News Analysis: Attack of the Sporty SUVs


Seven years ago, when BMW unveiled the X6, many mocked and laughed at the concept, deriding it as insanity. One successful generation and a quarter of a million units sold later, it is the Germans who are having the last laugh, with the X6 having proved its popularity enough to warrant an all-new second generation version.

READ MORE: CarBuyer drives the new BMW X6 xDrive50i in Singapore and X6 M50d in South Carolina, USA

Not only that, it sparked off a whole new trend in the industry, the advent of the sporty-looking SUV. The first-gen X6 spent most of its existence in a class of its own, but the new one will now have to face a gamut of competitors in this fiercely-contested arena. Indeed, Mercedes-Benz themselves have revealed their own X6 clone in the form of the GLE just a few weeks back, and now it seems like other rivals are coming to play.

READ MORE: Meet the Mercedes GLE Coupe

Jaguar is the latest to throw its hat into the ring, with the announcement of their very own sports SUV model, the first ever for the brand. The car has not been officially unveiled as yet actually, but it will be based upon the CX-17 concept that Jaguar showed off last year. Its name though has been confirmed: it will be dubbed the F-Pace.

The name provides a strong indicator as to where Jaguar will position its new SUV, with an obvious bias towards performance. The connotations with the F-Type will see to that, and Pace denotes an emphasis on speed, as well as evoking memories of a famous old Jaguar slogan, ‘Grace, Pace, Space’.

Jaguar will have the benefit of working with its Land Rover counterparts on the SUV project, but it will also ensure that the F-Pace will have its own character to make it stand out significantly from the the LR line-up, and will be well capable to take on the likes of the Porsche Macan and BMW X4. Indeed, most of the drivertrain options will be Jaguar’s own, and most likely to be shared with the XE compact executive. Don’t rule out uber-high performance variants as well, possibly powered by the epic 5.0-litre V8 seen in the vicious F-Type.

On the other end of the scale, Volkswagen too are planning to enter the sports SUV game, if their latest concept is anything to go by. Their Cross Coupe GTE Concept was unveiled at Detroit, and looks to spearhead an SUV offensive by the Wolfsburg carmaker, who up until now has only two such models in its line-up, in the form of the Tiguan and Touareg.

The Cross Coupe GTE is based upon the CrossBlue Concept that was first seen at last year’s Detroit show, and again the choice of name reflects the car’s sporting intentions. At the same time, it boasts some pretty rugged and aggressive styling cues, perhaps offering an indication that the Cross Coupe might not be just an SUV that’s purely all show with limited off-roading capability.

Interestingly, under the skin lies a plug-in hybrid powertrain, taken from the Golf GTE, and likely to be a system that will be extensively used in Volkswagen models in the near future. The car rides on the now ubiquitous MQB modular platform that has seen use in a variety of Volkswagen models, and the versatility means that it can accommodate a variety of drivetrain options if required. It is actually bigger in size and dimensions than the Touareg, and while the show car at Detroit was a five-seater, a seven-seat version remains a distinct possibility with the Cross Coupe. Production is all but confirmed for the Cross Coupe despite its official concept status, and we can expect to see it hit the market sometime next year.

READ MORE: Everybody’s Crossing Over

about the author