Concept Cars Make Big Splash at Shanghai Motor Show

By Kelsey Mays  on April 21, 2013

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On April 20, the 2013 Shanghai motor show kicked off. As The Detroit Free Press puts it, the event served up a high-decibel dosage of fashion, sports and music (oh, and cars) to some 10,000 journalists. More than 100 automakers vied for attention in the world's largest car market, where 94% of consumers don't own a vehicle — and young people dominate the ranks of those who do.

Automakers introduced plenty of concept cars, including Ford's Escort reboot and two small SUV concepts: Mercedes-Benz's GLA-Class (pictured above) and BMW's X4. Check out some others that caught our eye:

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Acura Concept SUV-X

The SUV-X will become a smallish production crossover in China in about three years, according to Honda, Acura’s parent company. It also marks Acura's first concept debut outside North America. The chiseled SUV-X wears more interesting lines than Acura's normal vehicles; if the taillight chevrons make it to other Honda/Acura products, they could signal a compelling evolution to those on Honda's CR-V.

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Honda Concept M

Honda's latest MPV — Multi-Purpose Vehicle, which we Yankees call a minivan — will become a production vehicle in China next year, the automaker says. Designed in Japan, the Concept M imposes a hodgepodge (a Hondapodge?) of grilles, meshwork, frames and lights up front. It's messier than a Best Buy two days after Thanksgiving. Mercifully, the side and rear are a little easier on the eyes.

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Mitsubishi Concept G4

Mitsubishi says the Concept G4 previews a new small sedan that will roll out globally; Autoblog calls it a thinly veiled Mirage sedan, which the drivetrain specs — a 1.2-liter engine and continuously variable automatic transmission — suggest. The Mirage is basic, and Mitsubishi says the G4 boasts a "brilliant-cut diamond motif" in the lights and grille. By "diamond," it appears that Mitsubishi meant "blue."

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Volkswagen CrossBlue Coupe Concept

Whereas the CrossBlue concept unveiled at the 2013 Detroit auto show has three rows of seats and a diesel plug-in hybrid drivetrain, Volkswagen's CrossBlue coupe concept is about 4 inches shorter and lacks the third row. It has a plug-in, turbo V-6 that works with two electric motors to crank out 415 horsepower and hit 60 mph in well under 6 seconds. It holds enough charge for a purported EV range of 21 miles. Time will tell how much of this technology makes it to production.

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Nissan Friend-ME Concept

Aimed at China's young consumers, the Friend-ME targets China's "balinghou" generation — a group of some 240 million Chinese born in the 1980s during China's one-child policy, Nissan says. The Friend-ME concept is an urban runabout with seating for four.

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Mercedes-Benz GLA Concept at the 2013 Shanghai Motor Show
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Senior Consumer Affairs Editor Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price.  Email Kelsey


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