Detroit 2008: The Return of ChangFeng!

click above to view more images of the ChengFeng Leopard and Kylin

ChangFeng Motors was here last year and made the familiar claim that its Chinese cars would soon be on sale in the U.S. The Chinese automaker made the pilgrimage to Detroit again this year and was welcomed with open arms by Carl Galeana, Chairman of the North American International Auto Show, and Wayne County Councilman Robert Ficano. The warm greeting between these officials and ChangFeng Chairman Li Jianxin is proof positive that Michigan is looking to China for a way out of its economic slump.

Big ups to Chairman Li who abandoned the comfort and familiarity of his native tongue to tackle a three-page speech in English, though it was unfortunately for naught as we couldn't understand a single word he said. Thankfully we happened upon a transcript of the speech so we could tell you about these two vehicles shown by ChangFeng at the show.

The first is the Leopard CS6, the design of which we actually like because it was not only designed by famed Italian firm Pininfarina, but it also bears a slight resemblance to a Hyundai Santa Fe, one of the prettier CUVs on the market. ChangFeng says it's built on the Pajero V Series platform, presumably sourced from Mitsubishi. We think it has all-wheel-drive or, as the Chinese translate it, a "full driven system". That gives the CS6 "the perfect combination of military industry performance and urban fashion." Indeed.

The other car shown by ChangFeng today was the Kylin, which is already on sale in Japan. The five-door wagon isn't very attractive, but it's chassis was tuned by Lotus, so it's got that going for it. Powered by a 1.8L Mitsubishi engine, the little car is economical and might actually be fun to drive if it were ever sold here.

There's the rub, though. Last year when ChangFeng debuted in Detroit it claimed it would be selling cars in the U.S. soon. Today we got the same speech, just one year later with little visible progress made in the interim.

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