2012 SAO PAULO SHOW STARS
A raft of compact crossovers aimed at urbanites are being previewed at the ongoing Brazilian motor show
HB20x from Hyundai has the same approach with Fit Twist by being jacked up from the i20 hatch.
Is there a trend shaping up in Brazil?
It's been quite a busy time for car manufacturers this year with baby SUVs. Months earlier, the global market had seen the unveiling of the Chevrolet Trax, Ford Ecosport and Peugeot 2008.
And at the ongoing Sao Paulo motor show in Brazil, another four crossovers have been shown including the Honda Fit Twist, Hyundai HB20x, Nissan Extrem and Volkswagen Taigun.
Why Brazil? That's because the South American country has poor road conditions, and cars with more ground clearance than usual are useful in coping with such surfaces.
In fact, Ford's first Ecosport was developed particularly for Brazil during the 1990s.
That Vee-dub looks the most proper SUV of all...
It certainly does, probably because it's still a concept with flashy external features. But be in no doubt: the Taigun is previewing a baby SUV with credentials borrowed from the Polo B-segment hatchback.
Also giving a glimpse of VW's future in the Taigun is a 110hp 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol-turbo to lock horns with the new Ecosport, which was the first to feature a similarly downsized motor.
Volkswagen says the Taigun weighs just 985kg and is capable of returning a fuel economy average of 22.2 kpl. Performance isn't that bad either considering its frugality: 0-100kph requires 9.2sec and top speed is rated at 186kph.
Cool. But isn't the Extrem too cool?
Yeah, the Nissan is a little outlandish, just like its moniker. That's plainly because the Extrem is a concept car with no hint of going into production.
Designed at Nissan Design of America with the input of Brazilian tastes, the Extrem is a three-door SUV with a sporty coupe profile (today's Juke is a five-door).
Plus or minus a few centimetres, the Extrem remarkably shares the same dimensions as the Taigun: 3.9m length, 2.5m wheelbase, 1.8m width and 1.6m height. Clearly, both concepts are for the B-segment.
Potential technical credentials for a market-ready version include Nissan's V-platform (as used in the March/Almera Ecocars) and a 1.6-litre four-pot engine featuring turbo and direct-injection technologies _ just like in the Taigun, albeit a bigger engine, one more cylinder and more power of some 190hp.
Looks fancy, not like that twisted Fit...
We reckon you're probably put off by the basic package of the Fit (known as Jazz in Thailand) which is approaching rundown mode.
What Honda merely did was raise the Fit's body (by how much it didn't say), fit underbody guards and roof rail to fake its SUV intentions. And, of course, that contorted badge. That's it.
Just like that Hyundai, right?
Exactly, although the HB20x arguably looks fresher than the Honda, possibly due to the base car being newer and unseen on Thai roads.
Hyundai has applied the same tactics by taking the i20 hatchback and pumping it up with more ride height and exterior accessories relating to its outdoor ambitions.
Despite having recreation in mind, all four SUVs here are aimed more at urbanites needing good driving view and bump-absorbing suspension.
Sounds perfect for Thailand...
Certainly, even though the baby SUV class hasn't been ignited by major automotive players here yet.
Since Brazil and Thailand have much in common _ emerging-market status, not-so-great roads, ethanol-loving fuel policy and high import taxes _ expect these two nations to share more automotive affiliations in the future.
Okay, Honda and Hyundai have clearly said at the Latin American motor show during press day last week that both SUVs are primarily designed for Brazil (the HB initials, for one, standing for Hyundai Brazil).
But if you look at Honda, the Japanese maker freely announced that the all-new 2014 replacements for the Jazz/City will come with E100-capable flex-fuel engines in Brazil.
This means that we here in Thailand can expect nearly all of the mainstream Hondas to be capable of guzzling E85 sometime in the future, following today's Civic and CR-V.
Fit Twist is Honda’s quick-fix solution for a baby SUV by merely being pumped up from the Jazz.
Nissan’s Juke-sized Extrem has coupe styling and a potential 190hp 1.6-litre petrol-turbo motor.
VW’s Polo-based Taigun highlights new 110hp 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol-turbo engine.
About the author
- Writer: Richard Leu
Position: Motoring news Editor