China’s cheekiest copycat cars

Imitation is more than just flattery in the Chinese car market – it’s big business

Geely GE and Rolls-Royce Phantom

When a car is as game-changing as the Rolls Royce Phantom was when it first stunned onlookers back in 2003, it’s hardly surprising that it should influence the future designs of other luxury car makers as they rush to catch up. In the case of the Geely GE, it’s the proportions that must have struck a chord with the designers more than anything else. Of course, what a car with this much gravitas really needs is a distinctive grille to really set it off – so Geely has employed one that’s a dead ringer for the Phantom’s. But did the company really have to take the Spirit of Ecstasy emblem, too?

The original: Rolls-Royce Phantom

The lookalike: Geely GE

Lifan 330 and MINI

The Lifan 330 isn’t actually a slavish reproduction of a famous European car design, but it does pastiche the second-generation MINI – and other iconic European cars such as the Fiat 500 – in rather too many ways to be seen as an entirely independent design. Unusually, although the headlamps, ‘floating’ roof and rear light positioning recall the MINI on the outside, the similarities are actually more acute inside, right down to the design of the door trims and the way the stereo is housed in a circular pod reminiscent of the MINI ‘central instrument’. The Lifan 330 website even says “Three-spoke sport steering wheel design and mini-style leather are more fashionable and classic”, which is pretty brazen by anyone’s standards.

The original: MINI Hatchback (2006-2014)

The lookalike: Lifan 330

Zotye T600 and Volkswagen Tiguan

There’s little denying that the Zotye T600 looks extremely similar to the Volkswagen Tiguan, right down to its nose styling that closely follows VW’s very latest corporate design language. The similarities are less marked at the rear and dissolve further when you sit inside. However, a Sport model adds another level of intrigue to the interior – there’s a VW-style driver-configurable dashboard instrument display and a rotary gear selector that rises from the centre console in the style of that used by Jaguar and Land Rover. Power is from a 1.5 or 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine – not believed to be related to the Volkswagen engines of the same size.

The original: Volkswagen Tiguan

The lookalike: Zotye T600

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