The SUV market in New Zealand will become even more crowded and competitive over the next couple of years as both luxury and mid-market carmakers introduce first-time models.
The so-called lifestyle vehicles are the hottest items on the sales charts and accounted for just over four out of every 10 passenger cars sold to the end of October this year. That ratio is expected to close up further in 2015/2016 when SUVs from newcomers Bentley (pictured above), Jaguar, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, and Skoda join the line-up.
The choice is already vast – pretty much every carmaker has an SUV/crossover of some description, either small, medium or large, and with two-wheel or four-wheel drive. Pictured here is yet another new variant – a more powerful version of the long-wheelbase Range Rover, slightly camouflaged and headed for the pits at the Nurburgring in Germany.
The numbers tell the story of SUV growth in New Zealand: out of 75,390 passenger car sales in 10 months this year, 31,155 were SUVs. That’s 41%. Go back two years till the end of October 2012 and SUVs accounted for 26,052 out of 76,270 passenger car sales. That’s 34%. For the same period in 2010, SUVs totaled 16,316 out of 61,666 sales. That’s 26%.
How about 2008 numbers? At the end of October that year 73,224 passenger cars were sold, 15,216 of them SUVs. That’s 20%. In 10 months of 2004, 74,387 cars were sold, 12,854 of them SUVs. That’s 17%. So in 10 years, sales of SUVs have gone from 17% to 41% of overall passenger car numbers.
The victims of SUVs have been medium and large cars – SUVs have steamrolled them. In 10 months to the end of October 2004, 32,384 medium and large cars were sold. This year, 9610 were shifted. Another take on that statistic: medium and large cars accounted for 43% of passenger sales over 10 months in 2004; this year they made up 12.7%.
It’s clear – SUVs rule the road. Jeep, for instance, is capping a strong 2014 sales year in NZ by including a tow bar as standard equipment on the diesel Grand Cherokee Limited ($85,990, above) and Overland ($98,990) models. There’s something else towards the front end of the Jeeps, too – a $2000 gift card in the glovebox. “It will help with the non-motoring side of Christmas and the holidays,” says Fiat Chrysler NZ general manager David Smitherman.
But before you rush out and join the sales queue, have a gander at what’s on the way. The choice is about to get harder. There are new variants every which way you look, from off-road pioneers like America’s Jeep and Britain’s Land Rover, to classy offerings from European, Japanese and South Korean competitors. Here’s a sample.
VOLVO: The second-generation XC90 (above) will go on show here in February, during the stopover for the global Volvo yacht race. It is a completely new car from the ground up. Lighter, stronger and safer than before, with a more spacious modern interior, it also gets efficient new engines, a front-wheel-drive model and even a plug-in hybrid.
FORD: The Everest, an SUV (above) designed and engineered in Australia but built at Ford’s new Asia-Pacific manufacturing hub in Thailand, ushers in a new era for Ford in this part of the world. The Everest will go on sale in New Zealand later next year and will eventually replace the Australian-built Territory SUV when Ford Australia shuts down its Melbourne manufacturing plant in 2016.
BENTLEY: The luxury marque says more than 2000 pre-orders have been taken for its first-ever SUV. The as-yet-unamed car (top of page) is expected to mix ontinental GT styling cues and Audi Q7 proportions. It will also be Bentley’s first petrol-electric model, but the 6.0-litre W12 and 4.0 twin-turbo V8 engines should still be offered.
AUDI: The next-generation Q7 (above) has been spied again, this time showing more of Audi’s new design language including an hexagonal grille and new matrix-LED headlamps. There’s talk of a weight reduction of over 350kg, thanks to the use of aluminium in the MLB platform that the Q7 will share with the new Porsche Cayenne and Bentley SUV. Also due in 2016 is the Q1, Audi’s entry-level SUV. An SQ1 and Q2 are likely to follow.
HONDA: The HR-V (above) is back, this time based on the platform of the new Jazz. The HR-V badge was last seen on the compact SUV in 2005. That model was a bit of an ugly duckling, but the new one is considerably sharper. Honda NZ has confirmed that the HR-V is due later next year – “but if we can get it here sooner we will.”
JAGUAR: Its first-ever SUV was displayed as the C-X17 concept (above) at last year’s Frankfurt motor show. The production model is due in 2016, sportier and with a more streamlined design than sister brand Land Rover’s hero, the Range Rover. The C-X17 will adopt Jaguar’s lightweight and scalable aluminium architecture, and it’ll be slightly lower, longer and wider than rivals. There’ll be a raft of new petrol and diesel Ingenium engines.
SKODA: The prototype is known as the A Plus SUV. Skoda has promised that the seven-seater will stick to the brand’s value-for-money philosophy, challenging rivals like the Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorrento. Engine options will be purely four-cylinder turbos in order to maximise fuel efficiencyand help Skoda shift 1.5 million models globally by 2018.
ALFA ROMEO: The brand’s rebirth will continue with an all-new SUV in 2016. It has been designed to boost numbers and will get a range of new petrol and diesel engines, as well as a turbocharged V6.
MAZDA CX-3: It is based on the Mazda2 hatchback (on sale in NZ next month) and aimed at models like the Ford EcoSport. It will be chockablock with SkyActiv technology. The photo above shows how the finished product might look.
MERCEDES-BENZ GLE COUPE: It’s a swoopy two-door (above) to rival the BMW X6 and based on the upcoming five-door GLE, the replacement for the ML-Class. It will be longer, wider and lower than the GLE and sportier to drive. An AMG model is expected.
MASERATI LEVANTE: Its first SUV (above) is expected to be the brand’s big seller. First seen as the Kubang concept, the distinctive Levante will come with a choice of engines, including a V6 diesel, two twin-turbo V6 petrols and a flagship V8.