/ 4 May 2024

Beijing show dazzles with debuts

Coming soon: The Chery Tiggo 9

Auto China, held in the capital Beijing, has always been a premier platform for global vehicle manufacturers to showcase their latest products. It allows them to stand shoulder to shoulder with some of China’s most promising brands, eager to enter the local market. 

Last year, we attended the Shanghai Auto Show, which was a testament to the rapid evolution of the automotive industry, with a significant presence of EVs, smart connected cars and more traditional vehicles.

The 2024 Auto China showcased some serious products and developments as consumer demand for EVs across the globe increases. We curated a selection of the most promising reveals from the event. 

Chery Tiggo 9

Chery plans to broaden its SUV line-up by launching the flagship Tiggo 9 three-row variant, which will position itself slightly above the Tiggo 8 Pro Max.

Specific details about the Tiggo 9 are not available. However, executives disclosed at the show that it will be available in selected markets before the end of the year. 

It will compete directly with other three-row SUVs, if it makes it to South Africa, which we expect given the brand’s global presence.

In terms of size, take my word for it, it’s no small SUV, a fact that’s apparent when putting it next to its Tiggo 8 counterpart. 

The Tiggo 9 is 4 810mm long, 1 925mm wide and 1 741mm tall. 

There’s an option for a five-seater variant, Chery says.

It brings a host of stunning design cues, as well as plenty of plush materials, 3D stitching on the seats, impressive cabin space with a 15.6‑inch infotainment system. 

According to Chery, the Tiggo 9 will come in plug-in hybrid electric and internal combustion powerplants. 

Lamborghini Urus SE 

Earlier this week, Lamborghini unveiled its first plug-in hybrid super-SUV, under the Urus SE nameplate.

At the show, two new Urus SE models, in red-and-white livery, took centre stage and what the SE badge brings is out of this world. 

Besides retaining the mighty 4.0‑litre V8 engine, and adding some sporty aesthetics, it offers some electrification in the form of an e-motor with 141kW and 483Nm, which is fed power by a 25.9kWh battery pack. 

The set-up is good for a total power output of 588kW and 950Nm, enough to send the SUV from 0 to 100km/h in 3.4 seconds, before maxing out at 312km/h. The SE is 0.1 seconds quicker to 100km/h.

Those who have placed orders for the Lamborghini Urus SE will probably get them before year end. 


Mini Cooper Aceman 

The last time we were acquainted with the Mini Aceman, in concept format, was at last year’s Shanghai Auto Show. It’s back — but this time in its full production attire. 

The brand intends to launch it in Mzansi as its second EV model, following the SE hatchback, by the end of the year. 

It will be available in E and SE variants, with 135kW/290Nm and 160kW/330Nm. 

The base E will accelerate silently from 0 to 100km/h in 7.9 seconds, before hitting the limiter at 160km/h, while the SE will get the same task completed in 7.1 seconds, en route to a top speed of 170km/h. 

With a 42.5kWh battery pack, Mini says the base E model will travel 310km between charges. The SE, with its 54.2kWh pack, will cover 406km before requiring a recharge.

Mini says the Aceman’s battery packs can be recharged via an AC charger with 11kW, 75kW DC for the E, and 95kW for the SE. A fast charger can boost the packs from 10% to 80% in less than 30 minutes. 

Now the wait begins. 


Mazda Arata

The Arata has to be Mazda’s main star at the show. 

It’s the brainchild of the joint venture between Mazda and Changan Automobile, and as the Japanese shift towards electrification, the Arata is a fully electric concept car.

In terms of appearance, it’s easily identifiable by its Kodo design language, which incorporates features such as slimmer and sleeker headlights, an illuminated front grille and relatively small windows.

Unfortunately, Mazda decided to keep information regarding the Arata under tight wraps but we know it will be built in China. 


Kia Sonet

The Kia Sonet maintains its popularity in the subcompact crossover SUV segment, appealing to a wide range of consumers. 

It has been on sale in South Africa since 2021 and it was in need of a major update to keep it fresh.

Initially revealed at the end of last year, the refreshed Kia Sonet made a grand entrance at the show, with redesigned front and rear fascias, as well as an interior set-up that has seen a significant overhaul, thanks to a neatly integrated 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system. 

It is likely to launch in South Africa in the coming months.


New Chery Tiggo 8 

The Chery Tiggo 8 Pro may still look new after its local debut in 2022, and it is not in desperate need of a replacement, however, the Chinese firm revealed the second generation of the popular SUV at Auto China. 

There’s no detailed information about the car at this stage but it’s worth mentioning that it has a fresh, clean look, courtesy of slimmer headlights, a large front grille with chrome accents, a set of new alloys, and redesigned rear light clusters, connected by a striking LED bar.

The interior, on the other hand, looks similar to the one fitted in the Tiggo 9. The connected hyperscreens have been replaced by a large 15.6‑inch infotainment system and a floating instrument cluster. 

Chery launched the updated Tiggo 8 range in South Africa last year, so we don’t anticipate the appearance of this new model in the immediate future.


Volkswagen ID. Code

Volkswagen took the wraps off its completed new-generation SUV, dubbed ID. Code, which debuts a new design language and a new generation of technology. 

It’s the first model to showcase the brand’s new design language — as a concept, for now. 

It was jointly designed by teams in China and Europe as a model that pays homage to Chinese VW customers and comes packed with sensors for Level 4 autonomous driving. 

According to VW, it will be able to communicate with owners via exterior and interior displays.

While the concept car was specifically developed with Volkswagen’s Chinese customers in mind, we anticipate that elements of its technology and design language will be incorporated into future VW products worldwide. 


Electric Mercedes-Benz G-Class 

I might seem surreal, but Mercedes-Benz finally has an electric variant of the G-Class that is based on the regular ladder-frame concept. 

In its G580 guise, it comes fitted with a 116kWh battery pack, which feeds power to four individually controlled electric motors and enables an EV range of up to 473km. 

Its power is formidable. The electric motors generate a substantial 432kW and a mountain-moving 1,164Nm of torque. 

To make it a superb off-road capable electric SUV, it features a selectable low-range, off-road gear reduction system, independent front suspension, a rigid axle at the rear, torque vectoring, as well as innovative features such as G-Turn, G-Steering and an intelligent off-road crawl function.

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GWM P-Series 500 Sport 

GWM’s local bakkie range is poised to welcome a new addition by the end of the year — the P500 Sport, which is essentially a rebadged version of the Shanhai Cannon. 

The P500 Sport is equipped with a 3.0-litre V6 turbocharged petrol engine, delivering 260kW and 500Nm of torque. Larger 18-inch, all-terrain wheels and K-Man nitrogen shock absorbers will further improve its off-road capabilities. 

These features collectively position the P500 Sport as a robust and adventure-ready vehicle.


In terms of power output, the P500 Sport appears ready to compete with established models, such as the Ford Ranger Raptor, which boasts 292kW and 583Nm. 

When it comes to SA, it will be intriguing to observe how it fares against other bakkies in the market.