New SUVs from Mercedes-Benz and Skoda
This week more details about the latest SUVs from two brands at quite different ends of the prestige spectrum have emerged.
But one thing that the impending arrival of the Mercedes-Benz GLB and the Skoda Kodiaq makes clear is that the global appetite for this type of vehicle is continuing to increase.
The GLB is designed to occupy the gap between the larger GLC and the compact GLA, benefiting from being based on the same platform as the B-Class. And Mercedes-Benz is not doubt hoping that the popularity of SUVs will help its latest crossover offering to sell in greater numbers than its existing hatchback counterpart.
When the GLB arrives, it will be the sixth SUV to join the Mercedes-Benz range, giving the firm the ability to compete more effectively with rival vehicles of a similar size, according to Auto Express. So BMW’s X1 and Audi’s Q3 will both be in its sights, even if it is at a disadvantage due to arriving a little late to the party.
A pair of diesel engines and at least two petrol power plants are expected to define the GLB range in the short term, with observers predicting that it will not be long before a hybrid model with the ability to recharge via a mains connection is also available. For those who prefer their SUVs to offer more performance than eco-friendliness, an AMG iteration of the GLB should fit the bill.
The GLB certainly has a lot of promise, although at this point it seems that its release in the UK will not be scheduled until 2019, following a launch at some point in the preceding year. Whether or not the demand for SUVs will have cooled by this point remains to be seen, but car buyers are still seeking out finance packages for this type of vehicle at the moment, Mercedes-Benz will have to contend with the fact that rival models will be even more established by this point.
Skoda’s Kodiaq SUV has been photographed during a testing stint this week, building on the word-of-mouth buzz that was generated back in March when this brand debuted its Vision S concept car during the Geneva Motor Show.
The look of the Kodiaq should come close to matching that of its concept equivalent, with its large size and full four-by-four capabilities putting it in the same category as models like the Discovery Sport from Land Rover and the Sorento from Kia.
It is expected that the Kodiaq will be more affordable than its rivals, with a price of as little as £21,000 estimated for the base model.
Little is known about the specifications that Skoda has settled upon for the production run of the Kodiaq, but it is fairly easy to make assumptions about the type of engines that will be on offer, given that it will be gathering most of its technical resources from the current VW Group range of power plants.
A 1.4 litre turbo-charged petrol engine will likely feature on the standard Kodiaq, while diesel engines taken from the Passat range of VW saloons and estates should also be on offer.
An adaptive four-wheel-drive system should boost its off-road credentials, although some believe that the Kodiaq will only come as a two-wheel-drive car in its basic iteration, with buyers encouraged to spend more to get the true benefits of SUV ownership.
A hybrid Kodiaq could emerge in the long term, although this will depend on whether or not Skoda decides that there will be demand for this technology and a willingness amongst its customers to actually pay the premium prices required to gain access to it.
More and more car manufacturers are putting a lot of money and effort into developing SUVs at the moment, and they can only hope that this is an ongoing trend and not a bubble which will eventually burst.