THIS month’s Geneva’s Salon de l’Auto – Europe’s big annual motor show – is always a place for optimism, writes Huw Thomas.
Demand for SUVs and “Cross-overs” seems to be growing pretty well everywhere. They are in every market sector now with a greater or lesser degree of 4×4 credibility – and some with none. Here’s three of Geneva’s better efforts.
Mitsubishi L200: Due here mid to late Summer. Built in Thailand, its Asia-Pacific launch was last year. Longer and wider than the current model, load-space has been increased. Powered by a new 2.4 litre 4 cylinder diesel engine with variable geometry turbocharger, the 6-speed manual gearbox through which it drives is also new (auto an extra as before).Bodywork and chassis improvements, together with a higher quality interior, result in greater refinement and better ride and roadholding, it’s claimed. SS4-II (Super Select 4WD II) once more allows high ratio full-time 4×4 on-road and 4 off-road settings can be chosen by turning a rotary knob. Stability and traction controls extend to trailer stability and hill-start assist too. Club (extended) and Double Cab versions on offer.
Renault Kadjar: Due here in the Autumn, this Csegment (lower-medium) cross-over is a sister-car to Nissan’s Qashqai and will prepare the way for a return to larger cars after withdrawal of Laguna and Espace some two years ago. Slightly larger than the Qashqai but not as big as the X-Trail (now also billed as a cross-over) it points Renault in that direction. Like Nissan, there will be 4×4 variants, so some ”SUVcred” here at least. The system will offer “Auto” 4×2/4×4; “Lock” 4×4; “2WD” front drive only and engines likely to mirror those of the Qashqai too: 1.2/1.6 petrol or 1.5/1.6 Diesel.
Mazda CX-3: Scheduled for “early Summer” (mainland Europe) so slightly later here perhaps, this B-segment smaller cross-over will join the larger (and revised) CX-5 for 2016. Like the (imminent) Mazda2, the CX-3 gets the full SKYACTIV lightweight, highefficiency treatment: body construction; engine and transmission. To Mazda’s credit, both 4×2 (FWD) and 4×4 models will be offered and engines are likely to be the new 1.5 litre petrol and Diesel units seen in the Mazda2 and Mazda3.