Concept-Changfeng Liebao CS6 Preview

FAST FACTS
  • Midsize traditional-type SUV, made in China

  • Could be first Chinese model to enter U.S. market

  • Comfort and Luxury trim levels in China

  • Optional 4-wheel drive (4WD)

Introduction

Speculation about entry of some Chinese auto manufacturer into the American market has been inescapable over the past couple of years. More than one company has been rumored to be the likeliest one to be first. Changfeng brought a sampling of its wares to Detroit's North American International Auto Show in January 2008. This was the second visit to the Detroit show for the Chinese automaker, which markets vehicles under the Liebao Motor brand. Two brand-new production models were unveiled in Detroit: a CS7 hatchback and a Kylin wagon. Nevertheless, the already-existing Liebao CS6 looks like a stronger bet for eventual export to the United States. A Changfeng official stated that it has "a good chance" for finding a spot in the U.S. market. Changfeng is staying quiet about a specific time frame for possible export plans; but at the Detroit show, the company stated a hope for 2009 as a starting point. Changfeng maintains ties with foreign automakers, including Mitsubishi.

Model LineupPininfarina, the renowned Italian design firm, earns credit for the CS6 design. Comfort and Luxury trim levels are offered in China with 4WD. With 2WD, only the standard Comfort trim is available. Front air conditioning is standard on both models. Rear air conditioning is installed only on the Luxury trim level. Heated, folding, power mirrors are standard. A sizable power sunroof is standard on the Luxury model and optional with Comfort-level trim. Heated seats are optional in Comfort and Luxury editions.

Hardware

Traditional in construction, the CS6 uses a separate body and frame; it's not a unibodied crossover model. Measuring 196 inches long on a 107.3-inch wheelbase, the CS6 is 73.6 inches wide and 74.4 inches tall. Alloy wheels hold 17-inch tires. Under the hood, a 2.4-liter gasoline engine produces 92 kilowatts (horsepower rating not supplied). A 2.5-liter diesel engine also is available, delivering 105 kilowatts of power, but almost twice the torque output of the gasoline powerplant. Currently in China, only a manual transmission is offered. Top speed is claimed to be 160 kilometers per hour with 2WD, or 140 with 4WD. The CS6 has a wading depth of 500 millimeters (19.6 inches). At the Detroit show, Changfeng claimed that a Liebao CS6 will get 30-mpg fuel economy.

Safety

As manufactured for the domestic Chinese market, the CS6 lacks side air bags or curtain-type air bags. Naturally, before going on sale in North America, the CS6 (or any Changfeng/Liebao model) would have to pass appropriate crash testing and other safety evaluations. Anti-lock braking and electronic brake-force distribution are standard. So is a rear parking sensor, but electronic stability control is not currently available.

Technology

Not much evidence of fresh technology comes with the CS6, at least as it's currently produced for the Chinese market. Entertainment is available, though. Luxury models include a DVD player with a 6.5-inch dashboard screen, as well as 8-way power seats with leather upholstery. A GPS-based navigation system is optional on 4WD versions.