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New compact SUV by 2018: Even more variety in the trend segment

Christian Schulte
New compact SUV by 2018
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Germany, a nation of adventurers, all of Europe? The unchecked demand, especially for compact SUVs, suggests this. Currently, however, the VW Golf is still Germany's best-selling car, and the compact class is still something like the middle of the automotive society. But how long? In any case, the manufacturers' product plans are peppered with new compact SUV models. The result: the number of compact SUV registrations will increase significantly by 2020, while noticeably fewer customers will choose classic compacts - at least that's what the market observers from IHS Automotive expect. An assessment that comes up with a a uto motor und sport user survey in the online portal Meinungsbildner.net covers. According to this, every fourth compact car driver wants to switch to a compact SUV in the future.

Audi with up to 3 compact SUVs on offer

In order to benefit particularly strongly from this apparently imminent boom in compact SUVs, Audi is reorganizing its SUV range in this class will have up to three models of this type of vehicle in the future instead of one. The successor to the current Audi Q3 grows by a few centimeters to a good 4.40 meters. This creates space for a four-meter-short crossover model underneath that goes by the abbreviation Q1. At the same time, the Q3 maintains the distance to the mid-range SUV Q5 (length: 4.60 meters). In addition, a series version of the SUV interpretation of the TT sports car presented in Beijing is being discussed internally, with which Audi would have three compact sport utility vehicles in its range. In the sales department, however, there is a certain skepticism as to whether enough customers will opt for an Audi TT SUV with its rather limited practical use.

Audi's compact SUV offensive will start in early 2017 with the Q1, which, according to auto motor und sport information, will appear more with the well-known clear lines. It still gets the modified single-frame grill presented this year with the SUV studies from Detroit (January) and Beijing (April) - albeit in a slightly modified form. The Audi rings, for example, traditionally go into the grill on SUV models. They only carry the Audi sports cars on the bonnet. The Audi Q3 should be significantly more beefy and expressivewill. The new Audi chief designer Mark Lichte is enthusiastic about typical Audi style elements such as the exhibited, wide wheel arches of the original Quattro, which he intends to incorporate - reinterpreted - in future models. He already indicated what something like this could look like in this year's Wörthersee study.

New Audi Q3 with plug-in technology

Technically, Audi is rolling out the VW Group's modular transverse matrix (MQB) with the Q1 and the new Q3. Both models are based on this architecture, which is very flexible in length and width, which enables all alternative drives from natural gas to plug-in hybrids. In the next Q3, this will bring about another ten percent reduction in consumption for conventional drives. Plug-in technology will be available for him in the course of the model cycle; this is not planned for the small Q1, as it is unlikely to produce the required quantities in the more price-sensitive competitive environment.

All about the development of the Q1 the discussion about a three-cylinder engine broke out at Audi. 'I can certainly imagine a three-cylinder engine in combination with an electric motor up into the middle class,' says Audi chief developer Ulrich Hackenberg. However: Without e-support, modern, turbocharged four-cylinder engines deliver almost comparable efficiency, but offer a much higher level of smoothness - and that is better suited to a premium brand like Audi, according to corporate circles. So no car with just a three-cylinder? Yes, but probably only the A1.

Mercedes GLA from 2017 on new and lighter platform

Also Mercedes is limited to the use of the three-cylinder developed jointly with Renault for the small car brand Smart. With the GLA, which has been available for a year, the brand with the star currently only has one model in its range in the compact SUV segment. That should change with the model change in 2017. Model change after around four years? You read that right. Mercedes is saying goodbye to the front-wheel drive architecture that was developed jointly with Chrysler at an early stage and will be replacing it with a new, ten percent lighter platform from the end of 2016. 'We will not share this new architecture with Renault,' says an insider. A use at the Nissan premium subsidiary Infiniti is not excluded. The first model on the new basis will be the B-Class.

Why the early change? The previous platform is not suitable for many technical innovations such as driver assistance systems and alternative drives. However, Mercedes wants to bring technology such as the stereo camera including semi-autonomous driving, head-up display or alternative drives such as the plug-in hybrid from the higher classes into the compact class - and that is only possible with a new platform. Derived from it, there will again be a high-rise architecture in which natural gas bottles will also be usedFind space like larger battery packs for electric and plug-in models. The next GLA generation will be available as a plug-in hybrid, for example. In addition, a coupé variant in the style of the M-Class coupé presented in Beijing in 2014 is under discussion. This means that Mercedes will also have two compact SUVs in its range in the future. Another idea: a city SUV with style elements of the robust G-model and a length of around four meters. A board decision is still missing.

Opel brings compact SUV below the Mokka

But there will be a large variety of compact SUVs not only for premium customers. In addition to the well-known Mokka, Opel is launching another compact sport utility vehicle with the appearance of the popular Adam small car. With a length of about 4.20 meters, the crossover in the style of a Renault Captur or Peugeot 2008 is almost ten centimeters shorter than the Mokka and completely dispenses with all-wheel drive.

Short overhangs and a wide track characterize the stocky proportions , large beads in the front doors and black-rimmed wheel arches the design. Inside, the cockpit layout is based on the next Astra, which also takes a significant step forward in terms of workmanship, choice of materials and infotainment. Unlike today's Meriva, which is located in the same segment in terms of dimensions, the new crossover dispenses with previous Opel specialties such as rear doors that open in opposite directions or sliding rear seats.

The entire range of the new engines is available for the drive Choice, of which the 1.6-liter gasoline and diesel direct injection engines are already available in the Astra today. The new one-liter, three-cylinder turbo gasoline engine will soon start in the Adam. A 1.4-liter gasoline engine is placed in between. With its pronounced playfulness in terms of individual paint and upholstery combinations as well as the extensive range of infotainment options, the Opel targets city cowboys that so far only found what they were looking for in Mini.

New Mini Countryman with more space

The BMW subsidiary is due to replace the Mini Countryman at the end of 2016, which - not really surprising - is growing significantly. 'As soon as our customers got a stroller in the Countryman, some asked why there wasn't room for a second one,' reveals a BMW manager. However, this should also be a shortage in the second generation, which is based on the new front-wheel drive architecture and grows from 4.10 to around 4.30 meters.

The trunk volume should climb to 450 liters which the current model only offers when the rear seat is far forward. And the technology? Three- and four-cylinder turbo engines that cover a power range from 102 to around 220 hp. All wheel drive? Sure, as an option, but by no means for all engines. By the way: With the end of production in 2016, the two-door Paceman will move to the Walhalla lucklesslyAutomotive ideas. The Land Rover colleagues also had to learn that apparently only a few had waited for two-door off-road coupés, because 80 percent of their Range Rover Evoque is bought as a four-door. In the second generation (from the end of 2017) there should therefore be mainly variants that offer more or less utility value with a similar design language. The current model will be followed by a 285 hp sports model this year.

New BMW X1 with front-wheel drive

Niche king BMW is also hesitating with a new series that could be added to the next X1: the X2. Although the X6 is running with great success - albeit not necessarily in Germany - and the reactions to the X4 have also been positive so far, it is said from Munich: 'We don't have to assign a model to every digit in the X series.' First of all, the X1 is coming in a new form, which is less about the optics, but more about the technology.

Like the next one and the two-man Active Tourer, the compact SUV is based on the so-called UKL architecture. This means that the BMW comes off the production line as a front-wheel drive - at least with the less powerful engines. These are also three-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, which, however, will not be available from the start of sales. However, the three-cylinder is an integral part of the plug-in hybrid version of the X1, which could go into production at the end of 2017. As with the current model, the motors with at least 140 hp optionally send their power to all four wheels; xDrive is standard equipment from 200 hp. And what about the X2? The chances are good, because the new architecture allows flexible production with the X1, and the market is currently absorbing almost everything that the SUV label can be put on - as long as the models have four doors.

VW therefore wants to give the Tiguan CC a chance, which is derived from the Cross Coupé study. In general, the group will position itself more broadly in the future, bringing the next Tiguan (from 2015) also as a seven-seater. Why? Because the management sees less of the risk that compact SUVs could dispute the buyers of the Golf, but the vans do. But not only with the body variants, buyers get more choice. The VW can be equipped with a head-up display and LED headlights for a surcharge. Also in preparation: a plug-in hybrid drive. But the conventional engines should also be up to 20 percent more economical, because despite the adventurous spirit of car buyers: nobody likes drunkards anymore.

Compact SUV - who invented it? Nissan!

Nissan recognized the potential of the SUV early on. The Japanese decided to take a bold step in 2007: After the unsuccessful compact car, the Qashqai was now exclusively a crossover model in the compact segment vying for customers. The first generationAlthough it didn't look like an off-roader, it won over more and more buyers over the next seven years - until the model change. Now it's the turn of the second generation, slightly grown, with a more individual design. Speaking of which: A class below, Nissan dared to take the same step in 2011 and sent the, well, extraordinary Juke into the race - also with success. 'In fact, with both models, Nissan has shown an excellent sense of customer requirements. Vehicles that, like the Qashqai, gain buyers over their entire life cycle are an exception,' confirms Henner Lehne from IHS Automotive. And why is a conventional compact car coming onto the market again with the Pulsar? A trend reversal? No. Instead, the brand's high level of awareness should also help this model to become successful - after all, the compact segment continues to grow worldwide.

Pro and Contra

Editor-in-chief Jens Katemann: 'More variety means more choice for us - What is the discussion about the sense and nonsense of SUVs? If you don't want one, you don't have to buy one. Just because Audi brings a Q1, Q3 and possibly a TT-SUV onto the market, traditional models don't necessarily fall out of the range. Gone are the days when off-roaders with the drag coefficient of a wall unit unnecessarily swallowed fuel. Attractive design, good Space, easy entry: There's a lot to be said for SUVs. The boom seems only logical to me, even in view of the aging society. '

Chief reporter Jens Dralle: ' More variety? Sure - but why with SUV? - Porsche 911, Land Rover Defender, Mercedes S-Class, min i - they all became legends because they are each particularly good at one. Drive quickly, anywhere, comfortably or in any space. And an SUV? Supposedly can do everything, but nothing right. Especially without all-wheel drive, such cars are among the greatest sillies, because they drive less comfortably and more inefficiently than comparable compact cars. But they cost more for that, great. I still prefer classic compacts, because they can really (almost) everything. '

In our photo show you can expect exciting design retouching of the new compact SUV.


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