AW Test Drive - Chinese Assembled 2004 BMW 530i

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Apr 16, 2004.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Shanghai Surprise: We test drive a Chinese-built BMW 5 Series

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    By JEREMY HART
    (07:30 April 16, 2004)
    (All Photos © 2004 Darren Heath)

    THE SENSATION IS A BIT LIKE WEARING a gold Rolex, a Prada suit and carrying Louis Vuitton luggage while riding a New York subway late at night. Sore thumbs and sticking out come to mind.

    Shanghai—China’s economic powerhouse—is all glitz, except when it comes to cars. The streets are crammed with a raft of dirty and dull VW Santana taxis, snaking streams of Flying Pigeon bicycles and scurrying street sellers hauling pushcarts laden with produce.

    Throw in a shiny new champagne silver BMW 530i, fill it with a pair of Westerners and the word conspicuous takes on a whole new meaning. As we pass, bikes run into each other, taxi drivers miss turns and heads turn like the crowd following the ball on center court. To get the same reaction in London or New York, you’d need to stick Halle Berry in a topless Ferrari.

    The Brits built the first railway in China in 1874, but for modern transport China prefers to mix Maoism with vorsprung durch technik. Shanghai’s 260-mph train is German-made. The taxis are VWs made in Beijing and the latest car manufacturer to set up plants in China is BMW.

    The first BMW produced in China by a joint venture between BMW and China’s Brilliance Automotive Co. Ltd. was revealed to Chinese consumers on Oct. 16, 2003. It was a black BMW 325i. Since then more than 1000 3 Series have been sold.

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    Now the 5 Series is on tap, and ours is one of the first to roll off the production line. This is the most luxurious car ever made in China
    , and as far as the masses are concerned, this is probably just another hugely expensive import. Instead, somewhere on the chassis is stamped “Made in China.”

    To be honest, from the inside it could just as well have been made in Bavaria as Beijing. There are no horrors—no massive panel gaps, no rattling dashboard, no carpets coming unstuck at the edges.

    Four months ago we drove an identical European-made 530i at the launch in Germany. If it wasn’t for the incessant honking and the aroma of roadside stalls selling dumplings, not to mention the Flying Pigeons, the driving experiences would have been identical. Even iDrive worked flawlessly—in Mandarin.

    Behind the wheel—which technically we shouldn’t have experienced without first passing the local driving test—the Chinese 5 is tight. Chinese roads are pockmarked and littered with craters.
    It is not a place for a fragile automobile. We took the car on tracks used only by tractors, down the cobbled back streets of Shanghai so rough they unseat motorcyclists. The 530i took the punches like Lennox Lewis.

    Locally made BMWs are not cheap: The 325i lists for 473,850 yuan, or about $57,250. But even at that rate, BMW has been riding the wave of a booming Chinese car market where industry sales rose by 67.8 percent to 1.51 million units in the first 10 months of 2003. By 2010, China’s demand for cars will be 10 million.

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    Little wonder companies like BMW are beaming. A car, like a laptop computer and a house, has long been regarded as a coveted emblem of Chinese middle-class life. Credit is a new phenomenon, but one that is making car ownership affordable for the Chinese.


    Whatever the wheels, the allure is freedom. “A car means more lifestyle choices for the Chinese,” says Wang Zong, a company manager who just bought a new VW. “You can still ride a bike, but surely a car will wheel you to a more exciting life.”

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  2. Toodles

    Toodles You are the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the w OT Supporter

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    fucking :cool:

    damn proud to be chinese
     
  3. AsianRage

    AsianRage Know about Media Ventures?

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  4. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    This is just the beginning. Soon many cars sold in the US will likely have Chinese assembled components, or be wholly made in China.
     
  5. evolution

    evolution New Member

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    mawahhaha :big grin:
     

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