China has one of the oldest cultures in the world, one dating back over 5000 years ago. A country as vast and as populated as China surely should have no problem being at the forefront of shaping and influencing global style and taste. Somehow though, something seems to have been lost in translation. Sure in recent years China has had a larger role on the global stage but in terms of pop culture, fashion, and more importantly cars, the big red country hasn’t quite had the impact one would expect from the world’s largest economy.
To be fair China’s car industry is fairly young, it took the Europeans and Americans decades to be as influential as they are. The Japanese and Koreans took less time but it didn’t happen overnight. While Chinese cars aren’t known for their radical out there thinking they are known for something else; being carbon copies of well recognised Western cars. When someone says “Chinese cars” to you, chances are you’ve got some weird looking cars in mind. Chinese cars are much like Chinese DVDs or fashion labels, cheaper less attractive facsimiles of the originals. Sometimes this grinds my gears as companies spend millions in research and development of a new design or product only for it to be copied and sold for a significantly smaller price, which makes it seem like they’re taunting the Europeans and Americans.
Then again people do say imitation is the best form of flattery. Modern cars are becoming more and more homogenous as niches are becoming one, so in a way this could be what Chinese car designers are doing. They’re blending different aspects of European and American cars until they hit the right spot. Also, we shouldn’t stereotype all Chinese car buyers. Not all of them are wealthy enough to buy original Ferraris or BMWs. A vast majority of middle-class buyers want to have the image of a premium car but without the premium pricetag. Enter the cheaper Chinese copies.
It’s a bit like when people buy those fake Rolex watches or Louis Vuitton handbags. From the outside it looks like the real deal and it’d fool most people. But deep down you’d know you weren’t wearing the real thing and you’d always have a little bit of guilt and disappointment every time you looked at it. Then again it could also be a reminder to make you work harder to get to your goal of having a real one.
Whatever the reason for the number of Chinese copies, you have to admire their confidence. China clearly don’t care about copyright laws. Though, looking back at history the same could be said for early Japanese and Korean cars. Back then people used to accuse them of being carbon copies of the establishment too. Oh how times have changed. Everyone from the West and East are now adopting hybrid technology into their cars, something the Japanese invented. If it weren’t for Hyundai and Kia upping their game in terms of quality and value we’d still probably have mediocre choices.
Chinese cars are definitely on the rise but every now and then we are lucky enough to get a reminder of why they’re now the butt of automotive jokes, especially with cars such as the LandWind X7. Oh where do I begin with this. The name might be a good place to start, it sounds like a fart. That itself is worth a giggle and props to LandWind for coming up with an original name. Nothing at all like Britain’s Land Rover or the Japanese Land Cruiser. Then there’s the X7 bit, which could prove to be tricky for BMW as they’re currently working on a larger SUV to sit above the X5 in its range.
No, the thing that’s made the LandWind X7 so notorious around the web these days are rather obvious. Yes it looks identical to a Range Rover Evoque. Unveiled at the Guangzhou Motor Show, the X7 attracted some attention, particularly from Land Rover’s CEO. It caught his attention so much he’s even considering taking legal action. They haven’t even tried to be subtle about it, this is an unashamedly clear copy of the Evoque. Fair enough, if you’re going to copy any car you might as well copy one of the best and most well recognised. It doesn’t stop there as the interior looks pretty much the same too. There’s a steering wheel, a touchscreen display, and a dashboard to cover up metal bits. Even the seats, which are human sized, look similar to the Evoque’s.
The LandWind is expected to cost around three times less than the ‘real’ Evoque. You do get what you pay for though. While both have a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, the Evoque has a whopping 248bhp while the X7 has to make do with 188bhp. The Evoque will almost be surely better made and safer too. Chinese cars may be able to copy the designs but they’re yet able to copy the engineering. I know which one I’d prefer to have a crash in.
One day, and I’m fairly sure of this, Chinese cars will be the benchmark. It may happen in five years or ten years, but the time will come when Chinese cars will surpass the Europeans, Americans, and other Asian manufacturers. We are already witnessing the start of this with many foreign manufacturers setting up factories in China and partnering up with local Chinese brands to manufacture their cars domestically to reduce costs. There’s also an outward flow of original Chinese cars being exported around the world, and some of them have original designs too. Qoros for example, a brand under the vast Geely empire, is set to make a splash in European markets next year. In the meantime though we can still poke fun at their comedic attempts at car design.