2023 Author: Eric Donovan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-27 05:39
The carmakers are offering more and more models that at least outwardly resemble off-road vehicles. Such vehicles are particularly popular with the VW Group.
By Thomas Geiger
When it comes to off-road vehicles, car buyers in Germany are divided. They appreciate their robust technology and the touch of adventure that blows around them. “On the other hand, there are functional properties that are more of a deterrent,” says Christoph Stürmer, automotive analyst at the forecasting institute Global Insight in Frankfurt: weight and high consumption, for example. The manufacturers are reacting to this by offering more and more cars that only look like off-road vehicles.
Cladding as a recipe for success
"Cladding" - in German: "disguise" - is what experts call this trend: passenger cars are disguised so that they look like off-road vehicles. Such “wannabe” models are particularly popular at the moment with the Volkswagen Group. The parent brand VW in particular sees the idea as a recipe for success and is working on appropriately redesigned vehicles. They are all called "Cross". "After we were very successful with the production of the CrossPolo, which was introduced at the turn of the year, the CrossGolf is now following," says press officer Christian Buhlmann in Wolfsburg.
This "golf for the rough" is based on the Golf Plus. With 17-inch wheels, bad-road running gear, increased ground clearance, bulky bumpers, sturdy side protection strips and a standard roof rail, it gets a touch of freedom and adventure. Under the sheet metal, however, it remains with the familiar engines and conventional front-wheel drive.
The model family is not yet complete. A cross version of the bestseller Touran is also in the works. It will celebrate its world premiere at the Bologna Motor Show at the beginning of December. Series production is scheduled to start in spring 2007. "However, there are no other cross models planned," says Wolfsburg.
Skoda has the scout
The group subsidiaries Skoda and Audi go one step further: With the Octavia Scout, unveiled at the Paris Motor Show, and the A6 Allroad Quattro launched at the beginning of this year, they have two station wagons in their range that are at least somewhat based on the technology of off-road vehicles. They also have all-wheel drive for the revised look and greater ground clearance. “The Scout can actually do more than most motorists will ever ask of it,” commented a Skoda spokesman.
Other brands have also recognized the advantages of an all-wheel drive suit in a slightly camouflaged dress and have corresponding models on offer. Volvo's XC70, the second generation of the “long-legged” CrossCountry, has been rolling off the assembly line for so long that the next edition is planned for 2007. The Legacy Outback from Subaru is knitted according to the same pattern, next to which the Forester is offered as a little brother, so to speak. In addition to CrossPolo & Co. there are other pure front-wheel drive models with off-road vehicle optics. This recently included the Hyundai Cross Getz. It has also been raised and fitted with massive bumpers. At Fiat, the compact Stilo Multiwagon station wagon is also included in the price list as an "Uproad". This type of car was invented by the British company Rover with the “Streetwise” based on the Rover 25. Together with the brand, however, this car has now disappeared from the scene.
Success of the SUV
According to analyst Christoph Stürmer, manufacturers orient themselves towards the success of Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) when it comes to cladding: “Although SUVs can have a very aggressive and dominant effect on other road users, they are valued by many more defensive and fearful customers, because they offer them better protection."
According to Stürmer, the manufacturers also want to address this “key stimulus”, which is impressed on many customers, with the “cladding” variants. In addition to the measurable advantages of a car - such as lower fuel consumption and lower weight - these also have the attributes that customers attribute to an off-road vehicle: a plus in safety and a certain feeling of adventure. "While purely objectively designed products like the Subaru Forester offer this mixture exactly the wrong way round and are therefore only perceived by niche customers, these optical models, developed according to subjective standards, are enjoying growing popularity." (dpa)
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