Houston Community News >> 15,000 Dollar Chinese Sports Car

10/1/2007 (MSN)-- The Geneva debut for Brilliance JinBei Automobile was, to be honest, a bit low key for what’s billed as the first Chinese automobile brand to 'conquer' Europe.

In the Tuesday morning schedules, sandwiched between SEAT and Meserati’s time-slots, it was on, then it was off, then it was on again. And as a boss whose name we didn’t catch made his presentation apparently from behind the information desk, you couldn’t help noticing that it was what you might call a fairly modest stand, low on glitz and spangly bits, and snuggled between names like EDAG, Techart, Wiesemann and Zagato in the ‘specialist’ ghetto of Hall 2.

So in terms of staging, it didn’t have much to do with the brand name, but do not for a moment think that Brilliance is anywhere near the make-weight end of the Geneva spectrum – just think ahead a little way. They showed us the BS6, which is the already-seen high-end sedan that they will offer in three versions through new European importer HSO Motors Europe; and they expect that the neat if hardly exciting car to get them onto the ladder to the tune of 15,000 sales in Europe by the end of 2007, with plans for 75,000 a year by 2010.

But they also showed us two more European debuts, in the slightly smaller BS4 saloon, and the BC3 coupé, and they mentioned a couple of names who had helped get them here—like Giugiaro, who styled the BS4 (as well as the BS6), Pininfarina, who did the same for the BC3, and Porsche, no less, who helped with the dynamics. They also have partnerships with Toyota and Mitsubishi, and were advised by production specialists from BMW.

So for what it’s worth, we can tell you that both the new cars are actually quite attractive, well specified and on first impressions well-built, too. And using the first engine Brilliance has created entirely in house, a 1.8-litre four-cylinder turbo with either 136 or 170 horsepower, plus a choice of five-speed manual or automatic transmissions and all the comfort and safety equipment you could ask for, they don’t break any new ground, but they’ll be perfectly at home in Europe on content, and presumably scarily attractive on price.

And here is the real point of the Brilliance story: low-key debut or not, they are on the march, and we will not be able to resist for long. Give the Chinese auto industry five years and it will not be rubbing shoulders with the likes of Techart and Wiesemann. Next layer out from Brilliance in Hall 2 Geneva were VW on one side and GM on the other. Somehow, you know they’ll both be watching Brilliance (and China’s) next moves.

Contributed by Brian Laban (MSN)