Auto Shanghai 2021 was the first major auto show to be held since the pandemic hit, with press days occurring on April 19th and 20th, followed by a public show running until April 28th, 2021.
This year it wasn't the established automakers that stormed the show. Rather, it was China's domestic brands that put their mark on their home show for the first time.
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Audi also used the show to unveil the A7L, a long-wheelbase A7 that swaps the hatchback rear of the regular model, a Sportback in Audi parlance, for a traditional trunk lid. It means there are now two body styles for the A7, the regular A7 Sportback hatch and the new A7L sedan. The latter is exclusive to the Chinese market like so many other long-wheelbase specials.
The wheelbase of the A7L measures in at 119.1 inches, making it about 3.85 inches longer than on the A7 Sportback. The extra space is used to increase legroom in the rear. Remember, a lot of wealthy vehicle owners in China choose to ride in the back and hire someone to do the driving for them.
The A7L has been developed by a joint venture between Audi and Chinese automaker SAIC and will enter production later this year. The version shown in Shanghai is a special First Edition limited to 1,000 units. It packs all the top features of the A7 line including adaptive air suspension, all-wheel steering, and all-wheel drive.
The sole powertrain announced is a 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 with mild-hybrid tech. The setup is rated at 335 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque and sends drive to the wheels via a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Ford Evos Crossover Coupe
The Ford Evos debuted Monday at Auto Shanghai 2021 as the automaker's latest crossover for the Chinese market. There are also rumors that Ford plans to attach the Fusion name to the U.S.-market Evos, meaning it could end up badged as the Fusion Active. Ford uses the Active designation for soft-roaders sold overseas, including the Fiesta Active and Focus Active. Ford planned to import the Focus Active from China, but the recent U.S.-China trade dispute put an end to that.
Borrowing the name of a 2011 concept car that provided a styling preview of the second-generation Fusion, the Evos has a tall ride height, but a low, sleek roofline. It's a similar formula to the "crossover coupes" pioneered by luxury automakers.
On the inside, the Evos gets an infotainment display that nearly spans the width of the dashboard. It includes a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 27.0-inch 4K touchscreen mounted side by side, and running Ford's Sync+ 2.0 operating system. The driver and front passenger can use that vast expanse of screen space to view different things, according to Ford. For example, the front passenger can view "entertainment content" on their side of the screen while the driver uses the navigation system. The system is also capable of over-the-air (OTA) software updates.
The Evos will also be available with BlueCruise, Ford's recently-branded driver-assist tech. Set to debut in the U.S. later this year on the 2021 Ford F-150 and 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, BlueCruise can operate the steering, braking, and throttle on designated stretches of highway provided the driver is paying attention (an onboard camera monitors the driver). Because the driver must remain engaged, this system corresponds to Level 2 on the SAE vehicle-automation scale.
Ford did not discuss powertrains, or U.S. availability, but camouflaged test vehicles spotted earlier this year indicate the Evos might be coming here. Given its overall shape, the Evos could be positioned as a high-riding wagon, similar to the Subaru Outback or the discontinued Buick Regal TourX.
Lincoln Zephyr Reflection Concept
The Lincoln Zephyr Reflection concept previews a production model for the Chinese market that will appear later this year, the automaker said in a press release. That model is unlikely to reach the U.S., where Lincoln has shifted its lineup entirely to SUVs.
The styling is a rework of Lincoln's current "Quiet Flight" design philosophy seen on recent SUVs, with new additions like flush door handles and large air intakes flanking the grille. A lighting strip connecting the headlights, and bisected by the Lincoln grille badge, is a novel feature as well. Most of the lighting activates when approaching or walking away from the car, part of Lincoln's "Embrace" and "Farewell" features.
The interior gets what Lincoln calls a "coast-to-coast" screen, the automaker's name for the dashboard-spanning screens that now seem obligatory in luxury cars. Composed of three elements, the screen provides different functions for the driver and front passenger, Lincoln said. Some of that functionality will be part of a new human-machine interface (HMI) dubbed "Constellation." It reconfigures the display based on three themes—Normal, Sport, and Zen—with designs based on a night sky, according to Lincoln.
Lincoln didn't provide any details on the powertrain. That will have to wait for the launch of the production version later this year.
Case in point was a new hypercar from luxury brand Hongqi. The hypercar is called the S9, and it features a V-8-based plug-in hybrid powertrain good for 1,400 hp. Just 99 examples are expected to be built.
Hongqi also used the Shanghai auto show to present a flagship concept. Called the Hongqi L-Concept, the show car is a striking sedan with a fastback profile, suicide-style doors, and we're told even hanging mood lighting with crystal elements.
Zeekr (Ji Ke in China), Geely's new brand designed to target Tesla with sporty cars packed with the latest in-vehicle technology, showed its first product. That first product was a handsome hot hatch with over 500 hp on tap.
2022 Xpeng P5
Xpeng presented the P5 in Shanghai, a small electric sedan with world-first self-driving technology. The P5 is the first production vehicle fitted with lidar, a technology that enables it to sense a much wider environment than if it relied on radar and camera systems alone.
A cashed-up electric-vehicle startup by the name of Hengchi unveiled a total of nine vehicles, one of which was a Tesla Model S rival. Hengchi, which plans to start production of its first model in 2022, is the parent company of NEVS, the company that tried to save Saab.
MG Cyberster Concept
MG isn't a Chinese brand, but its parent company, SAIC, is one of the country's biggest automakers. In Shanghai, MG unveiled a striking concept that teases a rival to electric sports cars like the Tesla Roadster.
Audi A6 E-Tron Concept
But what about non-Chinese automakers? Audi surprised everyone with its stunning A6 E-Tron Concept. The stunning electric sedan is one of 20 EVs Audi plans to have in its lineup by 2025, and we should see it on sale in 2023.
Toyota bZ4X Concept
And finally, Toyota used the show to preview its first volume EV, also with a thinly veiled concept. It's called the BZ4X, and its production counterpart should be at dealerships in 2022.