You may not have heard of Qoros yet, but this new Chinese car manufacturer could soon be one of Europe’s biggest players.
Stefano Villanti, Executive Director of Sales, Service, Marketing and Product Strategy, revealed that Qoros is gearing up to produce 150,000 cars within two years, with a factory capable of expanding production to 450,000 units if needs be.
The first to come from the facility will be the new 3 saloon, scheduled for European release in 2014, which has just made its public debut at the Geneva Motor Show.
Not only is Hildebrand proud of his creation but he also realises its importance. “The 3 is going to be the longest living car in the company, and the one that all others will be judged from. We’re not here to impress, we’re here to last”.
Inside the 3 saloon feels like it has been designed with European buyers in mind and while some of the plastics on major touch points feel a little cheap the large central touchscreen and VW-inspired switchgear both really impress. Room in the back is decent too thanks to the long wheelbase - and the Qoros stand was generating significant interest from potential rival manufacturers at the show, including Honda and Kia.
Underneath sits an all-new modular architecture, allowing for the platform to be lengthened, shortened or raised as needed. Euro NCAP has been a previous problem for many Chinese makers, but Villanti assured Auto Express that the 3 will “pass the tests with no problem, in fact with many it will positively shine”.
Despite its European intentions, over 50 per cent of Qoros models will be sold in China, so there’s no diesel model currently in the pipeline. A four-strong petrol line up ranging from a 1.2-litre three cylinder, to a turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder will be supplemented by a new hybrid instead.
The latter will use an electric rear axle, originally developed by American Axle and Saab Automobile in Sweden, in conjunction with the three-cylinder petrol engine. It will produce over 220bhp and 450Nm of torque, while keeping emissions under 120g/km.
Qoros has also debuted its Cross Hybrid Concept at Geneva. For this, the drivetrain is combined with a 60mm raised ride height and a soft-roader style hatchback body. Complete with a Coupe like roofline, chunky plastic wheelarches and a redesigned front and rear it’s the most exciting to look at of the trio.
Less exciting but equally important is the Estate Concept, which offers 500-litres of luggage space with the seats in place and 1,400-litres folded.
Promising though the Qoros brand may be, it hasn’t yet confirmed if right-hand drive vehicles will be available. If this turns out to be the case, it would immediately sink the firm’s ambitions in the UK, and much of Asia and Australia, before it’s even begun.