Compact SUV sales are booming. Australian buyers can’t seem to get enough of these high-rise hatchbacks.
But what is it that makes cars like this so appealing?
Is it the tougher look? The promise of adventure? Confidence on the road?
Take the Mitsubishi ASX for example. This was one of the first of the current crop of compact SUV’s to hit Australian roads and is consistently a top seller in the segment.
Compared to a hatch or a wagon, SUV’s in general look chunky and tougher.
Most small SUV’s are soft-roaders, meaning they’re more at home around town.
It’s a bit like glamping… you want to test the water, but not jump straight into camping.
In the same way, the ASX isn’t a Pajero or a Challenger, it’s a bit of a poser – just like me convincing myself I’m roughing it here glamping.
The ASX looks tough, but it’s more luxurious in its design and engineering.
Another major reason that people want an SUV is that dream of clocking off Friday, heading off on a weekend adventure, if and when you want… or not, you don’t have to do anything out of the ordinary, it can just get you around town… and that’s the point.
Though it looks the business, like most of its competitors it’s not really off-road capable, it’s a bit more cushy than that. Though a little bit of unsealed road, a few puddles and a bit of mud is fine.
But the ASX is a great way to get off the beaten track – it has the capability to cover your budding adventurous side.
How is that? What does the ASX have that the majority of other small SUV’s don’t.
You can manually lock it into a full 4WD mode – giving you that confidence when you do wander off the beaten track a little.
Most cars in that segment that have 4wd only have an on demand 4wd system – you have no control over when it kicks in.
But it’s that confidence around town that attracts buyers to this segment.
The high driving position is the flavor of the decade – but it doesn’t feel big and bulky on the road like large SUV’s. It’s as easy to drive as a hatch or sedan.
Small SUV registrations were up 24.4 per cent over 2014 and sales of conventional small cars are dropping.
The now-defunct Hyundai ix35, has been king of this segment, and it’s now been replaced by the Hyundai Tucson while the ASX is the second best-seller.
Newcomers the Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3 are causing a stir though.
But the segment shows no sign of slowing down, there are plenty of buyers to go around.