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Highlights From the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show

4/23/2013
China is quickly becoming one of the hottest car markets on the planet. For example, General Motors sells as many cars in China as it does in the United States, and the company expects China to be the largest global car market by 2022. GM plans to open four new assembly plants in China between now and 2015, and plans to expand its dealer network from 3,800 to 5,100 by the middle of the decade.

The 2013 Auto Shanghai (Shanghai Auto Show), then, is poised to become one of the dominant international auto shows. This year, several luxury brands selected Shanghai as the place to reveal new models, even if many were presented in concept format. Here, we take a look at several of the vehicles that debuted in China, in both conceptual and production format, presented in alphabetical order.

Acura Concept SUV-X
Though the Acura RDX is just one year old and the redesigned 2014 Acura MDX isn't yet in showrooms, Honda's luxury division used the Shanghai Auto Show to display the Acura Concept SUV-X. According to Acura, the Concept SUV-X is a "global concept vehicle for a small SUV developed primarily for the Chinese market," and that the sport/utility will combine "emotional and sharp styling" with "driving [and] environmental performance." Acura confirms that a production version of this vehicle will be offered and produced in China within the next three years.


BMW X4 Concept
Though the BMW X4 will be produced in Spartanburg, South Carolina, the automaker chose to unveil the concept version of the new Sports Activity Coupe (SAC) at the Shanghai Motor Show. Rumors suggest that the X4 is based upon the current BMW X3 platform, equipped with a fastback body style and "eye-catching proportions" that promise "outstanding performance and driving dynamics," according to BMW. Other than confirming rear-drive and xDrive all-wheel-drive, and reporting that the BMW X4 will begin production in 2014, BMW isn't divulging many details about its new SAC.


Buick Riviera Concept
Developed by Shanghai GM and the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC), the Buick Riviera Concept may never see the light of day, but the automaker says it shows where Buick is headed in terms of its future design, powertrain, and technology. Dressed in "avant-garde design" inspired by the Chinese saying "the greatest good is like water," the Riviera Concept is equipped with a Buick Intelligent Performance plug-in hybrid powertrain that offers wireless re-charging capability. High-speed 4G LTE network access is on board, and the Riviera Concept is equipped with touch- and gesture-recognition controls, holographic information displays, and an Intelligent Driver Assist System with lots of safety technology including auto-pilot and "transparent A-pillar" systems.


Mercedes-Benz GLA Concept
The Mercedes-Benz GLA Concept is a compact crossover SUV based on the same platform as the upcoming Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class. Mercedes is clear about what powers the GLA Concept: a turbocharged, 208-horsepower, 4-cylinder engine, 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission, and 4Matic all-wheel drive. Remaining details are divided between fantasy and reality, but the Mercedes GLA Concept's laser-beam projector headlight technology is one element that the automaker is trying to bring to production. Mercedes did not confirm GLA production in Shanghai, except to say that the concept vehicle "makes clear the further potential of our compact vehicle architecture."


2014 Maserati Ghibli
The 2014 Maserati Ghibli's debut in Shanghai marks the first time the Italian automaker has sold a midsize luxury sports sedan, and the company sees the Ghibli, and the Chinese market, as critical to its goal of selling 50,000 cars annually by 2015. The rear-drive Ghibli is the first Maserati equipped with a diesel engine, in addition to a twin-turbocharged V-6. The company's new Q4 all-wheel-drive system is available as an option. The 2014 Ghibli arrives in global showrooms later this year.



Mitsubishi Concept G4
The Mitsubishi Concept G4 actually debuted in Thailand at the Bangkok International Motor Show, but was on display in Shanghai just days afterward. Previewing a "new compact sedan that [Mitsubishi] plans to roll out globally," the Concept G4 is essentially a 4-door version of the new 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage, replacing the Mirage's hatchback with a traditional trunk. A 1.2-liter 3-cylinder engine and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) are charged with motivating what Mitsubishi says is a sedan that's "lightest in its class."




Nissan Friend-Me Concept
Aimed at young Chinese consumers, 240 million of which were born during the 1980s, a demographic contingent "destined to emerge as the world's largest single market segment" according to Nissan, the Friend-Me Concept is a 4-passenger, 5-door vehicle styled to look great at night under bright city lights, the automaker says. The Nissan Friend-Me Concept is based on an existing vehicle platform. It is equipped with a Pure Drive hybrid powertrain employing a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine.



2014 Porsche Panamera
Porsche debuted a revamped 2014 Panamera lineup in Shanghai, including a new extended-wheelbase version designed for executives who prefer to ride in the back seat rather than sit behind the steering wheel. The Panamera S models swap their V-8 engine for a new twin-turbocharged V-6, and a new Panamera S E-Hybrid that can be used as an electric vehicle with 20 miles of range, whenever the driver deems it necessary or preferable. Additional upgrades are related to new connectivity and safety technologies. The new 2014 Panamera goes on sale in the fall of 2013.

2014 Porsche Panamera Preview
2013 Porsche Panamera Summary, Photos & Specs
2012 Porsche Panamera Quality Ratings


Volkswagen CrossBlue Coupe Concept
The Volkswagen CrossBlue Coupe Concept is a 5-passenger version of the 7-passenger Volkswagen CrossBlue Concept that debuted earlier this year. It has a rakish profile and the third-row seat has been eliminated. A plug-in hybrid powertrain with EV, Eco, Sport, Off-Road, and Charge driving modes is installed in the CrossBlue Coupe Concept, generating 415 horsepower, supplying 21 miles of electric propulsion, and delivering acceleration to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, according to VW. "The CrossBlue Coup?...will undoubtedly have an influence on future SUV models," said Klaus Bischoff, head of design for the Volkswagen brand.


Highlights from other recent Auto Shows: