Motoring | Motoring News
Jaco Van Der Merwe
The increase in compact SUVs is set to reach new heights in 2021 as car manufacturers rush for market share in this rapidly growing market segment.
A number of smaller SUVs – whether more traditionally styled or of the crossover variety – have made their debuts over the last year or so, and South African buyers will be even more spoilt for choice for more affordable options as the year progresses. Judging by the popularity of the compact SUVs that have been released locally of late, carmakers are no doubt licking their lips at cashing in further.
The sales numbers of the models that have been introduced over the last 16 months, the Volkswagen T-Cross, the Hyundai Venue, the Kia Seltos and the Honda WR-V, speak for themselves. In December, the T-Cross edged the long-time segment leader, the Ford EcoSport, with sales of 823. This makes it Volkswagen’s most popular SUV and third best overall seller after the Polo Vivo and Polo.
It’s still a bit early to judge the T-Roc’s performance. Fitting in above the T-Cross and below the Tiguan, the T-Roc is also compact SUV based on the Golf which was launched late last year. It recorded sales figures of 129 in December. The Venue was Hyundai’s five-member SUV family’s best performer in December with sales of 580, placing it second on the Korean carmaker overall list behind the i20.
The only Kia model that sold more units than the Seltos’ 302 in December was the Picanto with 337. The Seltos line-up was bolstered by a diesel derivative during the course of 2020, which is very rare among smaller SUVs and no doubt strengthened its appeal. The WR-V’s total sales of 23 in December might dwarf in comparison to the others, but actually rates quite decently in the context of Honda’s overall performance. The car was only officially launch in November and in its first full month outsold all other Honda models bar the Amaze and BR-V.
The scene is set for an exciting battle on the local compact SUV front should regulations surrounding Covid-19 not wreak havoc around carmakers’ planned launch dates. If all goes well, here’s what South Africans should expect in 2021:
Suzuki Vitara Brezza
Slotting in between the Ignis and Vitara, Suzuki officially showcased the Vitara Brezza to the local media in December and hopes to launch it to market by next month.
The Vitara Brezza was Suzuki’s first car to be developed in India and has been on sale there since 2016. An update in 2020 saw the 1.3-litre turbodiesel engine make for Suzuki’s familiar 1.5-litre K15B four-cylinder petrol engine producing 77kW/138Nm.
Toyota Urban Cruiser
Similar to the Suzuki Baleno and Toyota Starlet hatch backs, the Toyota Urban Cruiser and Suzuki Vitara Brezza shares the same platform.
Toyota has not officially announced that the Urban Cruiser, which has been on sale in India since last year, is definitely heading to South Africa. But there has been enough speculation about Toyota’s plans to release a compact SUV to slot in below the RAV4 in the local market to make a fair calculated assumption that it might very well be the Urban Cruiser. There is no guarantee though that should the carmaker take this route, it will keep the nomenclature used in India. Last year Toyota rolled out the Starlet locally, which is named Glanza in its debut market in India.
There are definitely greater styling differences between the Urban Cruiser and Vitara Brezza than is the case with the very similar-looking Starlet and Baleno. The Urban Cruiser takes a few styling cues from the Fortuner around the grille and headlight design. Toyota’s compact SUV is powered by the same 1.5-litre petrol engine as the Vitara Brezza.
The new edition to Mazda’s SUV line-up might not be the Japanese carmaker’s smallest offering – it fits in above the CX-3 and below the CX-5 – but it is mostly definitely still very much a compact SUV.
In you are wondering why Mazda didn’t just opt for the name CX-4, it’s because that is reserved exclusively for model in China which is a coupe-styled crossover. The CX-30 is expected to feature premium finishes akin to the luxurious interior of the Mazda3 it shares a platform with.
Overseas models feature 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre petrol engine and a 1.8-litre diesel powerplant. Expect the local CX-30 to offer only one engine option, possibly the 2.0-litre, when it debuts in the coming weeks.
Set to be unveiled in “early 2021”, Nissan’s baby SUV rides on the same platform as the Renault Triber and is also built in India. Like other compact SUVs from India, it also falls into the sub-four metre category which qualifies it for tax exemptions in its home market. The Magnite’s HRA0 1.0-litre turbo engine produces 74kW/160Nm and is mated to either a five-speed manual or a CVT.
Nissan claims the Magnite can achieve fuel consumptions figures of 5L/100km in manual guise, a number the carmaker will no doubt try and milk in what is soon to become full-on local compact SUV warfare.
Set to touch down in April, the feature-packed Sonet will slot in below the Seltos as Kia’s smallest SUV offering. The Sonet is built in India and is closely related to sister company Hyundai’s Venue.
The Sonet made its international debut in India last year with a choice of three engines. A Smartstream 1.2-litre four-cylinder and powerful 1.0 T-GDi – similar to the one offered in the local Venue, as well as the 1.5-litre CRDi diesel engine found in the Seltos.
What makes interesting reading is the fact that it offers the choice of five transmissions. There five- and six-speed manuals derivatives, a seven-speed dual-clutch, six-speed automatic and six-speed Smartstream intelligent manual transmission (iMT).
Specifications for the local offerings have not been announced yet, but it’s very unlikely that all three engines and five transmissions will find their way to South Africa.
Renault plans to roll out the it’s smallest SUV, the twin of the Nissan Magnite, in the third quarter of 2021. Making its international debut at the end of this month, the Kiger will be equipped with the 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine that does duty in the Magnite. It is rumoured that five-speed automated manual transmission (AMT) will be offered instead of the CVT that is available in the Magnite along with five-speed manual.
The Kiger will slot in below the Captur as Renault’s smallest SUV. The second generation of the Captur, which was initially destined for South Africa in mid-2020, will only arrive in the fourth quarter of this year.
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