Gearhead News

April 20, 2021
Here Are the Most Exciting New Cars at the Shanghai Auto Show

Shanghai Auto in China is one of the first major automotive expos to return since the pandemic began. As well as numerous domestic Chinese automakers presenting their new vehicles, a number of other more familiar makes like VW, Toyota, Ford, and Lincoln previewed new machines as well.

Some of them will eventually arrive stateside, while others are destined to stay in foreign markets like China. Here are a few of the most interesting reveals that have taken place so far.

Ford

Ford Evos

The Ford Evos is a brand new fastback crossover that’s destined for China and other markets, too. Not only does the Evos share its sporty roofline with the Mustang Mach-E, but it also sports the Blue Oval’s hands-free driving tech BlueCruise and its Fully Networked Vehicle E/E architecture which allows over the air updates. Little is known about the vehicle’s drivetrain, although according to Motor1, it’s expected to be a hybrid. 

Inside, the Evos has a massive 43-inch horizontal display with two screens, one for the instrument cluster and another for infotainment. The latter is a 27-inch display that boasts 4K resolution—fancy stuff!

Unlike the other reveal from the greater Ford Motor Company—which we’ll get into next—the Evos is expected to be sold globally, where it’s rumored to replace the Ford Mondeo in Europe and the Fusion in North America. It’s unclear if this is what we’re getting instead of the previously rumored and lifted Fusion Active Wagon, but a crossover to replace a suddenly-stale sedan sounds about right.

Lincoln Zephyr Reflection

With the departure of the Continental in North America, Lincoln no longer sells any sedans stateside. Evidently, though, there’s still demand for such vehicles in China as Lincoln just debuted a concept for one, the Zephyr Reflection. It’s just a preview vehicle, but Lincoln says a production model will arrive later this year.

Since it’s a concept vehicle, there’s little in the way of specification—just a lot of design talk. The exterior is supposedly dynamic, the full-width interior screen is called “coast-to-coast,” and, of course, it’s intended for a young audience. Lincoln calls its design philosophy “Quiet Flight,” and according to the automaker, it’s on full display here. 

Details like drivetrain options and pricing are still TBA, but considering this vehicle will not come to the United States, perhaps that’s for the best. We don’t want to get too jealous.

VW ID.6

Volkswagen sells its compact ID.4 crossover here in the United States, but so far, we have yet to receive any other electric VWs under the “ID.” moniker. Right now, it’s the same case in China; however, the Asian country is set to receive at least one new German EV that the United States will likely not: the ID.6. 

The ID.6 slots in right below the Atlas SUV in terms of size—it’s a seven-passenger people-carrier with off-roading accouterments. There will be two versions of it sold in China—the ID.6 Crozz, which will be manufactured in the north of the country, and the ID.6 X, which will be manufactured in the south. Both versions get either a 58 kilowatt-hour or 77 kWh battery and they’ll have right around 300 horsepower.

Speaking to Car and Driver, a VW spokesperson hinted that, while the ID.6 twins are not U.S.-bound, a similar, Atlas-sized electric SUV might be on its way to American shores. Automotive News received similar sentiments from VW when questioning the automaker, too. Really, it would be silly not to sell a full-size SUV here in North America, electric or not.

Toyota bZ4X Concept

Toyota currently sells zero EVs. That may seem strange for the company that pioneered the hybrid Prius, but the Japanese automaker plans to change that, starting with the bZ4X. 

The first half of that alphanumerical name stands for “beyond Zero,” and the mid-size SUV shown here today previews one of several future vehicles representing this new electrification strategy. It’s still a concept, but Toyota says the vehicle—developed in concert with Subaru—is the future of the brand. It claims 15 new BEVs, seven of them under the “bZ” moniker, will arrive by 2025.

Specifics of the bZ’s drivetrain are not listed; however, Toyota says that the range of the vehicle will be “competitive,” even with standard AWD. Extra range will also be gathered from a roof-mounted solar panel.

That weird steering yoke is also making it into production. Toyota claims that thanks to a new steer-by-wire system, it can produce a ratio tight enough so that no hand shuffling is necessary. It says this will make the bZ4X more fun to drive. 

Sales of the vehicle are set to begin “around the middle of 2022,” though the automaker offers no details as to which markets will receive it and what the pricing will be. In the meantime, we can be terrified about the direction of Toyota’s design language.

Opel Manta GSe ElektroMOD

The Opel Manta A is one of those classic little European cars that made it here to the States in small numbers, so it has some kind of recognition among North American buyers. As a sporty two-door coupe with bright paint schemes and a few spritely four-cylinder engines, it’s enjoyed by the likes of Americans and Europeans alike. Now, though, there’s a new one. Or, at least, renderings of a new one.

It’s called the Manta GSe ElektroMOD, a name that rolls right off the tongue like Shenandoah. There’s little in the way of technical specs seeing as it’s just a render, but the Opel literature assures us it’s “Simply electrifying” and “Genuine Opel.” I’m sold.

And yes, in case you were wondering, the front fascia is one big LED display which Opel calls the “PIXEL VIZOR.” The Manta GSe ElektroMOD shares its lighting signature with a few other modern Opels, but of course, none sport the full-width, animated LED display of this rendering. It’s probably for the best that it’s just a drawing since you wouldn’t want to get into a fender bender with a television for headlights. 

Zeekr 001

If the brand “Zeekr” doesn’t sound familiar, well, it shouldn’t. It’s a new brand from Geely—the Chinese conglomerate that currently owns Volvo and Polestar. Like the latter, Zeekr is a premium electrified brand. Its first car, the 001, was unveiled on April 15, and unlike many of the other concepts presented at the Shangai Auto Show, it’s not an aluminized, jellybean-shaped SUV. Oh no, it’s a shooting brake. 

We’ve seen a concept of this vehicle before back in 2020, but this is the production version, so there’s more information to share. First and foremost are the specs of the electric drivetrain. The 001—really memorable name there—is powered by motors on the front and rear axle with a combined output of 536 horsepower. Power for these motors comes from one of two batteries—a smaller 86-kWh battery or a 100-kWh unit. The larger pack promises a range of 435 miles, which is reasonable for a pack that size.

Interestingly, Zeekr stresses other specifics of the vehicle’s performance besides a sub-four-second zero to 60 acceleration run (3.8 seconds in this case). Lateral acceleration can be maintained at 1G, which is an impressive figure. Just the same, the car will allegedly brake from 60 mph in just 111 feet, an impressive number for a vehicle that almost certainly weighs north of 4,000 pounds (Zeekr did not provide a weight figure.) The whole thing also rides on adjustable air suspension that Zeekr insists gives the vehicle true off-road capabilities, as it’s able to raise and lower the vehicle as much as 3.6 inches.

Pricing has yet to be announced, as are markets outside of China. However, Zeekr insists that by 2022, the 001 will sail to new shores outside of Asia. Whether that’s the United States or just Europe is unclear.

Honda SUV e:prototype

Honda

Honda’s only current electric-only model is the adorable little E, but it has a minuscule range and despite its appealing looks, its lack of ground clearance and plastic cladding would make it a hard sell in markets like the United States. As such, Honda has designed a new electric SUV prototype in an attempt to broaden its horizons. 

No, it’s not just a lifted Honda Eà la Mazda CX-30—it’s a whole new vehicle that’s more similar to the HR-V. Details are still scant, but Honda says it’s a China-only model for now, set to go on sale sometime around 2022. The Japanese automaker offered little other information besides the fact that it would be fun to drive and come with some interesting new tech. No more than one low-resolution image of the concept was provided. 

Ora Punk Cat

The Ora Punk Cat is a funky Chinese Beetle clone, pretty plain and simple. It looks like a Beetle on the outside, and on the inside, it looks like something that somebody with questionable taste would really like. 

Finding a press release for this car proved tricky, but we know it’s at Shanghai Auto because we lifted a photo from the Associated Press that shows it in a little more detail. Specs of the vehicle are scant, but we do know the production model, which will allegedly hit the streets in China this year, will be electric. Ora, for the record, is a new brand unveiled in 2018 as a subsidiary of Great Wall Motors, one of China’s largest automakers.

AP Images

That’s all for now unless an automaker decides to suddenly spring a release on us, which, hey, is possible. Some stuff we can expect to come here, while others will stay in China for now. They’re mostly EVs, although automakers are still presenting regular ICE-powered cars and a few plug-in hybrids. When the U.S. auto shows come back full-swing, you can expect The Drive to be there in the flesh.

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