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Shanghai Motor Show 2019 preview: BMW X3M, Mercedes GLB and more

The Week logo The Week 09/04/2019 Cameron Tait
a group of people on a stage in front of a crowd © Provided by Dennis Publishing Limited

The Shanghai Motor Show is just a week from opening its doors. The first major motoring event of the year in China, the show kicks off on 16 April and finishes ten days later on the 26th.

Scores of new models were unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show last month, many of them by major carmakers, but several production cars and concept vehicles will nonetheless make their debut at the Chinese event.

The event takes place just a few days before the New York International Auto Show, which runs from 19 to 29 April. The US event tends to focus on carmakers from North America, but the Chinese show features many European firms.

Here are the best cars set to appear when the Shanghai Motor Show gets underway next week: 

Audi AI:me

Previewed in a handful of sketches ahead of the motor show, the Audi AI:me is a futuristic concept car that could rival the BMW i3 – if it reaches the production line. 

Little is know about the concept car, but the “AI” part of the vehicle’s name suggests it will showcase some of the German carmaker’s latest artificial intelligence capabilities, says Car magazine. 

“Expect to learn how the car maker’s all-seeing, all-comprehending sensors and algorithms will make sense of the world around them to pilot this petite four-seater around our increasingly crowded cities”, the magazine says. 

BMW X3M and X4M Coupe

BMW will be taking the covers off its new X3M and X4M Coupe SUVs in Shanghai next week. Both vehicles are designed to rival Alfa Romeo’s performance-focused Stelvio Quadrifoglio crossover. 

What sets the X3M and X4M Coupe apart is their body style. The X3M takes the form of a conventional SUV with a tall roofline to accommodate a large boot. The X4M Coupe, meanwhile, has a roofline that slopes downwards towards the rear, compromising practicality in favour of a sleeker overall look. 

Otherwise, the two cars are mechanically identical, says Auto Express. Both are based on the standard X3 and X4 crossovers, and are powered by 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engines. The X3M will produce around 476bhp, while the X4M ups the figure to 506bhp. 

Mercedes-Benz GLB concept

Mercedes-Benz plans to unveil its smallest SUV yet at next week’s show. The GLB concept will preview a new production crossover that’s expected to go up against the Audi Q2 and BMW X2 in the compact SUV market.

Only one design sketch of the concept’s interior has been revealed in the run-up to the event. The image suggests the car’s cabin will feature the same “long” infotainment screen and digital instrument panel as the current A-Class hatchback, says Top Gear.

Karma-Pininfarina concept

Karma, an electric car firm born out of the collapse of Fisker Automotive in 2014, will be taking the covers off its first concept car at the Chinese show. 

The unnamed concept has been developed in partnership with the Italian design house Pininfarina, the company behind iconic cars such as the Ferrari Testarossa and the Lanica 037. The concept will take the form of a luxury sports car, Autocar reports. 

A preview image [pictured above] gives fans a glimpse of the concept car’s “angular” styling and “streamlined” front end, but for now the Chinese-backed firm is remaining “tight-lipped” about the car’s specs, says the magazine.

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