In the past decade, the SUV has gone from surviving on the fringes to becoming the only kind of vehicle keeping the mainstream afloat.
Sure, the visionaries are building electric cars, and the futurists are working on autonomous pods, but the only types of vehicles that are actually selling in large numbers are SUVs. What was once seen as a vehicle suited mainly for rock crawling has become the favourite for the daily commute.
You could argue that the commute in our country is genuinely an obstacle course, given the state of our roads – or lack thereof – but that doesn’t account for the global sales tsunami heralded by the SUV, so-much-so that even the likes of Porsche, Aston Martin, Bentley, Rolls Royce, Lamborghini and Ferrari have all either already added them to their line-ups, or are in the process of doing so. Undoubtedly, their founders would each be turning in their graves, but the fact is that SUVs are what drive sales charts and shareholder value these days. This is what customers demand; what people want!
In fairness, technology has advanced so much in the past decade that not only have SUVs become stupendously refined, incredibly comfortable and supremely practical, but modern monocoque SUVs now have driving dynamics that would shame supercars from a decade ago.
But then you get into a small car, or an actual sports car – especially if you’ve just gotten out of a new-age Coupé SUV – and you immediately realise that less really is more. It appears that Colin Chapman, the founder of Lotus, knew a thing or two about vehicle engineering when he said, ‘simplify, then add lightness.’
Sure, modern SUVs can defy the laws of physics. But the question we need to ask ourselves is whether or not they really need to… The turn of the 19th century was known as the ‘Age of Excess,’ but if you look at the cars that we’re driving these days, it would seem that this phrase is equally apt today as well.