In Review

Shanghai Motor Show 2019: Audi AI:ME, Mini Clubman and more

From sporty SUVs to futuristic concepts, these are the cars set to stun fans in China this week

There are just a couple of days to go until the Shanghai Motor Show opens its doors to the public. It’s the first major motoring event of the year in China, and runs for eight days from 18 April until the 25th.

Scores of new models were unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show last month, many of them by major carmakers, but several production cars and concept vehicles will nonetheless make their debut at the Chinese event.

The event gets under way just a few days before the New York International Auto Show, which runs from 19 to 29 April. The US event tends to focus on carmakers from North America, but the Chinese show features many European firms.

Here are the key cars set to appear in Shanghai over the coming days:

Audi AI:me
Audi AI:MEColour: Aurora Silver

Audi AI:ME

AUDI AG

The Shanghai Motor Show opens to the media tomorrow, but that hasn’t stopped Audi from unveiling its new AI:ME concept car.

As its name suggests, the AI:ME is an artificial intelligence (AI) powered autonomous car with a focus on vehicle sharing, says Auto Express. Audi hopes the car can be used with a smartphone app so that people can hail the car when they’re in need of a short trip across a busy town or city. 

Given that the car does all the driving, the AI:ME’s steering wheel can be retracted at the push of a button on your smartphone, the motoring magazine says. There are even “magnetised areas” around the cabin, which can hold “metal plates and cups” so users can enjoy a meal while on the move. 

The AI:ME isn’t expected to reach the production line, but a number of the car’s futuristic features will appear on the company’s upcoming models.

BMW X3M and X4M Coupe

BMW will be taking the covers off its new X3M and X4M Coupe SUVs in Shanghai next week. Both vehicles are designed to rival Alfa Romeo’s performance-focused Stelvio Quadrifoglio crossover. 

What sets the X3M and X4M Coupe apart is their body style. The X3M takes the form of a conventional SUV with a tall roofline to accommodate a large boot. The X4M Coupe, meanwhile, has a roofline that slopes downwards towards the rear, compromising practicality in favour of a sleeker overall look. 

Otherwise, the two cars are mechanically identical, says Auto Express. Both are based on the standard X3 and X4 crossovers, and are powered by 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engines. The X3M will produce around 476bhp, while the X4M ups the figure to 506bhp. 

Mercedes-Benz GLB concept

Mercedes-Benz plans to unveil its smallest SUV yet at next week’s show. The GLB concept will preview a new production crossover that’s expected to go up against the Audi Q2 and BMW X2 in the compact SUV market.

Only one design sketch of the concept’s interior has been revealed in the run-up to the event. The image suggests the car’s cabin will feature the same “long” infotainment screen and digital instrument panel as the current A-Class hatchback, says Top Gear.

Mini Clubman

Mini’s Clubman has been on sale in its current guise for around four years. To keep up with rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf and Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Mini will unveil an updated version of its popular estate in Shanghai later this week. 

The British marque, owned by BMW, isn’t expected to radically overhaul the estate, says Autocar. Instead, the update should bring with it “subtle” styling tweaks and a few upgrades to the interior options list. 

Prices aren’t expected to deviate too far from the current model’s £19,000 tag.

Karma-Pininfarina concept

Karma, an electric car firm born out of the collapse of Fisker Automotive in 2014, will be taking the covers off its first concept car at the Chinese show. 

The unnamed concept has been developed in partnership with the Italian design house Pininfarina, the company behind iconic cars such as the Ferrari Testarossa and the Lanica 037. The concept will take the form of a luxury sports car, Autocar reports. 

A preview image [pictured above] gives fans a glimpse of the concept car’s “angular” styling and “streamlined” front end, but for now the Chinese-backed firm is remaining “tight-lipped” about the car’s specs, says the magazine.

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