VALBONNE, France– Five years in the making, the new Qoros brand, co-financed and managed by China’sand the Israel Corp.investment group, is set to make its debut at the Geneva auto show early next month.
The gestation has been long, but the delivery will be generous, with three new models unveiled at the show simultaneously. Production will begin at Qoros’ Changshu, China, plant later this year.
First to hit showrooms will be the Qoros 3 sedan, planned for sale in second-half 2013 in China and by year’s end in Europe.
It will be the first all-new car developed to modern European standards by a Chinese auto maker.
Next year, the range will see the addition of the “classic” station-wagon derivative. Third on the timeline is the Eco-SUV 3 Cross Hybrid. They should come at 6- to 8-month intervals.
The objective of the new Israeli-Chinese JV is to create a new generation of “premium” cars with a European flavor.
The biggest challenge appears to be in naming the new models. Even before the launch, Qoros found itself in litigation with Audi about the original GQ3 model name, now changed to simply Qoros 3. Even this could face opposition, ashas consolidated priority on the patented 3-Series trademark.
But the names and designs make it clear what competitors Qoros is targeting.
The Qoros 3 sedan matches the overall length of the 3-Series, but sits on a significantly shorter wheelbase and is slightly wider and taller.
A more substantial difference can be found in its powertrain architecture. The Qoros 3 sedan is front drive, not rear drive like the 3-Series, positioning the Chinese car closer to Hyundais and in some cases Audis.
Only the Qoros 3 Cross Hybrid will offer all-wheel drive, with the additional 50-kW (67-hp) electric motor driving the rear wheels and the 130-hp, turbocharged 1.2L 3-cyl. direct-injection gasoline engine powering the front axle.
At launch time, Qoros will offer a new 1.6L 4-cyl. engine, developed with Austrian engineering specialist AVL. It comes in both naturally aspirated and turbocharged versions, rated at 125 hp and 114 ft.-lbs. (155 Nm) of torque and 154 hp and 155 ft.-lbs. (210 Nm), respectively.
It is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission, with an automatic gearbox optional.
A new 182-hp, turbocharged 1.6L with DI and variable valve timing also is in the pipeline and targeted to meet Euro 6 emissions standards.