2012 PARIS SHOW STARS
Baby crossovers _ small SUVs aimed at urban motorists _ is now the new trend in Europe, as revealed by car manufacturers at the ongoing Paris Motor Show.
Crosslane Coupe points to a possible Audi Q2.
While archrivals Chevrolet and Ford are revealing showroom-ready versions of the Trax and Ecosport, Peugeot is previewing a near-production model of next year's 2008.
With Peugeot being tied up with Citroen and Mitsubishi, the latter two are expected to join the small SUV fray in the future by using technical credentials from B-segment/subcompact cars.
Suzuki is taking the wraps off the S-Cross concept SUV, mooted as a stylish replacement for today's SX4 positioned below the Vitara.
At a separate press conference, Honda's global boss has confirmed plans of reviving a small SUV in 2014. The last one made was the HR-V in 2006 slotting below the CR-V.
Toyota has been among the first to this fashionable segment, although the Urban Cruiser is now six years old and is in dire need for a major redesign.
Mazda is rumoured to be looking at a potential player, widely speculated to be called CX-3 complementing the bigger CX-5 in global showrooms.
According to market research, appealing points in small SUVs include funky looks, commanding driving position and high-riding body to brave poor road conditions.
However, most manufacturers approached by Life say chances of seeing them being assembled at Thai assembly lines remain slim due to tight margins (if they were to be sold at under one million baht). The business case for B-segment saloon and hatchback must be solid first before diversifying into other body styles, putting Honda and Toyota on the forefront of opening the small SUV game in the country.
However, Ford is reportedly set to make the Fiesta-based Ecosport at its new plant in Rayong, most likely in early 2014, after the successful launch of the four- and five-door Fiesta.
The small SUV trend is not only confined to mass-market brands. Audi is hoping to become the first luxury nameplate to sell such a vehicle, which is being previewed by the Crosslane Coupe concept at France's biennial car show.
Set to appear below today's Q3, Audi's new entry-level SUV could be called Q1 in five-door form and Q2 in three-door variant.
BMW has nothing smaller than the X1, which rivals the Q3 in size. However, the Mini Countryman and Paceman (being premiered in Paris, as well) will serve as answers to the Q1 and Q2.
The Crosslane Coupe is also highlighting the brand's new 1.5-litre three-cylinder diesel. BMW, on the other hand, is showing a similarly sized petrol version in the Concept Active Tourer.
Smart, Mercedes-Benz's small car division, hopes to take the small SUV to the next level with a two-seat, all-electric version based on the Forstar's study vehicle.
S-Cross previews the Suzuki SX4 replacement.
Smart Forstar concept is a radical two-seat SUV.
Peugeot 2008 is confirmed to launch next year.
About the author
- Writer: Richard Leu
Position: Motoring news Editor