Throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia, car making is a serious business that requires the utmost in engineering and design. In China, it’s a different story. There is an auto industry there but one is hard-pressed to think of any good original cars to come from the nation. Instead, they depend on copies of cars made by other companies. In fact, Chinese auto companies don’t even bother hiding how they’re copying other companies. They get away with it due to the fact that trademark laws are much different in China and makes lawsuits more problematic.
The other issue is that China is rather infamous for making cheap goods. In terms of cars, that means they’ll use the cheapest materials imaginable and thus a lot more plastic than chrome or metal. So many of these knockoffs just aren’t that good on their own as decent rides. Here are 20 of the most blatant car knock-offs imaginable and how a cheap copy of a decent ride isn’t worth the hassle.
20 Youxia X
It was only a matter of time before China tried to emulate Tesla. The front hood with blinking red lights makes it look like an attempt to “cosplay” KITT from Knight Rider. The makers boast on how it can get 348 horsepower but tests don’t seem to back that up. That’s not helped by how China’s criteria for speed and power is different than in the U.S. Tesla really shouldn’t be staying up at night worrying about this rather cheap copy.
19 Suzhou Eagle Carrie
It may look like a Porsche at first glance, right down to the logo. However, closer view shows that it appears like an unholy mix of a Porsche and a Ferrari. As it turns out, mixing two great cars does not produce an even better one. The fact it’s an electric car means it requires a serious battery charge to get going and covers far less ground than either of the high-speed models it’s emulating. This Eagle ends up being pretty grounded in many ways.
18 Lifan 320
Whether it’s the original 320 or the 330, the idea of a knock-off of the mini-Cooper was doomed to failure. It’s not enough that the design is bad with rough contours and a very cramped interior. Far worse was the idiotic idea of putting in a standard transmission so drivers would have to shift through a five-speed gearbox in Beijing traffic. It’s amazing how the developers could ignore such an obvious design flaw in separate models.
17 Laibao SRV
Honda tried to fight this in court as they argued the Laibao was as much as a carbon copy of the CR-V as possible. Indeed, it looks so much like the real thing that it’s astounding. Maybe there’s a slight difference in the side profile but that’s it. Laibao actually claimed any resemblance was “minor” despite the obvious similarities. It truly ranks as one of the biggest cases of a Chinese company engaging in what's basically open theft.
16 BYD S8
Originally called the F8, it was renamed yet remains a blatant take on the Mercedes CLK. That might last until it becomes clear the convertible top doesn’t retract all the way. It weighs over 3300 pounds which means it takes 14 seconds to get from 0 to 60. In short, it’s supposed to be a sporty convertible but would struggle to get going for a simple trip to the grocery store. No wonder avoiding the “fast” label was a good idea for the company.
15 Chery QQ
The size of this is a major issue. The entire car is barely 12 feet long with five doors. That is not a misprint. The engine doesn’t even get to 1.0 L, there’s no radio or air conditioning and the brakes are off too. Also, the company’s design was such a massive rip-off of the Chevrolet Spark that GM filed a lawsuit. Thus, this isn’t just a horrible knock-off car but also a truly terrible ride on its own “merits.”
14 Rayttle E28
Of all the cars to copy, why a Chinese company would pick the Twizzy is beyond anyone. The French-made automobile has long been mocked for its ridiculous design and low mileage and even police are embarrassed to drive them. Yet somehow, the Rayttle E28 manages to be even worse. It makes the design more of a joke and the cheaper materials mean it can’t even get to the speeds the Twizzy can. It just shows how a knock-off of a bad car just ends up as junk.
13 Jiangnan TT
Meet the cheapest car in China. Seriously, this copy of the Suzuki Alto goes for as low as $15, 800 yuan or roughly $2,145 in the U.S. It’s meant as an “economy” car for families and in that case, it does a good job which barely makes up for how much garbage it is. It’s ugly, it’s cheaply made and it barely gets any mileage. Even Russian carmakers would be laughing at this, which is one of the biggest pieces of junk put on any market.
12 Geely GE
It’s bad enough that Geely put out such a blatant copy of a Rolls-Royce. But they also had it displayed at the Shanghai Auto Show near a real Rolls and Phantom just to con folks into thinking it was a straight copy. They even had the gall to claim it was better than the iconic car. Rolls-Royce actually threatened a lawsuit but backed down when it became clear that sales of the GE weren’t going to be a major threat. It’s still a daring knock-off by the company.
11 Shaunghaun Noble
It takes real guts to call this mess “noble.” Daimar tried to prevent it from being shown at the 2004 Bolonga Motor Show due to its take on the Smart car. Martin Motors counted by saying this was a four-seater and even the tag line “smarter than the rest.” That’s until one actually drives it as its design (it was called “The Bubble”) looks cartoonish and the engine is nowhere near the limits of a Smart. This was really a dumb move to try and copy Daimar.
10 CH Auto Lithia
If you’re going to try and rip off an Audi, you could at least get the paneling right. Instead, this copy has a poor design that lacks the sleek curves of the original car and the good interiors. There’s also how China has yet the crack the whole EV thing just yet. It claims the Lithia can get 93 miles on a charge but no one has actually been able to test that. Given the poor materials involved, it’s doubtful this copy matches the Audi in any respect.
9 Geely SC7 RV
Geeley really has a thing about doing knock-offs of luxury automobiles. A joke is that walking through a Geely dealership is like seeing the thrown-out early designs from Rolls-Royce factories. The SC7 is clearly meant to emulate the Bentley in its hatchback design and exterior. That doesn’t make up for how cheap it looks in materials and far more plastic than metal being used. It’s really showing how far some folks will go to look more luxurious than they are.
8 Shaunghaun SCEO
Its baffling code name is HBJ6474Y which sounds like a complex computer password. What’s more clear is that this mixes in elements of both the BMW X5 and Land Cruiser Prado. Shaunghaun really went the extra mile by actually offering the chance to but BMW labels and license plates onto the car so it looked like the real thing. BMW actually sued to ban the car in Germany while it can continue to be used in China.
7 Landwind X7
As soon as the Landwind was announced in 2015, there was a lot of talk on the very strong resemblance of the X7 and the Range Rover Evoque. Indeed, they were so close that Jaguar Range Rover filed a lawsuit against Jiangling Motor which led to a complex situation of the Chinese authorities canceling the patents for both automobiles. As it is, the Landwind isn’t too bad in terms of a knock-off which actually makes its blatant copying more notable.
6 Brilliance V5
The jokes just write themselves. This knock off of a BMW X1 SUV was intended to work well as a family car in China. However, it lacks the good design of the X1 and is rather blocky in parts. That’s without the bad materials and lower engine that fails to reach the same speeds as the X1 and also lacks the power to handle carrying the right loads. There really is nothing “Brilliant” about this poor copy.
5 Dongfeng EQ2050
They actually have the gall to call this the “Brave Soldier.” The only thing brave about it is how Dongfeng decided to put out such a horrible copy of the Hummer and think folks would buy it. It looks like the bolts and chrome were attached almost as an afterthought instead of being a key part of the vehicle. This appears more like the cheap background item in an action flick than a useable vehicle and expecting folks to take it over the real thing is laughable.
4 Zonda A9
Yes, even buses aren’t safe from Chinese knockoffs. In this case, Zonda took the blueprints for the German Starliner and didn’t even hide building their own copy. It’s almost exact in contours, interiors and such yet lacking some of the amenities of the regular Starliner. Thanks to the cheap parts, the engine is lacking and thus this can’t get to the same speeds as the Starliner to make it just a cheap replica.
3 BAIC BJ70
The “BJ” stands for “Beijing” so it’s making no bones over where it was actually made. That limits the possibility of it being mistaken for a regular Jeep Wrangler. No one has taken them head to head but by all accounts, the BJ70 lacks both the engine power and the carrying abilities of a Wrangler. Not to mention tests show it can’t quite handle the terrain as well either. At least it’s not bothering to hide it’s not the real deal which is better than most knock-offs on this list.
2 Landscape V3
Some titles just don’t translate well overseas. Sure, “landscape” sounds good with its idea of large vistas and some gardening. However, it doesn’t work as well for a copy of an RX. It just doesn't look good with bad curving that can’t hide the shoddy construction work. The paneling looks off and it doesn’t appear large enough on the inside for many passengers. This Landscape doesn’t meet the criteria correctly.
1 Zotye T700
First, having a car that sounds like “Zygote” isn’t exactly the best idea. Second, it’s pretty obvious that this is for people who can’t afford a real Macan so take a replica that looks like it down to the logos. It’s the engines where they differ as the Zotye lacks the amazing power of the Macan and comes off as a noisy and slow vehicle. It’s also incredibly cheap which just adds to how it’s literally “a poor man’s Porsche.”
Sources: Autowise, motor1.com, jalopnik.com