At this week's Shanghai auto show, upscale German and Japanese automakers unveiled several new models designed to appeal to China's booming upper middle class—whose tastes nearly mirror those of American consumers.
Chinese buyers like luxury at a reasonable price point and they prefer sedans and crossovers to the hatchbacks favored in Europe. Over the last few years, China's major auto show has had an increasingly large relevancy for Americans.
Though we're thousands of miles apart, much of what debuted in Shanghai will eventually head to dealers in the United States. Here's a look at what gleamed on the show floor in Shanghai and why they might matter to you:
2018 Mercedes-AMG S65Enlarge Photo
2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
Mercedes treated its flagship sedan range to a gentle update for 2018. While you'll have to squint to see what's new, there's plenty hidden from sight that should make an already excellent luxury four-door even better. New headlights and taillights are standard mid-cycle fare (the current S-Class has been around since 2014), but the sport-oriented AMG model has its own more deeply cut bumper design. Inside, the innovative dual screens that comprise the S-Class' instrument panel remain, but there's a single pane of glass over them for a cleaner look. Last year's quirky two-spoke steering wheel, which many likened to the face of a clown (which you now can't unsee—sorry!) has been replaced with a sporty three-spoke unit with touch-sensitive controls.
There's also a "wellness" mode that connects the climate control system with the in-car fragrance system (yes, that's a thing), lighting, and the many heating, cooling, and massaging functions of the seats to make an already cosseting driving experience that much more pleasant.
Mercedes is a self-driving pioneer and the S-Class typically shows off the brand's latest tech. Now, it's a feature that automatically adjusts the vehicle's speed as it approaches diversions like curves, highway exits, roundabouts, and toll plazas. Additionally, a new feature lets drivers simply tap the turn signal stalk and, if it senses an opening, the S-Class can automatically move into the lane selected.
For those who prefer to motor themselves, the base S450 now boasts a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 rated at 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. From there, the lineup climbs to the S560 with its 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 making 463 hp and 516 pound-feet. The Mercedes-AMG S63, meanwhile, has a smaller—but more powerful—V-8: a 4.0-liter twin-turbo unit rated at 603 hp and 664 lb-ft.
2018 Lexus NXEnlarge Photo
2018 Lexus NX
Lexus says that it has reworked the NX compact crossover's suspension and steering to provide it with ride and handling characteristics more in line with luxury buyer expectations. New springs, revised stabilizer bars, and different bushings are all part of the nitty gritty beneath the surface that may turn the 2018 NX into a different animal.
It won't be any quicker since its engines—a turbo-4 and a hybrid system—are unchanged. But buyers may not immediately realize that, since the NX 200t (the gas-only model) has been rebadged NX 300. The hybrid remains the NX 300h.
The NX also looks a little different inside and out; the most noteworthy differences might be new toggle switches that simplify the climate control's previously button-heavy panel and a 10.3-inch infotainment screen to replace last year's 7.0-inch unit.
2018 BMW M4 CSEnlarge Photo
2018 BMW M4 CS
BMW fills the gap between its mainstream M4 sports coupe and its downright bonkers, track-day M4 GTS with the new limited-edition M4 CS. With 454 horsepower underhood, the M4 CS a little peppier than the M4 with its optional Competition package and that helps slice its 0-62 mph sprint to 3.9 seconds. To make the most of that power, the M4 CS has forged aluminum suspension components and its numerous electronic do-dads have been tweaked to improve handling and power delivery.
The M4 CS stands apart with its own lightweight alloy wheels and carbon fiber-reinforced plastic body panels outside and Alcantara synthetic suede peppered across its interior.
Look for more CS-badged models to make their way into the BMW M lineup in the future as BMW looks to expand the appeal of its M brand in the face of stiff competition from Mercedes-AMG.