The East Is Rich

Let’s say that you’re introducing a new car.

Let’s say that you’re introducing a new car. Something luxurious. Something large. Something bordering on the ostentatious. Where would you roll it out? Paris? Berlin? New York?

How about Beijing?

Beijing? The Auto China 2010 show in Beijing is host to plenty of new luxurious vehicles.

Item: Volkswagen unveiled the 2011 Phaeton for the first time. This flagship is being offered with two wheelbases—199 in. and 204 in.—, two back seat versions (three seats or two individual seats), and four engines, from 236 hp to 444 hp, gas and diesel, six, eight and twelve cylinders.

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Item: Mercedes-Benz revealed the Shooting Break concept car, which derives its form from the CLS four-door coupe. The difference here, of course, is that it is not a sedan but a wagon, or shooting break. Yes, this stylish car is a concept, but according to Mercedes, just as the CLS has become “a design icon which is likely to occupy a very special place in the history of the motor car,” “The Shooting Break concept car may well be looked back on at some point as having played a similar role”—by which we could assume that this, too, will, at some point become a production vehicle.

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Item: Although Cadillac revealed the XTS Platinum concept in Detroit at NAIAS in January, it shipped the property to Beijing. This vehicle has a 3.6-liter direct-injection gasoline engine paired with a plug-in hybrid system. The interior features hand cut-and-sewn materials. Organic light-emitting diodes are used in place of traditional gauges. As Clay Dean, who was Cadillac design director when the car was introduced, put it, “Just as the technology pushes the boundaries of what a Cadillac can offer, so do the details that make the XTS Platinum concept an uncompromising experience.”

Meanwhile, over in Shanghai, at the Shanghai World Fair’s French Pavilion, Citroën will be featuring the Metropolis limousine concept that was actually designed by the Citroën studio in Shanghai, which was established in 2008. Like the Cadillac, this is a hybrid. Taking the V6 engine and the electric motor in combination, it produces 460 hp. Like the Phaeton, it is a big car, 209-in. long.

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Seems like egalitarianism isn’t what it used to be.