful BMW copies, but not many have surfaced in more recent times which makes the FY11 an even more awkward proposition. A few years ago, BMW sued Shuanguan for their X5-looking SCEO SUV which meant Shuanguan couldn’t sell it in Germany - such a pity.
Read our full review on the 2019 BMW X4.
Read our full review on the 2015 BMW X6.
Read our full review on the 2018 Volvo XC40.