30 June 2013

Why crossovers make sense

Luke McCormack explains the booming new market for this new niche of car...

CROSSOVER vehicles are very popular in the UK. A lot of us are liking our hatchback-cum-SUV crossovers.

One of the best known is the Nissan Qashqai, which is in fact one of Britain's best selling cars. There is such demand for them that Nissan are struggling with production to keep up with demand. Thus, more jobs created in their Washington plant in the North East. Which is great news for Britain's weak economy.

Despite their popularity, there are plenty out there who despise these crossovers. Those that do will usually render the idea of making a hatchback-cross-SUV 'pointless'. I can see where the nay-sayers are coming from with it being a wannabe 4x4.

They look like cars that can go off-road. With the chunky styling, the jacked-up suspension, the plastic mouldings on the wheel arches and the lower sections of the car.  Even if they were available with four-wheel-drive, the Nissan Qashqai and the Ford Kuga are. But we all know they're not built to go through fields and climb up mountains. Much in the same way that a Nerf gun wasn't designed to kill people.

In defence of those who buy crossovers have actually bought these on cars. They do make a lot of sense. They carry the virtues of a 4x4 with the commanding driving position, the rugged looks and to some, maybe the lifestyle image they carry. Practical, roomy, comfortable and versatile cars for family motoring.

The jacked up suspension on crossovers has its advantages. For older people, getting into a car can be a tricky - especially if they have a bad back. So Granny won't have to bend down to get inside the vehicle. The same can be applied for families with young children, strapping their offsprings into the car.

The elevated driving position is what many love on 4x4s, they give a great view of the road ahead. Prior to practicality, the raised ride height aids comfort on the move, crossovers are also better at dealing with potholes and speed bumps than more conventional cars. Britain's roads are riddled with them.

Some reviews will say that they also 'ride and handle' like a hatchback. So their manners on-road should be good. Like hatchbacks, crossovers are affordable to buy and run. They look and feel like a 4x4 but without costing the earth. They're affordable to buy and relatively inexpensive to run - like a hatchback.

Another reason is that crossovers are popular, is that they are cars for those who may need a bit more space than a hatchback. For those who would rather be walking than be seen in a frumpy MPV. We've all heard of the mini MPVs like Renault Scenics and Vauxhall Zafiras threatening to kill off the hatchback, but I think crossovers are also doing their bit too.

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