If you live in the city or the suburbs, there’s a good chance you would have seen one zipping past already. They’re getting more and more popular, so if you haven’t peeped one yet you soon will. What are they? They’re city-sized or “baby” SUVs, and they’re fast becoming one of the most sought-after car makes in Australia.
“Baby” SUVs are a cross between a compact hatch and an SUV, built for inner-urban and suburban conditions. They typically stand higher on the road than a usual hatchback or sub-compact, making them roomier and larger than your average Nissan Micra or Toyota Echo.
What was once a nervous market for these cars has once seen a trickle turn into a flood. In 2014, small SUVs were the fastest growing segment in the Australian car market. It soared up to 16% on last year, four times as much as medium-sized SUVs. (4.8%.) Drivers are less interested in small cars as a result, experiencing a 3.9% drop in sales. So what’s changed?
Less than ten years ago, if you wanted in on the trend you had to buy either the Subaru XV or Nissan Dualis (now rebadged the “Qashqai”). Now there are over 20 on the market from some of the world’s leading car marques. The Fiat Panda, Holden Trax and Nissan Juke are available for sale, joining the Honda HR-V, Fiat 500X, Renault Captur, Citroen C4 Cactus, Mitsubishi ASX (Australia’s top seller) and the Jeep Renegade as part of the baby SUV boom. So why do people like them?
Baby SUVs are usually equipped with four doors and ample interiors. There’s no cramming oneself into the back of a two door in a baby SUV, despite the diminutive name!
Baby SUVs pack engines that can tackle the beaten path just as well as the school-to-work run. For example, the new Mazda CX-3 packs a 1.5L four-cylinder SkyActive diesel engine with six-speed transmission laying on a rugged 270nM of torque. What is also attractive to city buyers is the fuel economy. The diesel CX-3 only uses 5.1L/100km combined in the All-Wheel Drive version.
Couple that to many baby SUVs coming equipped with mod-cons such as satellite navigation, multimedia packages and safety features such as reverse parking cameras and sensors. It’s become a natural choice for small and growing families.
For people who need a bit more “oomph” and room without the exterior bulk, the Baby SUV has proved a sure-fire winner compared to large SUVs. With so many advantages, will you get on board the “baby” SUV boom?