The increasing popularity of SUVs is clear from a quick look at the new car sales charts. But while such cars are popular with buyers, not everyone approves. A recent report caused plenty of headlines by saying that people should think carefully before buying large SUVs, both because of the space they take up on the road and because of the extra pollution they can cause.
I suspect that, as an Autocar reader, you too might shake your head at the popularity of SUVs. Not necessarily for the reasons stated above but because what you or I want from a car and what typical car buyers want from a car are two completely different things.
Allow me to illustrate my point. Ask me what new car I’d buy with my own money and, within the bounds of what is financially imaginable, I’d probably say an Alpine A110. Tell me to get real and I’d say a Lotus Elise or a Mazda MX-5. Insist it must seat four and remain affordable and I’d say a Mountune-chipped Ford Fiesta ST.
What I would absolutely not be slavering after is a coupé-cum-hatchback-cum-cod-offroad-crossover-quasi-estate blob on wheels. So why in the first month of this year were five of Britain’s 10 best-selling cars, and two of the top three, all crossovers/SUVs? Has there ever been a greater gap between the cars that we think people should be buying and those that they actually do? Perhaps surprisingly, the answer is yes. We will be getting to the whats, whens and whys of that in a minute.
But let’s stay in the present a little longer and look at what’s driving this disconnect between the cars we think people should be buying and those they actually are. The first thing to say is that Autocar hasn’t survived 126 years without knowing who its reader is. And the truth is that you, like us, are slightly strange. You don’t look at cars in the same way as other people. They might see a mode of transport, or an opportunity to make a public statement about themselves; you see something to be driven, savoured and enjoyed.