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Qoros Auto: Who are they and what do they want from us?

2013 will see the arrival of new vehicles from a fledgling car manufacturer known as Qoros Auto. The company’s first vehicle, the GQ3, will be a c-segment saloon that will go head to head with the likes of the Skoda Octavia, but can we take the firm seriously? We took a closer look at the company and the people behind it to try to discover whether they’re serious contenders or whether they’re already destined for the scrapheap.

Qoros is a new car manufacturer from China. Should we be singing its praises?
Qoros is a new car manufacturer from China. Should we be singing its praises?

So, what is Qoros?

It’s a Chinese car manufacturer based in Shanghai. The word Qoros is completely made up, but the ‘Q’ is said to stand for quality, and the overall sound is similar to ‘chorus’, which was chosen because it implies all the teams working throughout the organisation work together. Handy, that.

Who’s behind it?

Qoros is a joint venture between the state-owned Chery Automobile motor company and Israel Corporation, an investment company headquartered in Tel Aviv. Chery is a big player in the automotive world, selling around 600,000 cars every year. It’s perhaps best known for its ultra-cheap Chery QQ3, a tiny city car that bears a startling resemblance to the Daewoo Matiz. It’s so similar, in fact, that Daewoo’s parent company, GM, filed a lawsuit against Chery. 

Israel Corporation, meanwhile, is Israel’s largest holding company. Its investments are usually centred around chemicals, energy and shipping, though it also has has a 28.6 per cent stake in Better Place, a company intent on rolling out next-generation electric vehicle recharging infrastructure.

The GQ3 is Qoros' first effort.
The GQ3 is Qoros’ first effort.

Who will design the cars?

Qoros appears to have carefully selected a strong design and engineering team to create its vehicles. Head of design is Gert Hilderbrand, who was former chief designer at Mini and BMW. Hilderbrand was in charge of overseeing the entire development and evolution of the Mini brand since the “new” mini was introduced in 2000. He’s the man to thank for the cabriolet, Clubman and Countryman versions. Prior to that, he was also chief designer at Mitsubishi Design Europe, head designer at Seat Centro Technico and worked for Volkswagen, where he worked on the exterior design for the Golf Mk3.

Hilderbrand will be joined by a strong team of executives including Klaus Schmidt, the former chief engineer of vehicle performance and chassis at BMW, former chief engineer at Jaguar Land Rover Peter Matkin,  and Roger Malkusson, a former chief engineer at Saab.

Gert Hildebrand, ex Mini and BMW, is in charge of design at Qoros.
Gert Hildebrand, ex Mini and BMW, is in charge of design at Qoros.

They’re being built in china, right?

Yes indeed, at a new factory that’s currently under construction. We’re told Qoros will initially have the ability to build 150,000 cars, but if popularity takes off, this can be ramped up to somewhere in the region of 450,000.

What kinds of cars are they making?

The first vehicle we’ve seen from Qoros is a c-segment compact saloon known as the GQ3. It’s in the same size bracket as the Volkswagen Golf, Vauxhall Astra and Ford Focus, but will most likely be aimed at buyers of the Skoda Octavia. We’ve no idea whether the Qoros GQ3 is any good, but the company’s marketing people sing its praises. They say it has an elegant exterior, a refined interior and an advanced infotainment system. The latter can control most of the vehicle’s functions through an 8-inch touchscreen display, using ‘swipe’ gestures that will be familiar to tablet users.

The GQ3 is a c-segment car that will go head to head with the likes of the Skoda Octavia.

Seems they’re taking technology seriously

Qoros claims advanced in-car technology will help set the brand apart. The GQ3 will take advantage of ‘cloud’ connectivity and in-car networking technologies, which we presume means you’ll be able to link other devices, such as your home PC. It’ll also allow you to access social networks to help you share your driving experience with friends via text and photos.

In-car technology is high on Qoros' list of priorities.

That sounds very distracting

It sounds awesome. What’s more awesome is that this kit will come as standard across the GQ3 range.

OK. But this is a Chinese marque. It’ll fall apart, right?

The proof is in the pudding, but Qoros is making all the right noises. The company says the GQ3 will be built to achieve maximum Euro NCAP safety ratings and will also come with front, side and curtain airbags, so it should be safe. As for reliability, we’ll have to wait and see. 

Sounds tempting. Tell me it’ll be cheap

Qoros hasn’t confirmed its pricing structure, but the GQ3 should undercut its German rivals by a tempting margin. If not, we’re expecting it’ll cost the same, but offer a better array of standard equipment.

When can I buy one? 

Expect the GQ3 to be available in the latter part of 2013 with subsequent models being introduced every six months.

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