Taiwanese carmaker 'borrows' stylings
As Chinese cars start to trickle on to the New Zealand market, there are signs that Taiwan could be offering some models here before too long, with the new Luxgen5 model being particularly impressive.
Offering safe, unassuming styling and some irrefutably impressive specifications, Taiwanese maker Luxgen is to start selling the new Luxgen5 mid-size sedan in China and Europe before the end of the year.
The Luxgen5 shape and proportions will be familiar to those keen of eye, as the car's shell was used for the company's Neora concept - an all-electric car which dropped more than a few jaws at the 2011 Shanghai Motor Show, not the least those belonging to mainland Chinese car company executives.
The Neora's silhouette has been largely retained but the nose treatment has been altered to suit the kind of airflow and cooling required from a conventional powertrain.
In its finished form, the Luxgen5 borrows styling details and trend from successful Korean and Japanese cars, which is understandable. But these design cues are not tacked on, as they have been on some early Chinese mainland cars like early Chery and Geely models. The Luxgen5 displays Accord and Sonata hints quite subtly and the whole effect seems almost original in its execution, certainly discreet and it has no quirks to indicate that it comes from an inexperienced and essentially emerging carmaker.
The name Luxgen may be a new one to most, but the company is a full-fledged automobile manufacturer and "a dedicated integrator of automotive and smart IT technology", says the company that spawned it: Taiwan's Yulon Group, which was founded in 1949.
Yulon group's business operation already included automobile research and development and manufacturing, textile manufacturing, IT and hi-tech manufacturing, as well as real estate development, financial services and investment and publishing. The group's automobile manufacturing operation began in 1953 and has grown steadily over the years to become Taiwan's largest automobile manufacturer, with production plants in Taiwan, Mainland China and Philippines, supplying the local markets with more than 2 million vehicles produced in association with companies such as Nissan, Mitsubishi, GM, Chrysler and Mercedes Benz.
The Luxgen5 is mostly the company's own work, though influences of other makers can be seen. The car's interior is simple and uncluttered, with a digital instrument cluster that features a heads-up display similar to the ones found on recent PSA group offerings. The infotainment system is controlled via a large centre-dash touchscreen that allows the driver to surf the internet, make phonecalls, send text messages, change the stereo settings, access vital information about the car and even check the weather report.
The Luxgen5 also offers a full suite of safety features such as ABS, electronic brake-force distribution and a brake assist system, as well as an electronic stability control system and traction control setup. The heads-up display links to the Luxgen Think+Touch infotainment system, developed in collaboration with smartphone maker HTC.
The new Taiwanese car is offered with a choice of two transverse, front-driven four-cylinder Garrett-turbocharged petrol engines. The entry-point car features a 1.8-litre unit that makes 113kW and 230Nm and drives through a five-speed automatic transmission. The flagship power unit is a 130kW 255Nm 2.0 litre unit, with a six-speed automatic transmission.
It's worth noting that many of the delays in mainland Chinese-sourced products for Australia and New Zealand are because of the absence of automatic transmissions, while the Luxgen5 offers such powertrains straight off the stick. Luxgen says the 2.0-litre car manages the 100kmh sprint in 8.5 seconds, going on to a top speed of 210kmh.
The Luxgen5 Sedan has debuted in Europe at the Moscow Motor Show at the weekend. Luxgen plans to gradually expand to countries within the European Union over the next year but the absence of a diesel engine option might be a restriction to take-up there. It is expected that right-hand-drive models will enter the mix in time, however.
Luxgen has not revealed pricing for any market save for its own, where the entry-point 1.8-litre car starts at 690,000 Taiwan dollars, or a very competitive NZ$28,500.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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