How China will influence your next car

Published: 18 May 2012

How depressing that, according to so many motoring pundits, the headline grabbing star of the recent Beijing Auto show was a 600bhp V12 Lamborghini SUV. The new Rambo Lambo is about as in tune with the modern mood as a gun-wielding Sly Stallone running amok in the Vietnamese jungle.

The Urus is more truck than track star, and about as ‘on brand’ as Riva deciding that there must be good money in building supertankers as well as delectably detailed speedboats. It is the latest sad example of European premium makers’ obsession with fast-buck easy-money SUVs, brand credibility be damned. Bentley, Maserati, Porsche, maybe Alfa, they’re all at it, trying to launch pricey SUVs with no credibility and no integrity.
What next? A Ferrari SUV? The thought is just too depressing.

No refreshingly different cars at Beijing

Just as disheartening as the Lambo’s elevated coverage was the lack of any other show stars at Beijing. I know that China is a motoring newcomer and we can hardly expect their car show to preview spiritual successors to the Mini, Renault Espace and Citroen DS all in one go.
But the total lack of any ‘think different’ car from any local maker – not even a single refreshing concept car – was a real shame. Where was the intelligence, the fruits of all those thousands of engineers being trained every year to give China a technological edge over the West?

Who will lead us into a bold new ‘motoring’ tomorrow of clean urban mobility (rather than perpetual gridlock), of interesting and efficient transport? Who will challenge the vested interests and the status quo?

Where are the real-world solutions?

Yes, yes, of course I want to see supercars and V12s and sports cars and proper all-terrain SUVs and all the other catwalk cars that help give the auto business a touch of showbiz glamour and ooh-ah appeal. That’s why you and I love it. But give me some intelligent real world solutions to motoring’s mounting problems too, especially at an industry showcasing motor salon.

I had high hopes for China, where the industry is new, the budgets big, and the problems vast – and growing vaster almost by the week. (Traffic and pollution are appalling.) Those hopes are fading.

On a more cheerful note it’s been a long time since an MG was a motor show star. The Icon, British designed despite Chinese ownership, was a novel concept, part small SUV and part sports car, with an appealing quirkiness and a styling lineage that harks back to some old MG roadsters.

At least that cheered me up as I sat in a traffic jam on my way back from the show.

By Gavin Green

Contributor-in-chief, former editor, anti-weight campaigner, voice of experience