The Chinese car market is one of the most diverse in the world, with almost 500 locally produced passenger car models from more than 70 domestic and foreign brands, as you can see in our 2016 Chinese car sales analysis. If we include imported vehicles, minivans, pickups and commercial vehicles, there are more than 1.000 different models available. In the January 2017 Chinese car sales ranking, we welcome 6 new models: 5 SUVs and a sedan and in the February 2017 ranking, we welcome 4 new models: 2 crossovers, an MPV and a sedan. A few of these models haven’t officially been launched yet, but show up in the rankings due to demo sales.
Baojun has launched a second new model in six months time and this 510 crossover is one of its best looking designs, especially from the front, with its squinting headlights that are visually connected to the grille by a chrome line. The sharp crease running from headlight to taillight and through the door handles makes for an attractive side design, together with the floating roof and the squared off wheel arches, although it should ride a bit lower to reduce the huge gap between the wheels and the arches.. Surprisingly, while a lot of these characteristics are familiar from other brands (Citroën, DS, Suzuki, Range Rover), the combination still looks like an original design. In the interior Baojun also shows it’s one of the more mature brands among domestics, with attractive design: an 8-inch screen on top of the center console in Mercedes-Benz style, Mini-style toggle switches underneath it and lots of “metal” frames.
Power is supplied by a familiar 1,5-liter engine that also powers the Wuling Hongguang and is closely related to the one you’ll find in a number of Chevrolet models. It pumps out 111hp and 147Nm, mated to a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic. Dimensions are 4.220/1.740/1.605mm with a 2.550mm wheelbase. Prices run from 59.800 to 75.800 yuan (from € 8.050,-/US$ 8,650 to € 10.200,-/US$ 10,950). The 510 had a promising start with 8.086 sales in February, beating its rivals Changan CS15 (6.949 sales) and Soueast DX3 (6.916 sales) in its first month.
Brilliance has been struggling since the second half of last year as its crossover V5 faced increasing competition and some cannibalization from the smaller V3, but the brand’s sedan sales were falling too as the H330 was starting to age. The H330 has been replaced by the new H3 which offers an attractive fastback design which should help forget is predecessor quickly. The H3 is available with two engines: a naturally aspirated 1,5-liter with 110hp and a turbocharged 1,5-liter with 147hp, both mated to a 5-speed manual. Dimensions are 4.640/1.790/1.445mm with a 2.660mm wheelbase. Prices range from 63.900 to 88.900 yuan (from € 8.600,-/US$ 9,250 to € 11.950,-/US$ 12,850). After selling 499 units in January, sales improved to 2.541 in February, making it the brand’s best selling sedan and #2 overall. With that figure it beats the Dongfeng Joyear S50 (1.757 sales) but is far behind the Geely Emgrand GL (8.027 sales) and Chery Arrizo 5 (10.768 sales).
Zotye has been on a launching spree for crossovers and SUVs lately, and none of them features original design. The brand introduced the Audi Q3 clone SR7 exactly one year ago, then came the Porsche Macan clone SR9 and now it has outdone itself with the Damai X7 which is not just cloned from an existing VW Group product but rather from a concept car: the Volkswagen Crossblue concept. After the Damai X5 this is also the second model with the Damai (in English: Domy) name which could grow into a subbrand in the future.
The Damian X7 has two engine options: a 1,5-liter turbo with 150hp / 210Nm with a 5-speed manual or a 1,8-liter with 170hp / 245Nm mated to a 6-speed DCT. Dimensions are 4.738/1.928/1.665mm with a 2.850mm wheelbase. Prices range from 104.900 to 130.900 yuan (from € 14.100,-/US$ 15,200 to € 17.600,-/US$ 18,950). With 2.564 sales in its first month, the X7 makes a promising entrance but it has plenty of room to grow, as rivals like the Geely Boyue (20.137) , Changan CS75 (20.654 sales) and certainly the Haval H6 (33.684 sales) sell a multitude of that figure. But there’s a sidenote: although Zotye is growing fast thanks to its copied designs, the brand still has much less brand recognition and a much smaller dealer network than those brands. Perhaps the comparison to the Roewe RX5 (10.977 sales) is a better comparison.
Kia already imports the large crossover Sorento to China from South-Korea, and now adds a very similar locally produced model to it: the KX7. The model has a sharper grille and headlights than the Sorento, and the C-pillar and rear design is also slightly different. What’s more, the KX7 has an 8cm shorter wheelbase than its original and is 5cm shorter overall. Dimensions are 4.730/1.890/1.690mm with a 2.700mm wheelbase. And whereas the Sorento is available with an optional diesel engine outside the big cities, the KX7 only has three petrol engine options: a 2-liter with 163hp/203Nm, a 2,4-liter with 188hp/241Nm and a 2-liter turbo with 241hp/353Nm, all mated to 6-speed manuals or 6-speed automatic gearboxes. Four-wheel drive is optional, except on the non-turbo 2-liter.
Thanks to local production, it’s a lot cheaper than the Sorento and both models will be sold alongside each other. The imported Sorento is priced from 237.800 to 362.600 yuan (from € 32.000,-/US$ 34,400 to € 48.800,-/US$ 52,500) and the locally produced KX7 fits exactly under that, with prices ranging from 179.800 to 276.800 yuan (from € 24.200,-/US$ 26,000 to € 37.250,-/US$ 40,000). Those prices put the KX7 on par with the Buick Envision (14.490 sales in February), below the Ford Edge (7.128 sales) and above the larger GAC Trumpchi GS8 (7.005 sales). We don’t have sales figures of the Sorento, because it’s an import model, so we can’t compare sales of the two. The KX7 started with 298 sales in January and 913 sales in February, so that leaves plenty of room to grow looking at the figures of its rivals. However, the upcoming Skoda Kodiaq looks a lot more modern and could be priced competitively as well, making its hard for the KX7 to actually break through.
BMW has started local production of its 1-Series sedan, based on the front-wheel drive platform of the X1 and 2-Series Active Tourer, which are also produced in China. For now, the 1-Series sedan is planned to remain a China-only model, but this would be a great rival to the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLA in the US as well so those plans could change. It sure looks the part, with excellent proportions and clearly on a different platform than its hatchback siblings which are imported to China. From the rear it actually looks like a previous generation 3-Series and that’s not a bad thing either. The interior is very like that of the X1, with which it shares its platform.
There are three versions available in China: a 118i in Base, Luxury and Sport with a 1,5-liter turbo engine with 136hp/220Nm, a 120i Luxury with a 2-liter turbo with 192hp/280Nm, and a 125i Sport with a 2-liter turbo with 231hp/350Nm. Prices range from 204.800 to 319.800 yuan (from € 27.500,-/US$ 29,600 to € 43.000,-/US$ 46,300). The imported 1-Series 5-door in the same 118i version starts at 256.000 yuan (€ 34.450,- / US$ 37,050). IN its first (partial) month of sales, the 1-Series sold 887 units, compared to 4.717 sales for the Audi A3 and a whopping 74 sales for the DS 4S hatchback. The Mercedes-Benz CLA is imported so we don’t have those data.
Dongfeng has launched the second model under the Fengdu subbrand, following the MX6 in 2015. It will be followed later this year by the MX3. The Fengdu MX5 is very similar to the Dongfeng Fengshen AX7 except for the different grille, bumpers and lights. Which one you prefer is a matter of taste, but I personally think the AX7 looks a bit more modern. Dongfeng and Beijing Auto (BAIC) are known for launching similar models under different subbrands, catering to (slightly) different target audiences. Whether this works remains to be seen, it didn’t work for Chery a few years ago, but as opposed to Chery, these two take most of their profits from Joint Ventures with foreign automakers and can afford to waste money on experimenting with what works for their domestic brands. The MX5 is a bit of a hodgepodge of technology: the chassis comes from a previous generation Honda CR-V, the engine and gearbox is supplied by PSA and it’s built by a Joint Venture with Nissan in Zhengzhou, China.
The MX5 is powered by the same engines as the AX7: a 1,4-liter turbo with 140hp and a 2-liter with 147hp, mated to a 6-speed manual or a CVT. The MX5 doesn’t get the 2,3-liter engine option. Dimensions are: 4.720/1.850/1.727mm with a 2.712mm wheelbase. Prices range from 103.500 to 135.500 yuan (€ 13.900,-/US$ 14,950 to € 18.250,-/US$ 19,600), similar to the AX7. Other rivals are the Haval H6 (79.677 sales in the first 2 months of 2017), Changan CS75 (47.146 sales) and FAW Besturn X80 (3.844 sales). The MX5 started with 654 sales in January and didn’t appear in the February ranking.
The Huansu S5 won’t be officially launched until March 30th, but its first few demo registrations are already appearing in the rankings. The Huansu S5 is a cheap crossover with a huge Lexus-inspired grille and will compete in one of the most competitive segments in China. It’s not an entirely new model, as Beijing Auto likes to launch competing models of multiple (sub)brands on the same platform, only to find out they’re cannibalizing each other. The S5 is built on the platform of the Beijing Senova X55 and is powered by a new engine that will be launched in many more models under the BAIC umbrella, among others the recently launched Bisu T3. This is a 1,3-liter turbo with 133hp/185Nm, mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox or a CVT. Dimensions are 4.405/1.809/1.685mm with a 2.650mm wheelbase. Prices are lower than the X55 at 69.800 to 79.800 yuan (€ 9.400,-/US$ 10,100 to € 10.750,-/US$ 11,550), which is abot 7.000 yuan less than the Senova X55. Other competitors are the Changan CS35 (32.041 sales in the first two months), Chery Tiggo 3 (15.630 sales) and Dongfeng Fengshen AX3 (6.107 sales).
The CS95 hasn’t officially started sales yet, but like the Huansu S5 the first few demo models have been delivered to dealers and therefore it shows up in our rankings. It’s Changan’s largest SUV to date, with 7-seat capacity and dimensions of 4.949/1.930/1.785m with a 2.810mm wheelbase, which makes it a competitor to the GAC Trumpchi GS8 (16.423 sales in the first two months of 2017) and Haval H8 (1.155 sales). The GS8 starts just over 160.000 yuan (€ 21.500,-/US$23,200) and the CS95 will be priced similarly. It’s powered by a 2-liter turbo engine with 218hp/350Nm, mated to a 6-speed automatic gearbox. Four-wheel drive will also be available. Styling appears to have taken a few clues from the Toyota Highlander.
Like the Huansu S5 and CS95, we already see the Volkswagen Teramont appear in the sales rankings thanks to the first few demo registrations, as the model hasn’t been officially launched yet (which will happen March 22). The Teramont is the locally produced Chinese version of the US Volkswagen Atlas. It fills the gap between the Tiguan L (also produced by Shanghai-Volkswagen) and the imported Touareg. The Teramont is a big SUV, probably the biggest car yet on VW’s MQB platform: dimensions are 5.039/1.989/1.773mm with a 2.980mm wheelbase. Three engine options will be available: a 330TSI with a 2-liter turbo with 186hp/320Nm, a 380TSI with the same engine but with 220hp/350Nm and the top-of-the-line 530 V6 with a 2,5-liter turbo V6 with 299hp/500Nm.
Prices have not yet been released, but competitors are the Toyota Highlander (18.173 sales in the first two months) and Ford Edge (16.324 sales), priced from around 250.000 yuan (€ 33.650,-/US$ 36,200) and Volkswagen will probably set its pricing just above that, and will aim to sell more than 10.000 units a month in China.
Like the Huansu S5, CS95 and Teramont, the Changan Linmax (Chinese name: Lingxuan) has not officially been launched yet but has already started to appear in the ranking with the first handful of demo registrations. The Linmax is a cheap domestic 7-seat MPV as we’ve already seen a dozen launched in the past year. Unfortunately for the Linmax, it’s a bit late to the party and the segment that was still booming last year has turned to decline in 2017. Power will come from the familiar naturally aspirated 1,6-liter four-cylinder with 125hp/160Nm that you can also find in the Changan CS35 among others. The gearbox is either a 5-speed manual or a 5-speed automatic. Dimensions are 4.730/1.795/1.730mm with a 2.760mm wheelbase. Prices have not yet been released but expect it to be cheap: starting below 80.000 yuan (€ 10.750,-/US$11,500). There’s a whole bunch of rivals out there in various degrees of succes, among others the Chery Cowin V3 (1.003 sales in February), Huansu H3 (8.013 sales) and Baojun 730 (23.036 sales).
The Lingxuan will hit the market in the first quarter of 2017. It will cost about 80.000 yuan. It will be powered by a 1.6 liter four-cylinder petrol engine with 125 hp, sending those horses to the front wheels via a five-speed manual or a five-speed automatic. Size: 4730/1795/1730, and wheelbase is 2760.