Published: 09 March 2007

Low key but not for long

It’s not often a manufacturer unveils three new cars on its stand but Brilliance JinBei Automobile did just that. Not that you’d notice – sandwiched in between a number of specialist marques with unpronounceable names, the European debut of the BS6 and BS4 saloons and BC3 coupe (above) didn’t attract too many camera flashguns. But make no mistake, Brilliance will, we predict, be an automotive household name 10 years from now. The Japanese did it, the Koreans did it and now the Chinese will do it. Only quicker. As if Ford, Volkswagen and GM don’t have enough to worry about…

Italian design, European feel, low prices

While the 4.8m-long BS6 was a bit naff and nondescript, the chunky BS4 by Giugiaro (above) could have passed for a BMW 5-series, although it’s more 3-series sized. And the snappy Pininfarina-penned BC3 coupe ticked plenty of boxes with its balanced proportions, European feel, athletic stance and absence of gauche detailing. Shutlines were tight and even, plastics felt soft and expensive, and build quality seemed solid enough. They will be sold in left-hand-drive only on the Continent by importer HSO Motors Europe, but expect UK sales to start within the next 36 months, with bargain prices. Power comes from an in-house developed 1.8-litre four-pot developing 135bhp or 170bhp in turbo form, with the choice of five-speed manual or automatic transmissions. The airbag count is high, and the goodies list long – hardly a surprise as Brilliance has forged alliances with Toyota and Mitsubishi, and was advised on production by BMW. Expect Brilliance’s stand Geneva 2008 to be much bigger and much more closely watched.

By Ben Whitworth

Contributing editor, sartorial over-achiever, HANS device shirt collars