Cast your mind back to the late 90s/early noughties. This was a time when people carriers were all the rage, even though they weren’t very cool. Yes, brands like Vauxhall tried to make them a bit more ‘hip’ by offering a VXR version of the Zafira, but that all seemed a tad ‘desperate’.
The MPV, or Multi-Purpose Vehicle, had a big market at one time, with cars like the Renault Scenic being king of the hill. But have a look around your local streets and supermarkets, how many new MPVs do you come across? I bet you it’s not many. In fact, I cannot remember when I clapped eyes on a newly registered model. The SEAT Albrahama is still being made, you know. But you’d be hard pressed to actually find a new one. A used one acting as a cab, yes, but a new one? You’ve got more chance of seeing a unicorn.
Nowadays, though, the SUV is king. Even though I think it has a silly name that doesn’t quite apply. Sports Utility Vehicle. What does that even mean? It’s like one of those stupid job titles that state someone is a ‘hygiene technician’. No, you’re not, you’re a ‘cleaner’. Name aside, the high-riding ‘lifestyle’ icons are a popular sight on the nation’s roads with the Nissan Qashqai strong leading the charge since its introduction 1o years ago.
The MPV was indeed a powerful tool for transporting plenty of luggage, or if needed, 6 passengers. But, sadly, they’re not deemed to be the coolest cars on earth. Clarkson, Hammond and May often said that buying an MPV was like giving up on life. So, it seems quite natural that many would migrate to the more style-conscious SUV. Yes, Citröen and Renault gave it a good go in regards to design and style, but it’s not quite the same as, let’s say, an SEAT Ateca.
SUVs also offer a high riding driving position, which means you can laud it over other motorists, plus you have a better view of the road, so in that regard it’s a win-win. Another advantage is that many SUVs can, if desired, go off-road which helps to give the car more versatility. Although, I admit many will never see the sight of a deep muddy rut.
Speaking of which, the SUV has changed a lot in the last 20 years or so. For example, when you thought of an SUV back then you would think of something that was American and mostly horrid. Or you would think of a proper off-roader such as a Land Rover or even a Suzuki Jimny. Land Rovers are just fine, but they are a bit pricey whereas the Jimny is fantastic off-road, but a poor choice as a proposition for an everyday car due to its lack of refinement.
There is also a mush stronger choice of SUV nowadays as almost every brand is able to offer you one. Even Maserati and Bentley can offer you such a model – even Lamborghini is close to bringing one out. This simply shows you how successful this particular type of car has become. However, I can’t help thinking this will only last so long – what’s to stop the SUV dying out like the MPV? It’ll be interesting to see how buying habits change in 5 years’ time.
So the SUV is here to stay, but for how long?