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Paris crossovers: a spotter’s guide
Like floodwaters down a storm drain, the flow of new small crossovers continues unabated. At the Paris show they were everywhere you went, either in production or concept form.
It’s common to refer to them as ‘Juke rivals’, because the Juke was the first of the breed. But actually they’re mostly bigger, roomier and more family-oriented than the little Nissan.
Fiat’s 500X bears little mechanical relationship to the 500 minicar whose name and branding it borrows. It’s bigger: it uses the same platform parts as the Jeep Renegade we recently drove. It comes as 2WD or 4WD.
For sure it’s better looking than the 500L people carrier, but it’ll be interesting to see whether people queue up to buy a crossover that’s so cuddly. Don’t crossover buyers want something tough-looking? The 500X’s styling struck me as a bejewelled and magnified Nissan Micra.
In contrast the design of the Honda HR-V is all slashes and origami. It brings back a name from the 1990s, and has been on sale in Japan - called, strangely, the Vezel - for a few months now. But we don’t get it in the UK until summer 2015, with 1.6 diesel and 1.5 petrol power.
Honda promises that because it’s basically a Jazz underneath, the cabin has lots of space and magic folding seats. But who knows? The car was locked because they didn’t want show visitors seeing the Jap-spec cabin of the car on show. Honda makes no mention of off-roading, and the HR-V is 2WD-only.
Suzuki also brought back a name from the past: Vitara. But this one is different, a far more road-biased thing than the rock-climbers of yore. Still, they have kept some boxy styling memes. You can get all cute with a set of two-tone paint scheme options.
The Vitara sits in Suzuki’s range a little under the SX-4, as it’s a bit smaller. But it’s closely related to the SX-4 and has the same 1.6 petrol and diesel engines. Suzuki’s history means it’s no surprise the 4WD Vitara has been engineered for decent ability in the rough.
Ssangyong quietly unveiled a near-showroom crossover concept. Well, no Ssangyong unveiling was going to be a crowd-puller was it? But you know what, it looks rather good. You can tell it’s nearly finished because of all the fully-moulded plastics in the cabin.
As with the Fiat 500X, it came in two versions, one more bash-proof for off-roading and the other slicker as a recognition that people will use it as a substitute for a small hatch. But both have 4WD and diff locks just in case you get lost on the Hemel Hempstead magic roundabout and end up in the Cairngorms.
In the days before the Juke or Qashqai, it was Toyota started the whole lightweight 4x4 thingy with the original three-door RAV4. Its spirit lives in the company’s Paris concept, the C-HR. They’re dead serious about using its themes, and hybrid powertrain, in a new car that would sit below the current RAV4, which has grown out of all recognition.
You don’t need us to impart the inevitable sad truth that this concept is going to be toned down before it reaches production.