You may not know of China’s Hongqi but the prestige brand puts on a big show at home.
A sports car, a driverless luxury sedan and an ungainly electric vehicle (EV) were all shown on the Hongqi stand at the Shanghai motor show, signalling a significant expansion for the brand.
China’s domestic market Hongqi brand, which translates as ‘red flag’, has traditionally concentrated on its grand flagship sedans, namely retro-styled large cars built around space and comfort for occupants.
As a brand under the First Automobile Works (FAW) group of companies, Hongqi has also built a variety of other models over the years based on cars like the Toyota Crown, Audi 100 and Mazda 6.
For the 2021 Shanghai motor show Hongqi showed an interesting change of direction for the largely conservative brand.
Hongqi S9 hypercar
Headlining the stand is the Hongqi S9 hypercar, shown in production form after debuting as a concept two years earlier and receiving a complete styling overhaul since then.
Designed by Walter de Silva, the former Volkswagen Group design chief responsible for cars like the original Audi R8, Alfa Romeo 156, and Lamborghini Egoista, the S9 holds onto none of Hongqi’s design history. Instead, the sleek two-door conveys a much more contemporary design aesthetic.
Hongqi has been cagey on full details, but did reveal that the S9 will feature a plug-in hybrid system paired with V8 combustion engine, said to be good for just over 1000kW combined.
The 0-100km/h sprint is claimed to take 1.9 seconds, top speed is rated at 402km/h and electric-only driving range is estimated at 40km.
The S9 will go into production in 2022, at a plant in Modena, Italy. Just 99 examples will be available. Orders are now open, though while Hongqi has spoken of its aspirations to go global, it’s not known if the S9 will venture far beyond China.
While not strictly a Shanghai reveal, having been shown in January 2021 as part of the Haikou International New Energy Vehicle and Connected Mobility Show, the E-QM5 still rates a mention, largely on the basis of its highly-divisive front end.
Although compact-looking in pictures, the E-QM5 measures an impressive 5040mm nose to tail, making it just a touch shorter than something like a Mazda CX-9.
Under the surface there’s a fairly sedate-sounding 100kW electric motor powered by a 55kWh battery. Claimed range is 430 kilometres on the NEDC test cycle.
Inside, the E-QM5 prioritises rear seat comfort, with a raised centre console between the seats, a flat floor and plenty of legroom so that passengers can recline into the individually-adjustable rear seats with ottomans.
As for the controversial styling, you may not pick the origins, but the design of the E-QM5 was overseen by former Rolls-Royce designer Giles Taylor, who has been FAW’s head of design since 2018.
Whereas the Hongqi L5 currently sits as the brand’s retro-styled flagship, the L-Concept provides a glimpse at what a next-generation model might include.
With a hypnotic cobweb lighting signature up front, a headlight design that could be from a modern SsangYong Chairman, and an imposing chrome grille, plus latticed detailing over the rear window and across the bladed tail lights, the L-Concept isn’t afraid to experiment with design themes.
The interior is the real focus of this next-gen limo, with a three-seat layout configured for ultimate occupant comfort.
Relying on autonomous tech means there’s no steering wheel, though there is a driver’s seat up front. The front passenger seat is absent though, to allow the right rear passenger to recline in full-length comfort.
If that wasn’t opulent enough, the L-Concept also includes a rarely seen automotive feature: a chandelier positioned between the rear seat occupants. There’s also more traditional full-leather trim and dual LCD displays up front.
Hongqi brings three very different concepts to the Shanghai motor show