Shanghai motor show 2021: All the star cars to watch out for

From a sleek new Audi saloon to several new electric SUVs, these are the star cars being put on display at the Shanghai motor show...

Toyota BZ4X concept front

You might not think that the Shanghai motor show in China holds much significance for car buyers in the UK, but the models unveiled there could eventually come to Britain directly – or at least influence the cars you'll be able to buy. It's well worth taking note, then, of the vehicles that are heading to the show floor, which in 2021 include a plethora of new electric cars in guises ranging from luxury saloons to seven-seat SUVs. Here's what we know about each of them so far.

Audi A6 E-tron

Audi A6 E-tron concept

The A6 E-tron previews a fully electric version of the next Audi A6 luxury saloon, which will be sold alongside versions with conventional petrol and diesel engines from around 2023. It's based on new underpinnings developed in co-operation with Porsche, which will use them for its new all-electric Macan SUV from 2022. An SUV-shaped Q6 E-tron is also planned, and is due to be revealed in the second half of next year.

Powered by a 100kW battery pack, the A6 E-tron is said to have a range of around 435 miles – further than all but the range-topping Plaid+ version of the Tesla Model S will get you between charges. Although revealed in Shanghai with two electric motors and a combined 469bhp available, versions of the A6 E-tron with a single electric motor and lower power are also planned. The A6 E-tron can utilise the fastest charging points, allowing 186 miles of range to be added in just 10 minutes.

We've yet to see inside the car, but expect it to look similar to Audi's latest E-tron models, including the recently revealed Q4 E-tron and Q4 E-tron Sportback, with digital instruments and a large touchscreen infotainment system angled toward the driver.

Genesis G80

Genesis G80 front

You could think of Genesis as being to Hyundai what Lexus is to Toyota – a luxury off-shoot. The G80 is the brand's first electric car and is expected to go on sale in the UK within the next year. It's powered by two electric motors which together produce 365bhp, and offers four-wheel drive. It's likely to receive the same 72.6kWh battery pack as the upcoming Hyundai Ioniq 5 and, as with that car, you will be able to use the G80 to power external tools or devices, or even charge up other electric cars. In terms of range, it should be capable of covering 250 miles between charges comfortably. Key rivals will include the Tesla Model S and Audi E-tron GT.

There's no word on pricing yet, but when sales do begin, Genesis is expected to sell them out of existing Hyundai showrooms rather than create bespoke new ones.

Lexus ES 

Lexus ES front

Lexus's rival for the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6 luxury saloons is getting an update, with slightly tweaked styling and a stiffer suspension set-up that is said to make the car feel more agile. There is also a new brake pedal that is designed to reduce vibrations being felt from inside the car while also providing greater stopping power. The ES is due to receive new adaptive LED headlights, which are already fitted to the more expensive LS and RS,  and replace the existing LEDs which come as standard on every ES.

There's no word on pricing for now, but we'd expect a small increase compared with today's car, which starts at £34,705.

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Maserati Levante Hybrid

2021 Maserati Levante front

The Maserati Levante is a well-equipped and stylish luxury SUV, but it isn't what you'd call green, with only 3.0-litre petrol or diesel engines to choose from. That's about to change, though, with the introduction of a new mild hybrid variant which pairs a 2.0-litre petrol engine with a small electric motor. The set-up can offer small bursts of electrical power to help get you up to speed, as well as reducing the load on the engine when you're cruising on the motorway. It also cuts the Levante's C02 emissions down to as low as 231g/km, while still offering up 325bhp and a 0-62mph sprint time of six seconds.

The new hybrid model will be offered only in range-topping GT trim, which brings chrome detailing and bespoke badging. The regular Levante is being updated as well, with a new grille, a higher-resolution infotainment system and reshaped rear lights. No prices have been announced yet, but expect them to increase from the £64,705 of today's car.

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MG Cyberster

MG Cyberster concept front

Described as being a vision of the future, the MG Cyberster is a two-seat electric sports car capable of travelling 497 miles on a single charge – further than most rival electric cars. It's also capable of reaching 60mph from a standing start in less than three seconds and has 5G connectivity onboard. Among the car's many futuristic features are LED lights which "open" when they're switched on, LED light strips which run the length of the car and a Union Jack design for the rear lights. No more details have been revealed yet, but it's unlikely that the Cyberster itself will ever make production. Instead, some of its technologies and design cues are likely to filter down into MG's road-going range.

Nissan X-Trail

2021 Nissan X-trail front

Due to go on sale in Summer 2022, the new X-Trail will follow the latest Nissan Qashqai in using the firm's so-called ePower technology, where a petrol engine lies under the bonnet but is only used to charge a battery pack. That means the X-Trail will effectively be a range-extender electric car, and a unique offering in the large SUV market. It's likely that the system will use the same 1.5-litre petrol engine and front-mounted electric motor as the Qashqai, which develops 188bhp. 

Seven seats will remain an option on the new X-Trail, while there's also said to be more comfy suspension and a more responsive steering setup. While the ePower X-Trail will be front-wheel drive, Nissan has already confirmed that at least one four-wheel drive variant will join the range, probably powered by a conventional petrol engine.

Prices are expected to start at around £29,000, meaning the new X-Trail will be priced broadly in line with seven-seat SUV rivals including the Skoda Kodiaq and Peugeot 5008.

Toyota bZ4X concept front

It might not have a catchy name, but the BZ4X is Toyota's first electric SUV. Using new electric power systems co-developed with Subaru, the BZ4X offers four-wheel drive from its two electric motors, legroom that's said to be on par with the Lexus LS luxury saloon, and a focus on connectivity. There are not many firm details available at the moment, but we do know that the car gets a digital instrument cluster which echoes the design of recent Peugeot models by having you look above the steering wheel rather than through it, plus a large infotainment touchscreen.

When it does go on sale, the BZ4X will likely crown Toyota's range, meaning a starting price of around £52,000, and a list of electric SUV rivals which will include the new Nissan X-Trail mentioned above, as well as the Volvo XC40 Recharge and Mercedes EQB.

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