The BIAC BJ80 might look similar to the famous Gelendvagen but the similarities are only skin deep.
The Mercedes-Benz G-Class has become a pop icon for the rich and famous: the list of celebrities who drive G-Class Mercs includes Hollywood superstars Kevin Hart, Sylvester Stallone, and Floyd Mayweather, but before the iconic box on wheels became a celebrity plaything, it was and is renowned for being an extremely capable offroader, and besides the Unimog, is one of Mercedes-Benz' longest produced vehicles, spanning 40 years.
Chinese auto manufacturer BAIC has taken note of the successful career of the G-Class, and instead of paying a design studio to create something unique for their own SUV offering, they simply photoshopped a standard G-Class with minor detail changes and viola, the BJ80 was born. You know what they say; imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
But it gets better: BAIC has decided to pay tribute to the 70th birthday of the People's Republic of China, a momentous occasion celebrated by over 1.3 billion by offering a special edition of the Chinese G-Class rip-off cleverly named the BJ80 70th Anniversary Edition. What makes the birthday special stand out from its ordinary counterparts? The most notable change is the paint color; a bright red that will instill feelings of patriotism in even the most doubtful of Chinese citizens. The roof, wheel arches, grille, mirror housings, and bumpers get a glossy black treatment, and a splattering of decals and badges lets the scooter wielding common folk know that the BAIC was built with equality and solidarity in mind. Inside, the BJ80 sports a rudimentary infotainment system and a slew of 70th-anniversary decals.
Things get even stranger once you pop open the hood: the 2.3-liter four-cylinder, producing 250 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, can trace its roots back to Saab, and a Cummins turbo diesel is also on offer. The turbo-gasoline engine gets mated to a six-speed auto, while the diesel makes do with a 5-speed. Both configurations will only be available in AWD guise.
Mercedes has turned down the opportunity to take legal action against BAIC for copying there beloved G-Class. Why do you ask? Because they own a 12% stake in the Chinese auto manufacturer and shares a joint venture called Beijing-Benz. Once more, reality proves to be stranger than fiction.