ON THE ROAD – IAN LYNAS QUESTIONS “WHY THE SUV?”
During the Festive period, I often reflect on many things including motoring, looking back, at the present and towards the future. Perhaps because I had the new Mazda CX-60 on test for a longer period than normal ( two weeks), I asked myself the question, “why the SUV?” Throughout the history of motoring there have been all sorts of vehicles and in particular looking at passenger vehicles, some have had a short stay in fashion while indeed some may have disappeared off the scene. When the first SUVs came to my attention, my immediate question was how long will they be flavour of the day, month or year. Well, as we are all aware, the SUV has been a resounding success and sales continue to blossom at the cost of saloons, hatchbacks etc.
I often speak at length to people regarding their motoring tastes and I find this very important when I come to report on a vehicle, I learn why people make such a purchase and it is no great surprise to learn that there are many. With so many SUVs in focus I have discovered that woman do in the main prefer an SUV to any other type of vehicle. They feel that the added height brings with it added security and I must admit, I’m inclined to agree. The market is bursting at the seams with SUVs, with one to suit every budget, need etc. Right from the bargain basement Dacia Duster to super SUVs such as the mighty Lamborghini Urus. It’s worth noting that the super league of car manufacturers have had to turn to the SUV, the likes of Bentley for example, and for them, sales have rocketed with the introduction of the Bentayga and could the eagerly awaited Ferrari Purosangue be their answer to the SUV?
So, what was the first SUV? The compact-sized 1984 Jeep Cherokee (XJ) is often credited as the first SUV in the modern understanding of the term. The use of unibody construction was unique at the time for a four-wheel drive and also reduced the weight of the new Cherokee. This was a far cry from the modern SUV and as I enjoyed the new Mazda CX-60, it is the perfect example of an extremely well appointed SUV. I will go as far as to state that Mazda has now a vehicle that can offer a challenge to the best that Audi, BMW and Mercedes can offer. My test example was as PHEV, powered by a combination of a conventional petrol engine and a battery and on pure EV power I was able to travel up to 64km (40 miles). This certainly would satisfy urban drivers and of course for those long drives, no need to stress over finding a charge point.
Where does the SUV go from here? I very much feel onwards and upwards; it has proven to be a great all rounder, a lifestyle vehicle, those equipped with four wheel drive the ability to tackle tough terrain have found a place in industry and military use. Hydrogen power must be on the horizon for the SUV, although that will depend on a good infrastructure. I have already driven a hydrogen powered SUV while on a press trip to South Korea visiting Kia and Hyundai facilities and I was impressed. Thankfully, the SUV as we go forward will not always have its own way; there is still room for a quick hatchback or a smart coupe. So thankful that we have such choice in our world of motoring and if I had the choice of a SUV for the next year- the Mazda CX-6- gets my vote.
Happy and safe motoring in 2023.