Opinion: why the Skoda Karoq has an identity problem
While the small SUV awaits its Ford Fiesta moment (think fine everyman dynamics and a look that refuses to date), there are at last signs of some quirkier, more individual designs by car makers.
They might be polarising, but the likes of the Hyundai Kona, Kia Stonic, which has been revealed today, and the Citroen C3 Aircross all show progress away from making a small SUV simply a bloated, anodyne derivative of a supermini.
Indeed, if anything, SUVs are almost badge-neutral to buyers and the models are seen as brands in their own right; it doesn’t matter who’s made it, as long as it is interesting to look at and nothing obvious to do with the supermini parked next to it in the showroom.
Read our top 10 list of the best small SUVs on sale today
Kia’s European COO Michael Cole agrees: he reckons it’s easier for less established brands to crack SUV segments with interesting products and designs where they’re not competing against nameplates such as Golf and Fiesta, which have dominated established segments for decades.
“If everyone enters a new segment, then no-one has that heritage,” he said. “When you go up against the likes of the Golf and the Fiesta it’s harder to break them. To enter a segment where no-one has the history, it’s easier. We’ve shown we can beat the opposition as a design-driven brand, and back that up with quality products. We’re showing that with our SUVs.”
The newcomers to the segment are at last breathing some life into it with some interesting designs. Now, if someone could just make one that’s genuinely engaging to drive…