2011 Land Rover LR4Enlarge Photo
One of the next major growth areas for automakers in the premium arena is the subcompact crossover segment, which currently has only a few players and is experiencing strong growth.
The segment is especially popular in emerging markets where buyers enjoy the benefits of traditional SUVs, such as their taller ground clearance and improved visibility, but are deterred by their higher fuel consumption.
One of the first models in this segment was the MINI Cooper Countryman, but since then its expanded to include the Buick Encore and a new Fiat 500X is also just around the corner.
It should come as little surprise then that several major automakers are readying tall-riding minis of their own.
According to reports out of the UK, both Land Rover and Mercedes-Benz have already started work on their own subcompact SUVs.
For Land Rover, its new subcompact SUV will be developed with parent company Tata, Autocar reports. The vehicle will be aimed primarily at emerging markets such as China and India and will be powered by an engine of “around a 2.0-liter” capacity.
Such a vehicle has previously been hinted at by Land Rover design boss Gerry McGovern, who said the company could certainly go smaller than its current smallest model, the Range Rover Evoque.
The path for Mercedes-Benz isn’t so clear. The German automaker is working on a new compact crossover that’s on track for debut later this year and confirmed for U.S. sale. It will be called the GLA Class and share its underpinnings with Mercedes’ other compact cars like the A Class and new CLA.
However, CAR is reporting that Mercedes is planning a new subcompact crossover positioned below the GLA. A more likely scenario, however, would be the company expanding its family of Smart cars. The next-generation of the Smart ForTwo will include a new ForFour model complete with four doors and four seats, and the platform of this vehicle could be used for a new crossover.
Whatever the outcome, it’s clear the world’s automakers will be bringing out a range of new subcompact crossovers in the very near future, so better get used to seeing them on your local roads.