Beijing 2016: Hongqi's B and S concepts show Chinese luxury evolving

26 April 2016 | by Tom Phillips

FAW's Hongqi 'Red Flag' brand is perhaps best known for its stately if retro L5 luxury sedan. However, its two new concepts offer an interesting take on the future of Chinese luxury, as created by Chinese design teams.

The sedan concept previews a smaller car, seemingly similar in size and execution to the new Lincoln Continental.

Its exterior is simply surfaced, and features illuminated Chinese characters that pop from the trunk lid, while the roof features fibre optic lights that shine on the outside, performing an inverted Rolls-Royce trick, where the bling of the Hongqi is located on the outside rather than in the cabin.

That's because the latter's interior is extremely restrained, with a simple IP formed from a curved screen, with additional screens in the steering-wheel-boss and on the centre console, and careful application of light-coloured materials. The Chinese tea set in the rear of the cabin and crystal cut-glass gear selector up front are neat details, too.

The crossover is similarly restrained. Based on an Audi Q5, the surfacing is relatively simple, albeit with a strong undercut running below the doors to add drama, and a large grille and jewelled lamps to attract attention.

The four-seat interior channels current Mercedes and Volvo design, with a folding front seat and integrated pop-up screen to keep rear-seat passengers suitably comfortable and entertained.

As with the sedan, traditional light-coloured leathers and wood contrast with the huge gauge pack that stretches two thirds of the way across the IP, with an extra screen for HVAC and media on the centre console.

The concepts show that traditional materials remain important signifiers, but touchscreens and technology for the driving environment simply aren't optional for China's new generation of luxury cars. Rear-seat passengers remain important too, albeit with a focus on the sedate, either by allowing a stretch of the legs or a tasty tea break.

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