The age of the massive and ponderous high-end SUV is past.
Ultimately, you just can't ignore the environmental debate going on around you. First it was the customers; now the manufacturers have started to take notice. So what are they doing about it? Simply shifting the disaster area one level down and calling it the new 'Small Premium Utility' class. A linguistic ploy of self-justification in a marketing world that pays lip service to 'green' principles.
The reality looks different. These wannabe compact SUVs have little in common with the target compact range. At least as regards dimensions. Who needs that?
The latest example of this class is the Volvo XC60, derived from the Kuga.
This compact high-seater from Sweden presents itself in a completely new brand design and yet still retains the characteristics of a Volvo.
At Volvo, they don't mind challenges. It is far less likely to be up against the Tiguan, Kuga or Koleos than the brand new Audi Q5, Mercedes GLK and BMW X3. In other words, the high-end compact SUVs.
The Audi Q5 looks just as you would expect - a monster grille on the front and two headlamps with LEDs but little more besides. (The novelty is beginning to wear off.) The Mercedes will inspire with its sharp lines; at least they've got bold ideas in Stuttgart. The X3 is already starting to look its age and awaiting replacement.
In view of the predominantly German competition, the XC60 could certainly prove to be a success, not least because it represents a credible alternative.