This zebra-striped saloon is the latest offspring of the partnership between China’s First Automobile Works and Mazda – the FAW Bentung A501, due to be launched at this year’s Beijing Auto Show.
Look closely at the wheels and you’ll spot Mazda's familiar ‘M’ logo, meaning this disguised test car is sitting on a last-generation Mazda 6 chassis. And the wheels aren’t the only thing distinctly Mazda-esque about this car.
Penned by ItalDesign – the company responsible for the gorgeous Alfa Romeo 159 – the Bentung’s clearly visible rising swage line and bulging rear end both nod to the current Mazda 6, meaning the Chinese newcomer shouldn't be short on style. There’s no official word on a UK launch for the car, but sources suggest the car will reach Europe some time in 2009.
Powered by 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre petrol engines, the Bentung will offer a cut price alternative to mainstream European rivals like the Ford Focus and Renault Laguna. And we do mean cut price – the A501 is set to carry an asking price of a mere 100,000 CNY. That’s around £7,200!
Chinese cars still have a long way to go before they can compete with Europe’s best, but the Bentung looks like it might just be closing the gap.