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Great call of China
China’s own supercar developer, Icona, stole the show with its V12 hybrid/electric-powered Vulcano.

In a relatively short time the Chinese car market has grown from insignificant to the biggest in the world.

A decade ago fewer cars were sold in China than Australia but five years later it had grown to become the biggest market, overtaking the US.

Last year, more cars were sold in China than all of Europe and this year sales are expected to top 20 million. By the end of the decade it is estimated there will be 200 million vehicles being driven on Chinese roads.

So it is hardly surprising to learn that more than 100 manufacturers are now vying for a slice of this very large and profitable pie.

The Shanghai Motor Show had more than 1300 vehicles on display in 18 halls and by the time it closes next week the organisers estimate that more than 800,000 visitors will have passed through the doors.

While the vast majority of cars on display are targeted specifically at the local Chinese market, it has become the show of choice for some of the world's most expensive cars. Brands such as Aston Martin, Bugatti, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and Rolls- Royce were all present.

But it was China's own supercar developer, Icona, that captured the most attention, with its stylish two-door Vulcano.

In typical Chinese style, the Vulcano appears to have "borrowed" some design cues from several other front-engined supercars.

Icona claims the car, which is powered by a 670kW 6.0-litre V12 hybrid/electric engine, has a top speed of 350km/h and can accelerate from 0-200km/h in less than 10 seconds.

There were also some cars that we are likely to see in Australia over the next few years or have had some Australian influence in their design.

Here are a few vehicles on display that caught our eye.

  • FORD ESCORT *

The Ford Escort concept, right, received a fair bit of Australian input in both name and design.

Ford used the show to revive one of its iconic nameplates.

And Ford Australia had a fair bit of input in both the name and design of the Escort concept.

Unfortunately, the likelihood of it coming to Australia is remote, but it deserves a mention.

It not only resurrects an iconic Ford nameplate, but it is also a pretty cool-looking car.

The Escort was a huge success for the Blue Oval brand in Europe and also here in Australia in the mid-1970s.

The small sedan and panel van were replaced here in 1980 by the Laser hatchback, which was itself replaced by the Focus.

The Escort concept is designed to appeal to younger buyers and is aimed specifically at the Chinese market. It sits on the same underpinnings as the Focus but with a slightly larger body, which translates to more interior space.

The MG SC SUV concept, is similar in size to the Hyundai ix35 and Kia Sportage.

  • MG CS CONCEPT *

MG, which has recently been bought out by Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) revealed its first foray into the booming SUV market.

And with the brand recently relaunched in Australia (though there still are no in dealerships in WA) it is expected to be available Down Under sometime in 2014.

MG's newly established Australian arm is seeking expressions of interest from WA dealers to sell the MG6 small sedan and hatch it launched on the east coast earlier this month.

The official press release that was sent out with the launch had plenty of flowery words about the company's commitment and MG's history of penning stunning vehicles, but no technical details about the vehicle.

Similar in size to the Hyundai ix35 and Kia Sportage, it is likely to share the same underpinnings as the G3 small car which is available with the option of a 1.5-litre, 1.8-litre or 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine or a 1.9-litre diesel.

The stunning BMW X4 will use the same mechanical package as the X3 wagon.

  • BMW X4 CONCEPT *

When BMW first showed its X6 concept in 1999 it was roundly ridiculed for creating a car - and a segment - that nobody wanted.

But BMW stuck to its guns and produced the world's first Sports Activity Vehicle. A decade later it has proved a huge success.

In Shanghai, the German car maker showed off the second vehicle in the range, the so-called X4 Sports Activity Coupe concept.

Unlike its bigger sibling, which polarised the motoring fraternity, the X4 is a stunning-looking vehicle and is due to go into production in 2014.

BMW isn't giving too much away before the unveiling of its latest high-riding model in lightly veiled concept car form, but it will use the same mechanical package as the X3 wagon.

This means engine choices are likely to include the turbocharged 185kW 2.0-litre four-cylinder and 230kW 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol units along with 140kW 2.0-litre four-cylinder and 230kW 3.0-litre six-cylinder common-rail diesels.

A plug-in-hybrid powertrain, using the latest version of the 3 Series ActiveHybrid's petrol- electric system, with a 230kW turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine and 40kW electric motor for combined system output of 255kW, is also under development.

In Australia the X4 is expected to start at about $65,000, which would put it in direct competition with the Range Rover Evoque.