Chinese auto shows traditionally star very few new models that end up going on sale in North America, but this year’s edition of Auto Shanghai (April 18-27) had several notable world premieres we’ll actually see on our shores sooner or later.
Time for the Germans to Shine
We told you last week about the significantly revised and improved 2024 Porsche Cayenne, which features fresh styling, more power and a new human-machine interface inspired by the Taycan electric sedan, but other automakers from Germany also made waves in Shanghai.
BMW introduced a high-performance variant of the i7 electric sedan that will launch in global markets in the second half of 2023 (starting at $185,000 in Canada). The new i7 M70 xDrive is not only BMW’s most powerful electric vehicle to date with 650 horsepower, but also the quickest-accelerating with 0-100 km/h sprints in just 3.7 seconds. That’s amazing considering it weighs 2,689 kg.
The i7 M70 xDrive reportedly achieves 474 km of range based on EPA calculations, so expect a similar figure in Canada. A new MAX RANGE mode restricts drive power and top speed and scales back comfort functions to preserve the 105.7kWh battery (101.7 kWh usable capacity).
While BMW M engineers modified the chassis and suspension, designers illuminated the contour of the double-kidney grille, slapped on M side skirts and blacked out the mirror caps. Several paint colours reserved exclusively for BMW M models are available, and customers can add an extra layer of visual impact with two-tone paintwork. Think it looks good?
The most important German car on display at Auto Shanghai was arguably the all-new Volkswagen ID.7, a flagship sedan and electric replacement for the discontinued Passat that shares its MEB platform with the current ID.4 crossover. It boasts a much more aerodynamic profile and a practical rear hatch instead of a conventional trunk lid.
It’s the first Volkswagen to feature the German automaker’s new display and operating concept, combining a Tesla-like, 15-inch centre touchscreen with augmented-reality head-up display. Massaging front seats, ambient lighting, an electronically dimmable panoramic sunroof and a 14-speaker, 700W Harman Kardon sound system are optionally available.
With regard to performance, the ID.7 uses a completely new, highly efficient drive unit. Rated at 282 horsepower and 402 lb-ft. of torque, the motor drives the rear axle. And we assume a dual-motor AWD variant will follow at some point. In North America, a 77kWh battery (usable capacity) will provide a range of around 500 km. Look for the ID.7 to hit the market sometime next year as a 2025 model.
4 After 3 After 2
Amid a beautiful garden of tulips at Auto Shanghai, Polestar unveiled a new electric crossover coupe called Polestar 4. Logic be damned, this model will be positioned between the Polestar 2 liftback sedan and the upcoming Polestar 3 SUV in terms of size and price.
Inspired by the Precept concept, the Polestar 4 is capped by a full-length glass roof with optional electrochromic functionality and eliminates the rear window. In its place, a digital rear-view mirror inside shows a live feed from a roof-mounted rear camera. Polestar says it wanted to enable a new kind of immersive experience for rear occupants, but where visibility is concerned, this will be a big change for drivers.
Did we mention the Polestar 4 is the quickest-accelerating production car the brand has ever developed? The 0-100 km/h sprint can be completed in 3.8 seconds thanks to maximum output of 536 horsepower and 506 lb-ft. of torque in the dual-motor AWD variant. Maximum range should be just under 500 km based on North American standards.
The new Polestar 4 will first launch in China, with production planned to begin in Hangzhou Bay in November 2023. Details for our market will be presented in 2024, with the vehicle arriving later that year as a 2025 model.
Strange Sights from Shanghai
Auto Shanghai 2023 also had lots of new vehicles designed with the Chinese market in mind. And some of those were admittedly quite eye-popping or just plain weird. We have three examples to show you—don’t miss the pictures at the bottom of the page.
First, HiPhi unveiled an electric crossover called Y that features two-piece rear doors with the bottom half opening outwards and the top half opening upwards. Why? We’re not sure. Maybe to get the Tesla Model X jealous?
As the most expensive car in China, the Hongqi L5 is like the Far East’s equivalent of a Rolls-Royce Ghost. Introduced in Shanghai was the second-generation model, with a turbocharged V8 engine under the long hood and behind the funny-looking front end.
And finally, the next-generation LM hybrid minivan from Lexus sports one of the most controversial faces ever. It will be sold in over 60 countries including Japan and Europe for the first time. Despite the 48-inch screen inside, we’re not complaining that it won’t be offered in Canada.