The Beijing motor show, or the 2016 Beijing International Automobile Exhibition to give it its full title, may seem a world away from the British motoring market and caravanners preparing for the bank holiday break. But China is the largest automotive market in the world, making it a show of international significance. Many European and Asian marques choose it as the place to launch their freshest metal – and there are some potential tow car stars among them.
The new Renault Koleos broke cover in Beijing and is expected in the UK early next year. Depending on the market, the French brand’s new flagship SUV will be powered by a choice of two diesel and two petrol engines, rated at between 128 and 173bhp, paired to either a six-speed manual or the X-Tronic automatic transmission.
Big brother to the Captur and the Kadjar crossovers, the Koleos will have a switchable four-wheel-drive system to let users change between front-wheel and all-wheel drive, or the transmission can be locked in four-wheel drive. It will also be packed with driver aids, including Lane Departure Warning, Tiredness Detection, an Active Emergency Braking System and Easy Park Assist.
With a 2710mm wheelbase, this new 4670mm-long SUV will be one of the longest cars in its class, which should bode well when it comes to space for passengers and cargo on your caravan holidays. Indeed, Renault claims class-leading rear-seat space, with knee room of 289mm, while the boot has a flat floor and a decent capacity of 624 litres.
The old Koleos wasn’t particularly well received by UK buyers, and the new one faces a tough challenge, entering the fray against talented rivals such as the Nissan X-Trail – with which the new Koleos shares some components – and the X-Trail’s starting price just shy of £22,000 is probably a good guide as to what the Koleos will cost.
Volkswagen T-Prime Concept GTE
It’s no secret that we’re big fans of much of Volkswagen’s recent output, the reigning Tow Car Awards winner the Passat and the recently-replaced Tiguan both impressing when a caravan is hitched to the back.
The not-too-snappily-named T-Prime Concept GTE was shown in Beijing, previewing the next-generation Touareg. Its strikingly handsome visage borrows much from the Passat, which is no bad thing, while inside there’s a curved, futuristic dashboard, switches replaced by voice and gesture control, plus touch-sensitive surfaces and touchscreens. This luxurious concept also showcases a plug-in petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain. The current Touareg is beloved by many caravanners, and it will be interesting to see how the new model fares.
While the concept seats four, the third-generation Touareg is likely to be a seven-seater to give it a fighting chance against the new Volvo XC90 and the hotly anticipated replacement for the caravanners’ favourite, the Land Rover Discovery. Indeed, measuring 5069mm long, 2000mm wide and 1708mm tall, the T-Prime Concept GTE is longer and wider than the second-gen Touareg, meaning there should be plenty of space.
Unsurprisingly, the new Mazda CX-4, also unveiled this week in China, is the Japanese brand’s new mid-range SUV, and will sit above the current CX-3 and below the CX-5 when it goes on sale next year. But what does come as some surprise is that it’s not coming to the UK; it is a China-only model.
The five-seater will be available with either a 2.0-litre or a 2.5-litre engine, both of which are petrol-fuelled, matched to either a six-speed manual or an automatic gearbox. Four-wheel drive will be optional with the bigger powerplant.
We were very impressed with the Mazda CX-5 at last year's Tow Car Awards. In fact, it scored five out of five for its towing ability and scooped the top gong in the 1550-1699kg weight category. Given the continued and increasing popularity of SUVs and crossovers, it’s not hard to believe that the new CX-4 might find buyers in markets outside China, so watch this space...
Infiniti QX Sport Inspiration
Finally it’s another concept, as Infiniti tests the water by presenting its take on a premium mid-sized SUV with the QX Sport Inspiration, which made its debut in Beijing. Details are thin on the ground and the ideas showcased in this concept will likely be developed for models across Infiniti’s QX range.
A four-seater, with the option of a fifth seat (where you’d expect, in the middle of the rear bench), the concept has a 2800mm wheelbase, making it about the same size as the Porsche Macan. There’s an eye-catching, full-length, tinted glass roof, the colour gradation of which aims to shade passengers but still permit light to flood the cabin. So-called ‘floating’ front and rear seats have been designed to increase floor space, while rear-seat passengers can adjust the temperature in their part of the car using a touchscreen panel.