China is the fastest-growing automotive market in the world. In fact, China may overtake the United States this year as the largest car market on the planet. It’s no surprise then that nearly every automaker has a presence at the 2009 Shanghai Auto Show, which runs through April 28. While many automakers have been on hand to show their wares to a car-hungry audience, they also made some significant announcements about new products and updated models during the press preview prior to the show’s public days. Here are notable new products from the Shanghai preview that should spark some interest with an American audience. 

Porsche Panamera

Click to enlarge picture2010 Porsche Panamera (© Porsche Cars North America)

2010 Porsche Panamera

The biggest news in Shanghai was the world debut of the 2010 Panamera, Porsche’s first-ever 4-door sedan — and a hatchback to boot. Set to hit the U.S. in October, the Panamera will offer three models, two engines, one transmission and rear- or all-wheel drive. The Panamera 4 and 4S will come with a 400-horsepower 4.8-liter V8. Thrust in the Panamera Turbo will come from a twin-turbocharged version of the V8, making 500 horsepower and launching the car to 60 mph in just four seconds. All models will use Porsche’s new double-clutch automated manual transmission. Prices will range from $89,000 for the Panamera 4 to $132,600 for the Turbo.

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2010 BMW 760Li

BMW revamped the 7-Series for the 2009 model year, dropping the V12-powered 760Li model in the process. At Shanghai, BMW showed the 2010 760Li, with an “all-new” and much more powerful V12 engine. While the last V12 was naturally aspirated and produced 438 horsepower, the new 6.0-liter 12-banger features twin turbochargers and puts out a whopping 544 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque — while also getting better fuel economy. Also new for the 760Li is an 8-speed automatic transmission, a first for BMW. The on-sale date and prices weren’t released, but expect the 760Li to approach $130,000.

2010 BMW X5 M

BMW unveiled the 2010 X6 M at the New York Auto Show just a few weeks ago. The X5 M was there, too, but BMW decided to highlight it in Shanghai. Like its X6 M sibling, the X5 M will be powered by a twin-turbocharged 4.8-liter V8 engine that puts out 555 horsepower. At BMW, M stands for performance as well as power, so the X5 M will come with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system and a stiffer suspension incorporating BMW’s Adaptive Drive electronically controlled shock absorbers. Inside, the X5 M gets sporty M seats and an M steering wheel. Exterior cues include a unique grille and 20-inch wheels.

2010 Audi Q7

The Audi Q7 is just three years old, but it’s already getting a midcycle update that includes revised styling, interior upgrades and better fuel economy for its available diesel engine. The most notable changes are to the exterior, where there is a larger single-frame grille and U-shaped bands of LED running lights in the headlights. The bumpers are also new, with contrasting lower sections. Inside, the Q7 has a reworked instrument cluster, as well as interior lights in the door linings and a light inlay on the passenger side. Engine choices are unchanged, but Audi’s clean diesel 3.0-liter V6 gets slightly better fuel economy at 26.43 mpg in combined city/highway driving.

2010 Mercedes-Benz S 400 Hybrid

Click to enlarge picture2010 Mercedes-Benz S 400 Hybrid (© Kirk Bell)

2010 Mercedes-Benz S 400 Hybrid

Mercedes-Benz gave the S-Class a face-lift as well as made it more environmentally-conscious for Shanghai. The 2010 S 400 Hybrid is the world’s first production hybrid with a lithium-ion battery and Mercedes’ first-ever hybrid vehicle. Its powertrain features a 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine, a magneto-electric motor and a 7-speed automatic transmission. Combined output is 299 horsepower and 284 lb-ft of torque, and fuel economy should be about 29 mpg. New features for the S-Class include Speed Limit Assist, Attention Assist drowsiness detection and Adaptive Main Beam Assist, which adjusts the headlights for the best illumination without blinding occupants in oncoming vehicles. The 2010 S 400 is due in August. Prices have yet to be announced.

2010 Mercedes-Benz S 65

Click to enlarge picture2010 Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG (© Kirk Bell)

2010 Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG

Mercedes-Benz says its top-of-the-line performance model is more appealing than ever, thanks to some effective fine-tuning. The S 65’s 6.0-liter twin-turbo V12 engine is unchanged at 612 horsepower, but fuel economy is improved by one to three percent. Zero to 60 mph takes only 4.4 seconds. On the outside, the S 65’s grille is reshaped and has chrome louvers, the lower fascia has LED driving lights, the center section of the reshaped rear diffuser is painted body color, and new taillights containing 52 LEDs. Like other members of the S-Class, the S 65’s new COMAND control system has a split-screen feature that allows the driver and passenger to view different information.

Buick Business Concept

Click to enlarge pictureBuick Business Concept (© Kirk Bell)

Buick Business Concept

While GM isn’t pursuing the minivan market in the U.S., it may in China, as evidenced by the Buick Business Concept. Long and tall, the Business has sliding side doors that meet up with the front doors, with no pillar in between. Developed in China in conjunction with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp., GM’s Chinese partner, the Business has three rows of seats for 6-passenger capacity. The second-row seats swivel up to 225 degrees to face a power center console. GM says the Business is designed to accommodate the next generation of GM’s hybrid powertrain, which will include a lithium-ion battery. We doubt the Business will ever come to the U.S. market.

The vehicles at the Shanghai show most likely to reach U.S. shores are high-powered sedans and SUVs — does that surprise you?

2010 Buick Regal 2.0 Turbo

Buick sells more vehicles in China than it does in the U.S. That’s why the brand isn’t on the chopping block as General Motors looks to restructure in the face of the U.S. automaker bailout. That’s also why the Regal is still sold in China, but not here at home. In late 2008, Buick introduced a new Regal based on a global midsize vehicle architecture. In Shanghai, Buick showed a new model with a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. This direct-injected 4-cylinder generates 220 horsepower and can accelerate to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds. GM also offers the Regal with 2.0- and 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engines, and all are mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission.

Kirk Bell has served as the associate publisher for Consumer Guide Automotive and editor of Scale Auto Enthusiast magazine. A Midwest native, Bell brings 18 years of automotive journalism experience to MSN, and currently contributes to JDPower.com and Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com.

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