Drove the new VW Tiguan the other day; it’s VW’s new compact four-wheel drive, whose relatively small size and reduced emphasis on off-roading make it a pretty convincing steer. Made me realise, though, that these small SUVs are morphing into the very vehicles that many people were trying to avoid buying in the first place – namely estate cars and MPVs.

The difference between these breeds is becoming ever finer, but their makers are ever more anxious to avoid them entering the leper-class of budget estate (too photocopier salesman) or MPV (for whose owners sex is a box that you tick on a form).

Now that 4x4s are themselves turning unacceptable in some quarters, they’re being proportioned and dressed less aggressively, which is why we have the meek Honda CR-V and this Tiguan, which looks more like a tall, subtly muscled estate car than bull-barred beast for reconnoitring the Serengeti.

Let’s hope sports cars don’t have to pretend that they’re something else; years back, General Motors called its Pontiac Fiero, a mid-engined sportster and nothing else, a two-seat commuter car, because it was too politically risky to say otherwise.

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