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Chevrolet Finds New Road Cruiser in Shanghai with FNR-X Concept

“Clear masculine lines” and some cutting-edge technologies.

by on Apr.20, 2017

Officials says that the FNR-X isn't a sure thing for China, but at the Shanghai Motor Show purely to gauge interest.

Chevrolet is taking its current tagline, “Find New Roads” to new extremes – at least in China – with the second in a series of concept vehicles debuting this week at the Shanghai Motor Show.

The latest one, using shorthand, is the FNR-X, a concept version of what could be a radical take on a plug-in crossover-utility vehicle. Initial impressions suggests it would go into the emerging market for downsized utes like the Toyota C-HR and Honda HR-V.

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The FNR-X adopts a “powerful, attractive design language,” with “clear, masculine lines,” says Chevy, including an aggressive nose that could have been lifted off the Camaro, a high beltline and a floating roof. But the most eye-catching feature is the concept’s use of rear suicide doors, minus the traditional B-pillars, providing easy and dramatic access to its interior.

There you will find a surprisingly well-outfitted package, with adjustable ambient lighting, touch-based OLED displays that offer far more natural-looking images than current vehicle touchscreen technology. There’s also an oversized head-up display system that incorporates augmented reality, or AR. That allows information to be overlaid onto the real world – for example, the system could highlight a potential obstacle, whether another vehicle or a pedestrian, to ensure a motorist reacted in time.

(GM playing an offensive game, determined to remain a leader in China. Click Here for the story.)

As one might expect of any modern show car, the FLR-X incorporates autonomous vehicle technology, which isn’t much of a stretch anymore, GM being cited as having one of the most advanced self-driving vehicle program in the industry, according to a recent study by the Boston Consulting Group. However, we’ll remain skeptical until we see a system capable of coping with the insane traffic human motorists routinely deal with in cities like Shanghai and Beijing.

Chinese regulators have passed some of the world’s toughest automotive emissions standards, hoping to address the country’s endemic smog problems. That has turned this year’s Shanghai show into a race to see which manufacturer has the latest and greatest zero-emissions vehicle technology. For the FNR-X, Chevy has opted for a plug-in hybrid driveline.

Chevy isn’t offering any details on what sort of system that would be, though one might suspect it would opt for a version of the plug-in tech used by the Chevrolet Volt. In a curious twist, the Volt is getting ready to debut in China, but it will be sold as a Buick – named the Velite 5 – in the world’s largest market for plug-based vehicles. That appears to reflect the stronger, more upscale position Buick has in the Chinese market.

(Chevy hopes to position new Equinox as #1 in its SUV class. Click Here for the story.)

The FNR-X concept, meanwhile, appears to have at least some modest SUV chops. Its driver mode control can be switched to Sport or to Versatility, the latter setting giving the vehicle more ground clearance for off-roading. In Sport, the car lowers, the suspension gets more taught, and the active aero body repositions the front and rear spoilers and side skirts to reduce drag.

The X concept follows the debut of the original Find New Roads, or FNR, show car at Shanghai two years ago. What’s next is the obvious question.

“It’s a concept, right now, strictly for China, to gauge reaction,” said Randy Fox, a global Chevrolet spokesman. Take that as you will, though some reports have suggested that the FNR-X could wind up working the auto show circuit starting later this year. We’ll be pressing for more information to see if that would include major European and North American shows such as those in Frankfurt and Los Angeles, and possibly Detroit.

(To see more of Mercedes’ Concept A sedan debuting in Shanghai, Click Here.)

While some of the features on the FNR-X, like the five-seater’s pillarless suicide doors and AR display, are unlike to follow through into production, we’d be surprised if Chevrolet isn’t seriously considering a model of this general size and shape. That could mean a replacement for an existing model or, in this world of extensive product proliferation, Chevy may just have found another new vehicle it wants to put on the road.

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