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As much as everyone tries to ignore it, Chinese automakers are on the rise. Some have acquired established European car companies, while others recruit the services of acclaimed industry personnel to be more market competitive. Former truck manufacturer Changan however, have chosen its own route and developed its own models without outside help. A recipe for disaster? Not at all.

They’ve done really well in recent years, coming up with excellent models for its home market such as the Eado mid-size sedan and upmarket luxury saloon Raeton. This new XT Hatch, caught undisguised by China Car Times, may be Changan’s most exciting offering yet.

It’s based on the well-received Eado sedan but gets its own set of clothes. A stylish one at that too, with plenty of European-influence to be seen. The front is all edgy and aggressive, while the rear is well sculpted with fine design features such as the continuity of the side window line into the rear glasshouse.

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The rear corners are substantially tapered in to create sport hatch-like rear haunches, and black-painted diffuser-like element breaks up the visual mass at the back. The interior is shared with the Eado sedan and is perhaps the hatchback’s weakest link. It’s a little derivative here and there but as a whole it’s an interesting design inside and out with lots to like.

Rumours are there’s a turbocharged 1.5 litre mill under the hood with up to 150 horses to play with. Coupled with a five-speed manual gearbox to run the front wheels, the XT Hatch can prove to be a real hoot to drive. A six-speed automatic transmission will be optional, but you don’t want that.

Chinese automakers may not receive the accolades they may well deserve, but there’s no denying that they are on a steep uptrend to break the social stigma. Changan’s lukewarm hatch, set for a Shanghai Auto Show unveiling, sits right at the head of the fast rising Eastern tide.