SUVs, is it over or not?

At the height of a trend, all observers take out the crystal ball to try to flush out the one that will take over. This is also how it happens in the automobile, where some predict the end of the SUV soon while others, including manufacturers, do not see demand weakening anytime soon. To avoid guessing too much, it is better to stick to the facts. On the one hand, the figures: SUVs represent, all body types and all sizes combined, more than 50% of car sales in Europe. But on the other hand, the latest French novelties reflect the desire to explore other avenues. More than the Arkana, which is none other than the translation among generalist manufacturers of a BMW X6 whose concept dates back to 2008, it is the recent Peugeot 408 and Citroën C5 X that are raising awareness.

Sedans that carry other values

The new Citroën C5 X. © Citroën

By their length – 4.69 m for the Peugeot and 4.81 m for the Citroën – these two sedans are easily classified as road cars. But their ground clearance of almost 20 cm, their large 720 mm diameter wheels and above all, all the protections that run along their bodies, also classify them in the world of SUVs. Especially since it is tailgates that give access to their trunk and not traditional trunks. Some even see in the rounded stern of the C5 X the tunes of station wagons.

Difficult, therefore, to “tidy up” these French novelties which especially like to scramble the cards in order to appeal to those who love SUVs but who wish to retain the road performance of a saloon and gain in efficiency – CO2 emissions, fuel consumption, etc. – thanks to lower body heights. If Peugeot ensures to be the first to occupy this empty seat between sedan and SUV, it is however necessary to recognize in Citroën the premiere of audacity. Because the C4, from 2020, played on both counts, before the C5 X followed suit in 2021 and the C4 X came to close the demonstration. While the C5 X is just beginning its career and is not helped by its manufacture in China, and the 408 and C4 X are not even in the concessionsno one knows if these hybrid bodies will find the expected success.

But SUVs that remain essential

Among the manufacturers, in any case, it is more a question of seeking out new customers than of converting the current ones. Because if these funny bodies are currently in the news, the product plans of our “in-house” manufacturers remind us that the SUV is not about to go away. However original its shape may be, the new 408 will not eclipse the future 3008 expected in 2023 at Peugeot. Which, to remain the leader, will in particular call on a brand new platform and electric variants promising more than 500 km of autonomy.

At Renault, more than an Arkana which is in fact only a rebadged Korean Samsung, the future Captur Coupé which will be revealed in 2023 also confirms that the SUV remains a priority. Just as the next Scénic, unveiled at 90% by the eponymous concept, will leave its minivan clothes to join the predominant genre. What to say, finally, of a contemporary electric 4L whose first sketches also suggest a look of a little adventurer. Somewhat eclipsed lately by French novelties halfway between the universes, the SUV genre has not said its last word.

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