The SUV has heralded a new automotive world order. And why not, asks Siddharth.
Gas-guzzlers, beasts, monsters and brutes – that’s just some of the ways all of us have described Sports Utility Vehicles in the past. But, today, as the line between SUV and crossover is heavily blurred, they’re also stylish, luxurious, sporty, dynamic, and, dare I say it, even pretty. The SUV has come a long way. After being the secret desire and guilty pleasure for many years, it’s now finally accepted as the credible choice for car buyers around the world. This is also because they’re a lot more efficient now.
It’s not just that they’re more popular than most other segments, but they’ve also gone on to become the flagship models is most brand portfolios. By that I mean that they get the latest in terms of technology, engineering, materials and design. Of course, they’re also seen as the golden goose now – and so many carmakers now have a firmly established SUV range. So, its not just Land Rover, but also Jaguar; not just Toyota, but also Suzuki; not just Nissan, but also Renault that’s taking an off-road route to profitability.
SUVs today are also hybrid (Volvo XC90) and fully-electric (Tesla Model X), and even the ones with conventional IC engines are now more frugal and lower on emissions than ever before. And that’s a great thing frankly. Plus, now practicality has been blended with performance. And I don’t just mean a Lamborghini Urus style performance SUV, even something – lets say more basic – like a Hyundai Creta is now a monocoque chassis, reasonably dynamic in performance, and, essentially, a car shaped like an off-roader.
All of this is, therefore, the reason that I wasn’t surprised when the annual World Car Awards saw 7 out of 10 finalists for 2017 turning out to be SUV or crossovers. The Audi Q2 and Q5, Jaguar F-Pace, Mazda CX-9, Skoda Kodiaq, Toyota C-HR and Volkswagen Tiguan are all well designed and capable cars in their own segments. And, subsequently, the top-three battling the car world’s biggest automotive honour were the Audi Q5, Jaguar F-Pace, and Volkswagen Tiguan – a first for this prestigious global awards programme.
If 2017 hasn’t been historic enough already, it’ll go down as the year when an SUV won the World Car Of The Year award for the very first time. And why not? For some years now we’ve witnessed the rise of the SUV. So, it stands to reason that they’re now firmly planted at the top of this new (high-riding) world order of cars.
So, more power to the SUV – subcompact, compact, midsize and full-size. Here’s hoping they get leaner, meaner, and even more flamboyant.