Ur­bane war­riors

What could bet­ter than a com­pact SUV? An even more com­pac

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Cover Story -

THE next big thing in SUVs . . . well, isn’t that big.

As SUV sales grow, the cars them­selves are shrink­ing, or at least those in the new­est wave.

Mini SUVs built on city car

Suzuki SX4

(from $18,990)

This one started it all. The

OpelMokka

(from $24,900 est)

The Mokka will launch lo­cally in the third quar­ter with a 1.4-litre turbo engine paired with six-speed man­ual or sixspeed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

Holden Trax

(from $22,900 est)

Ford EcoSport

(from $22,990 est)

Built in In­dia us­ing the Fi­esta plat­form, the EcoSport gets here in the last quar­ter, de­but­ing the 1.0-litre EcoBoost three-cylin­der turbo engine. Sounds weedy but Cars­guide drove it last year in the big­ger Fo­cus and praised its per­for­mance. Ford Aus­tralia’s Brad Brownell talks up the EcoSport’s ‘‘ pre­mium seat­ing and func­tion­al­ity, car-like ride and han­dling’’.

‘‘ Pre­vi­ous SUVs were trucks but (with) th­ese things you feel like you are driv­ing a car,’’ Brownell says.

It is what a lot of cus­tomers are look­ing for.’’

Nis­san Juke

(from $24,900 est)

You don’t see so many SUVs in Europe, so this sticks out— in a good way. Nis­san’s ex­cited’’ about adding the Juke to its lo­cal list to­wards the end of this year but there’s no con­firmed engine line-up. The new Pul­sar SSS pow­er­plant, a 1.6-litre turbo petrol, is a strong chance. plat­forms still pro­vide the al­limpor­tant el­e­vated driv­ing po­si­tion but within a tighter, eas­ier-park­ing pack­age.

They’re cheap to de­velop and prof­itable to sell (more so be­cause most go with­out the ex­tra me­chan­i­cals needed for all-wheel drive) and you’ll see a lot more of them soon.

Gen­er­ally they’ll be priced up to— and not much be­yond —$25,000. Ja­panese maker has built this cross­over since 2007.

We’ll have the new one here by the end of this year,’’ Suzuki’s An­drew El­lis says.

Sixty per cent of sales are FWD, though the diesel ver­sion of the new SX4 is set to be only all-wheel-drive. But that’s go­ing to be far from com­mon­place in this new SUV sub-seg­ment, as the bulk of the mod­els poised to roll on to our docks be­tween now and the end of the year won’t have driven rear axles. It will be avail­able with fron­twheel drive and Opel’s adap­tive all-wheel-drive tech­nol­ogy. Its safety kit in­cludes adap­tive for­ward light­ing sys­tem, hill start as­sist and hill de­scent con­trol, front cam­era with for­ward col­li­sion alert and lane de­par­ture warn­ing. A re­vers­ing cam­era is also stan­dard. Holden’s had a few cracks at the mini-SUV thing. Its last one was the Suzuk­isourced Cruze (which is no re­la­tion what­so­ever to the cur­rent car). This is its ver­sion of the global Trax, a twin un­der the skin of Opel’s Mokka. Built in South Korea on the same plat­form as the lit­tle Ba­rina, it ar­rives in the third quar­ter to slot in

be­low the Mokka.

STU­ART MARTIN

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