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Small off-roaders of the future: mini SUVs for the urban jungle

Christian Schulte
Small off-roaders of the future
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Less is more - at least that applies to the development of off-roaders. After the large SUVs were long left behind in the sales statistics of VW Tiguan and Co. (around 4.50 meters long), even shorter candidates are now in the starting blocks. The model is S koda Yeti (4.22 meters) and Nissan Juke (4.14 meters).

The Skoda Yeti fishes with its high variability and the generous amount of space in the pond of the big, the Nissan Juke makes a boldly styled small car with an off-road look. Both are so well received by customers that other manufacturers are now also wanting a piece of the pie.

Renault builds mini-SUVs, Fiat relies on all-wheel drive Panda

This includes Nissan's alliance partner Renault, the will produce a mini SUV based on the Juke from 2013. The roughly 4.20 meter long crossover will roll off the assembly line at the Spanish plant in Valladolid, where ample capacity is free due to the moderate sales figures of the hapless mode. The name of the vehicle, which will initially only be built as a four-door model, has not yet been determined, but like the study presented at the Geneva Motor Show in March, which is also optically based on it, it will probably be called Capture.

Until the market launch, Renault will also have new downsized petrol engines in its range. The engine range starts with a turbocharged 0.9-liter three-cylinder with around 100 hp. The 1.2-liter four-cylinder turbo with 115 hp is also new. The new RX2 mechanical limited-slip differential is used as a traction aid on slippery surfaces.

While the Capture mimes the city cowboy, Fiat relies on its Kraxler Panda 4x4, which is popular in the Alps and follows just under a year after the front-wheel drive vehicle was launched in autumn 2012. A new differential and a 6.5 kilogram lighter rear axle should make it more economical. In addition to the well-known 1.3 multijet diesel, the two-cylinder turbo gasoline engine is also available.

Small off-roaders from Peugeot and Opel

Peugeot is expanding its SUV range from 2013 with a crossover based on the new 208, which will only be available with front-wheel drive. The approximately 3.80 meter short 2008 should only be moderateReplace the successful Kombi 207 SW. Basically it will be available with the same engines as the 208 - with the exception of inexpensive basic engines.

A strategy that Opel is also planning for the 'Small SUV'. The as yet unnamed off-road off-road version of the Opel Corsa will only be launched on the market in autumn 2012 with the more powerful engines due to its higher weight. It starts with charged petrol engines from around 100 hp, while the diesel range starts with the 1.7 CDTi (110/130 hp). Nevertheless, the approximately 4.30 meter long off-roader should not be more expensive than the Skoda Yeti be: Prices will start at around 18,000 euros - with front-wheel drive. Optionally, the Opel can also be ordered as a four-wheel drive with Haldex clutch. The trunk volume will be around 350 liters.

Little brothers planned for Audi Q3 and Mercedes GLK

With over 400 liters, the Skoda Yeti has more to offer. This will not change much with the facelift at the end of 2013. On the contrary: the compact SUV grows by almost ten centimeters to 4.30 meters. It also gets the new brand face and, for the first time, driver assistance systems that are already available for Audi and VW models. These include an emergency braking system as well as lane keeping, lane change and high beam assistants.

While Volkswagen still wants to compete in the small car segment without a real SUV with all-wheel drive - it stays with the Cross Polo with front-wheel drive and bad-road suspension - Audi is thinking about a little brother for the Q3. The technical basis for this comes from the A1 Quattro, which was initially offered in a sporty small series in 2012 and later also as the S1. 'As an alternative to a Q1, there could also be a cross version with all-wheel drive, which would then be called the A1 Allroad,' says Audi. A board decision is still pending.

Mercedes is orienting itself towards its small SUV The Mercedes GLC is based on the new A-Class and will be available at dealers at the end of 2013. The base price should be less than 30,000 euros. The all-wheel drive with Haldex The clutch will already be used in the AMG version of the A-Class. Regardless of whether it is premium or inexpensive: with this flood of mini-SUV models, less will definitely be more.

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