New Chinese manufacturer Qoros has shown its new Focus and Golf rival - the GQ3 - ahead of its planned debut at the 2013 Geneva motor show.
The first in a string of models planned for launch in China and Europe, the Qoros GQ3 is at first glance a reasonably accomplished design which should be able to compete for showroom appeal with the likes of Skoda and the Korean budget brands.
Of course, what has held back Chinese car brands in the past is quality: we can't tell from these first official photos whether Qoros has cracked that or not. To tempt European brands away from trusted badges, they must have quality, showroom appeal, pricing and equipment levels completely licked…
Qoros GQ3: more details
The GQ3 is a notchback saloon, as is popular in China. In the UK, this may limit its appeal somewhat; after all, how many Ford Focus saloons do you see on our roads? But compact four-doors sell well in certain European markets, notably Mediterranean countries.
Qoros is aware of the snobbishness that surrounds Chinese cars over here. It claims spaciousness, feature-packed cabins and top performance in European and Chinese crash tests will persuade buyers to give the brand a look.
'During the development of the Qoros GQ3, we directed all our efforts towards the needs and expectations of today’s young, aspirational customers,' says Volker Steinwascher, deputy chairman of Qoros. 'They are very sensitive about design and quality, are highly sophisticated users of technology, and insist on the very best safety standards. As an entirely new brand, we have the advantage of being able to focus our efforts, without compromise or distraction, on meeting the demands of these customers.'
Who's behind Qoros?
Qoros has been a long time in the making. It was founded in 2007 as a partnership between Chery Automobile, one of China's biggest manufacturers, and Israel Corporation. Based in Changshu, it is targeting 150,000 sales a year initially, increasing to 450,000 when the site is at maximum capacity.
As you can tell by the name of the company's top brass, Qoros has been busy poaching European automotive expertise. Head of design is the former chief stylist at Mini, Gert Hildebrand. They even have a design base in Munich.
Nods to European design include the option to fit 19in wheels and, at 1839mm, the GQ3 is one of the widest cars in its class to fulfil that Skoda-alike promise of class-leading interior space. Equipment levels include standard alloys, an 8in swipe touchscreen like a smartphone and cloud connectivity with social media embedded.
See the Qoros GQ3 at the Geneva motor show in March 2013. European sales are due by late 2013 - and further models will be rolled out at six-month intervals, Qoros promises.