Tuesday 28 March 2017

'Every second car on the road looks to be a SUV/Crossover these days'

Nissan Qashqai is one of the best selling cars of 2017
Nissan Qashqai is one of the best selling cars of 2017
The Audi Q7 crossover.
The Lexus NX.
The Mazda CX-3.
The Jeep Renegade.
The Volvo XC90.

EVERY second car on the road looks to be a SUV/Crossover these days.

Sales are up and all the people I've spoken to here and across Europe expect more of the same for years. Around the world, one car in every five being sold is a crossover.

Latest SIMI figures show that Compact Crossovers/SUVs are up 27.63pc to the end of May. That's on the back of similar leaps for the past couple of years.

The recession nearly wiped out the large SUVs but they're coming back with a bang too: up a whopping 58.05pc in the first five months of the year.

Virtually every manufacturer has a crossover or quasi-crossover of some kind or other. And they're all going to make more varieties.

I've driven most of them and they all have one thing in common: you sit high, have great visibility and you feel you are driving something different.

Indeed there's a school of thought out there that the SUV craze will wipe out our ordinary family saloons and hatchbacks.

That isn't necessarily the case as Toyota pointed out to us last week: large-family/fleet cars are back selling much stronger.

There's no doubt, however, that compact crossovers are taking sales across the board but, importantly, they have also created a buying momentum all of their own.

Some are already bywords and have been for some time, barely needing the manufacturer's name to identify them. Who needs to be told the Qashqai is a Nissan? It's a Qashqai - that's enough for most buyers.

Remember their name

The same goes for the Suzuki Vitara (even if this is a much different animal to the old one) or the Hyundai Santa Fe or Toyota's RAV4 or BMW's X5. The Honda CR-V? KIA Sportage? Mazda CX-5? Maybe not quite yet, but they're getting there.

Others such as Audi's Q3, Q5 and new Q7 are increasingly called by the lettering not the manufacturer.

But there are loads of new ones aiming to emulate them, especially in the €20,000-€30,000+ price bracket of the small-to-compact SUV sector.

These include the likes of the Citroen Cactus, Ford Kuga, Fiat 500X, Hyundai ix35, Honda HR-V, Kia Soul, Jeep Renegade, Mazda CX-3, Mitsubishi ASX, Nissan Juke, Opel Mokka, Peugeot 2008/3008, Renault Captur, SangYong Tivoli, Skoda Yeti, Volkswagen Tiguan. And more to come such as Renault's Kadjar, SEAT's new SUV etc.

And when you see Lexus getting onto the mid-size upmarket Crossover trail with its NX, you just know we're going to be driving all sorts of shapes for a long time.

That's what these motors do: they give that bit of personality. A strange word for an amalgamation of steel, plastic, compounds and rubber but that is the big attraction.

Further upstream the genre is being taken to new levels especially with the likes of the Q7 (see, no Audi?) and the excellent Range Rover Sport. And Volvo's XC90 - an example of just how to deck and lay out a cabin.

Mercedes are coming back with an imminent GLC, Maserati will have their Levante SUV. Lamborghini will have their Ursus (okay it's 2018) and Jaguar their Pace (next year). The list goes on and on.

And let's not forget the Dacia Duster which, despite many people knocking it for being a poor man's Renault, is regarded by as many others as being probably the best value on the market for well under €20,000.

Cheap, expensive, small or large the future is increasingly going to be SUV/Crossover. It's just the most fashionable thing ordinary people can be seen in these days.

Irish Independent

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