Auto 2014
Auto 2014

Feature: Best of 2009 Shanghai Auto Show

Detroit may be in the doldrums, but Shanghai is swinging: the Chinese motor industry is growing rapidly, investing in design expertise and preparing to have a significant global impact in coming years.

And besides the domestic manufacturers, who are producing ever-more interesting concepts, the established European and Western car-makers are finding that they can't afford to ignore China, where new-car sales are rising exponentially. Here's the low-down on the most important cars of this year's Shanghai Auto Show.

Bertone Mantide

Based on the 620bhp Corvette ZR1, the insectile Mantide (Italian for 'praying mantis') is a one-off, road-legal creation from the Stile Bertone studio for a private client.

Designer Jason Castriota - the man behind the one-off Pininfarina P4/5 - says it's inspired by jet-fighter aircraft, and its fuselage-type body, butterfly-opening doors and canopy certainly make it look ready to fly away.

Though the underpinnings are Corvette, the extra-aerodynamic Mantide is some 100kg lighter, thanks to its carbon fibre bodyshell and interior - which help it to 217mph and 0-60mph in less than 3.5 seconds. Downforce is 30% better than that of the Corvette, thankfully.

Buick Business Concept

Chinese buyers love GM's Buick brand - they see it as the epitome of American luxury - and the Business Concept MPV is suitably kitted out with armchair-type seats, plush burgundy and cream suede upholstery and carpets, and high-tech LED displays.

The work of the GM-SAIC Pan-Asia joint research and development facility, it incorporates traditional Chinese patterns in its trim, and evokes Chinese crystal sculptures in its headlight design. It shares its hardware with the Chevrolet Orlando and thus also the upcoming new Vauxhall Zafira, and also previews a next-generation GM hybrid powertrain.