• If it's 2014, it must be Beijing
  • According to Chinese astrology, this is the year of the horsepower
  • Enough plush cars to please an emperor

The 2014 Beijing Auto Show is one of the world's grandest pieces of 4-wheeled theater. Beijing hosts an auto show once every two years, alternating with Shanghai, and these events have increased in significance as China becomes more important to car makers. The ever-growing domestic manufacturing industry has a significant presence, but companies from all over the world -- especially the high-end marques -- will spend considerable amounts of yuan to make their stands impressive.

Production Values

If this Beijing show will be remembered for one thing, it will probably be the introduction of the Lexus NX premium compact crossover. Smaller than the RX and therefore a competitor in the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque/BMW X4 bracket, the NX is an all-new model, due to go on sale throughout the world in the fall. There will be a hybrid version in the range, and the NX is the first Lexus to offer a turbocharged engine.

Enthusiasts might have a different reason to look back on this show with fondness, especially if they're driving the Volkswagen Golf R Evo that makes its debut here. The regular R stands as the current pinnacle of the Golf range (not available in the U.S. for 2014, though), packing 296 horsepower. The Golf R Evo is lighter by around 200 pounds and reported to be packing an extra 55 hp. Throw in a lower, stiffer suspension plus bucket-style front seats (while ditching the rear seats altogether), and we truly have a Golf on a mission.

A revamped 2015 Volkswagen Touareg also makes its world debut here. We'll have more information on this premium midsize crossover SUV from the show floor.

For anyone with $3 million to burn on a car, try the fifth Legend edition of the Bugatti Veyron, one for China's answer to Simon Cowell. That mountain of moolah does buy 1,184 hp and an element of exclusivity even among other Veyron owners.

Understanding Concepts

The official title is the disappointingly bland Audi Showcar Beijing 2014, but it's basically an Audi Q4 concept. It follows what seems to be the trend right now for sleek-looking crossovers. This one has all-wheel drive and a plug-in hybrid powertrain. If the rumors are true, there really is going to be a Q4 at some point.

Given the Chinese capital's pollution issues, the Bentley Hybrid Concept should be most welcome. Based on the company's Mulsanne full-size luxury sedan and its employment of plug-in hybrid technology, this car is claimed to reduce emissions by 70 percent compared with a regular Mulsanne.

Beijing is the first place to see a new rival to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class: the BMW 9 Series concept. Unsurprisingly, it's bigger than the 7 Series and, perhaps a tad surprisingly, is anticipated to go on sale in 2016.

The 3-pointed star fights back with an opponent for the BMW X6: the Mercedes-Benz Concept Coupe SUV. Car-nerd gossip says that this vehicle provides a taste of the upcoming MLC-Class production vehicle.

Seems like the 2014 Beijing Auto Show is going to be a bumper year for concepts. And this list doesn't even go into those made-for-China projects, such as the Honda compact sport coupe looking suspiciously similar to a CR-Z, the Nissan New Sedan Concept or entries made by French companies CitroŽn and Peugeot.

The show's press day is April 20. There are sure to be more newsworthy happenings, and AutoTrader.com will be bringing all the highlights relevant to American drivers.

What it means to you: Even though Beijing is thousands of miles away and a completely different culture, it's reasonable to expect several stars of this show to appear on American streets in the near future.

author photo

Colin Ryan has driven hundreds of cars thousands of miles while writing for BBC Top Gear magazine, Popular Mechanics, the Los Angeles Times, European Car, Import Tuner and many other publications, websites, TV shows, etc.

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