The Beijing Auto BJ90 seems finally ready for China, one black example was seen at a dealer. The BJ90 is the new flagship SUV for the Beijing Auto brand, it debuted in concept form back in 2010. It is now expected to hit the Chinese car market in November.
The Beijing Auto BJ90 is based, down until the alloys, on the X166 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class. Beijing Auto can use the GL under a technology-transfer agreement with Mercedes-Benz, in the same way as the upcoming Senova C90L sedan will be based on the Mercedes-Benz E-Class L.
Beijing Auto and Daimler-Benz are very close; they have the successful Beijing-Benz joint venture and Daimler owns a 12% stake in BAIC Motor, the parent company of the Beijing Auto brand.
The relationship isn’t always very smooth however; Daimler-Benz is reportedly still very pissed off about the Beijing Auto BJ80, a G-Class clone that was developed without any permission or support of the Germans.
The Mercedes-Benz GL-Class is presently sold in China as an import with price ranging from 1.03 million yuan to 1.52 million yuan, but the new GLS is on the way and will arrive in Q1 2016. Price for the BJ90 will start around 800.000 yuan or 125.000 USD.
The Beijing Auto BJ90 will be manufactured by Beijing Auto Works (BAW), just like the Beijing Auto BJ40. It will be sold via the Beijing Auto dealer network, alongside the Senova range. It is by far the largest passenger car Beijing Auto has ever made.
Interestingly, BAW doesn’t really seem to ‘make’ the BJ90. We have seen photos of a parking lot at the factory filled to the absolute max with GL-Class cars. It appears that BAW just changes body panels, parts of the dashboard, rear seats, and badges, and leaves it at that. This is not uncommon in China, Hongqi for example created the CA7460 in exactly the same way.
The drivetrain of the BJ90 is completely Mercedes; it will be available with two engines: a 3.0 twin-turbo V6 with 333hp and 480nm (GL400), and a 4.0 twin-turbo V8 with 421hp and 600nm (GL500). Transmission is the MB seven-speed automatic, sending power to all four wheels via the MB 4matic four-wheel drive system.
The Beijing Auto BJ90 will compete directly with the upcoming Hongqi LS5 SUV, which will be powered by a 4.0 twin-turbo V8 with 381hp and 530nm, mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
The interior too is taken from Mercedes. Beijing Auto only changed the steering wheel and the layout of the center stack to fit a bigger screen. The center tunnel, the instrument panel, the upholstery, and even the seats were all left unchanged.
BAW did make some changes in the back, replacing the bench with two captain seats and a fixed armrest.
Trendy tail lights and connected with a fat chrome strip. Lower bumper in chrome too, with the pipes integrated.
One in green.
But can it really compete with the likes of Haval, Geely, BYD, GAC, Wuling & Changan?
Let alone the ‘A-listers’, the Krauts, Japs, Koreans and the Americans