Qoros: A new auto brand is born
Every major auto show has its share of car debuts. Rarer is the debut of an entirely new automotive brand. In Detroit, we saw a first look at Bob Lutz's VL Automotive. The upcoming Geneva Motor Show will also host at least one brand debut as Chinese manufacturer Qoros shows its first vehicle and two concepts.
Founded in 2007 in a partnership with Chery Automobile and industrial holding company Israel Corporation, Qoros aims to be an international auto brand with a focus on young, urbane consumers.
Qoros will give the world a first look at what we can expect with the compact, C-segment 3 Sedan. Boasting a "powerful appearance" and "coupé-like silhouette," Qoros says that European influence is a driving force in its greater design ethic, but the car looks pretty nondescript to us. It will blend in quietly with the Corollas and Fiats on the roads. Measurements are 4,615 mm long, 1,839 mm wide and 1,445 mm high (182 x 72 x 57 inches) with a 2,690 mm (106 inch) wheelbase.
Qoros has two four-cylinder engine options planned for the 3: a 126-bhp 1.6-liter engine and a 156-bhp turbocharged version of that same engine. The engines feature variable valve timing and will be paired with a six-speed manual transmission as standard. A six-speed dual clutch transmission will be an option. McPherson struts at the front and twist-beam suspension at the rear will provide what Qoros classifies as a balance of responsive handling and compliant ride. Rack-and-pinion steering with electronic power assistance and disc brakes (320mm front, 285 mm rear) will round out the primary mechanicals. The 3 will include ABS and electronic stability control.
Technology will be key to reaching its young, metropolitan consumer base, and Qoros plans on making it a pillar of the 3 Sedan and other models. An 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system will come standard with the sedan and will include "an advanced navigation system, extensive social networking connectivity and the ability for drivers to monitor their car’s health." The capacitive touchscreen will support multi-touch gestures like swiping, and Qoros strips the usual hard buttons and dials out, relying heavily on the touchscreen for control. Beyond the dashboard, Qoros says the interior will offer class-leading space.
The 3 Sedan will go on sale in China in the second half of this year, with European sales to begin before year-end. Production will take place at Qoros' Changshu, China plant. Standard equipment will include the aforementioned infotainment system, air conditioning, remote locks and a four-speaker 100-watt audio system. The car will be offered in three trim levels and six colors.
Beyond the 3, Qoros has an ambitious plan of rolling out a new model every six to eight months. It will rely on a modular vehicle architecture in designing new additions at a swift, steady pace. The vehicles will also share much styling influence, including the front-end, which the company hopes will build strong brand identity.
In addition to premiering the 3 Sedan, Qoros will show two of these potential future models in Geneva. The first is the 3 Cross Hybrid Concept, an all-wheel-drive crossover concept with a front-mounted 130-hp 1.2-liter three-cylinder turbo engine, rear-mounted 50 kW electric motor, and an Integrated Starter Generator (ISG) motor between the transmission and engine. The rear motor is powered by a 1.9 kWh lithium-ion battery, and the second motor serves to start the engine and power the battery to keep the rear motor spinning for continuous all-wheel-drive. The ISG can also deliver extra power to the front axle when conditions demand.
As Qoros promises, the concept shares the dual-section, trapezoidal radiator "brand face" with the sedan, with a few subtle accents distinguishing it. It sits on the same wheelbase and track as the four-door, as well.
The third vehicle that Qoros will show in Geneva is the 3 Estate concept, a wagon version of the 3 Sedan.