Of the "Big-Five" auto shows--Detroit, Geneva, New York, Frankfurt/Paris, and Tokyo--none had played host to a Chinese manufacturer until Geely's five-car display broke cover at this year's Frankfurt gathering. The centerpiece was the CD, a sports coupe saddled with unfortunate styling (it resembled a Hyundai Tiburon left out to melt in the sun) and a decidedly unsporty 93-hp, 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine. A five-door, called the HQ, was shown in a bright green; its 54-hp 1.1-liter three-cylinder engine promised 75 mph and nearly 43 mpg. Like the balance of the cars on the stand, it was slathered in paint that was apparently applied by roller and wore some of the waviest body panels this side of a demolition derby.
The rest of the lineup was fleshed out by three sedans, two wearing Geely badges and one from Geely's luxury marque, Maple. The Geely CK--which reminded us of early Korean offerings in both appearance and quality--is motivated by the same 1.5-liter four from the CD. Geely's other sedan, the FC, is the most modern-looking and powerful (134 hp) of the five. The final model, the Maple Marindo 303, resembled some sort of poorly executed homage to early-'80s Saabs, and was powered by a 111-hp four capable of sending the four-door from 0 to 62 mph in about eighteen seconds. (Don't hold your breath while you wait for 100.)
With the five cars displaying low-level materials, poor build quality, and uneven panel gaps, it's apparent that Geely isn't quite ready for the U.S.. But, as our automotive design editor, Robert Cumberford, points out, "They're no worse than Japanese cars were when they first came to the United States." So you should laugh now while you still can, because as the Koreans have proven, a lot can change in a short period of time.