Since 2002, Hawtai has been a partner of Hyundai, building Santa Fe and Terracan for the Chinese market. Just like several other SUV makers including Great Wall, Jiangling, and Zotye, it finds irresistible an expansion into the the sedan segment–after all, only those three-box people-movers are considered proper cars by many Chinese. Now with the B11 mid-size, its first ever sedan, rolling off production line in Rongcheng, Shandong on August 16, Hawtai seems to feel more complete as an automaker–or does it?
Even for many who commonly see copycat cars here, Hawtai B11 is astonishing for its audacity and pretentiousness. Although a few details have been changed to make the imitation less conspicuous since its debut at the 2010 Beijing Auto Show, the Bentley grill and BMW5 headlights are still unmistakable, and put together in a weird sort of way. With a 2764mm wheelbase and 4943mm body length, B11 strives to be grand on the outside, while half-heatedly attempting to achieve a feel of solidity and endurance.
Inside, it gets the Kavachi 1.8L Turbo found on SAIC’s Roewe 550 and MG6, which can put out 118Kw/5500rpm and 215Nm/2100-4500rpm. A Hawtai 2.0L diesel and a Mitsubishi 2.4 gasoline engine may be employed in the future.
A major bright spot is the In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) system from Intel, including a DVD theatre with 8-inch touch screen displays, GPS, 3G connection, and parking camera.
Although priced modestly between 100,000 and 160,000 yuan, B11 is a risky bet. Home-grown brand sedans have yet to achieve real success above the 120,000 yuan price level. And so far we do not see Hawtai can make the breakthrough.
General release is scheduled in October. Two other all-new models, the B35 SUV and B21 sedan, will be launched a few months after.