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Environmentalists on the wave: a fad or a merit of technology?

In recent years, people all over the world are increasingly buying local people, and this trend is also observed in our region. In the Baltic States, the sales volumes of city dwellers are growing steadily, and in the last three years since 2018, their market share has increased from 34% to almost 44%. Local residents have achieved similar success in other European countries.

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Auto journalists in different countries regularly test different models, because it allows you to evaluate different representatives of the same segment and understand which can really be called the most modern. For example, one of Britain’s favorite car media “AutoExpress”, compiling an average SUV rating, this year awarded the laurels of the winner to “Hyundai Tucson”. The crossover of the South Korean brand, which is also popular in Latvia, overtook the second-placed Kia Sportage and the electric Škoda Enyaq iV, which completed the top three.

According to journalists, the main factors that ensured the triumph of “Tucson” over competitors are its technological superiority, roomy interior and excellent comfort. Interestingly, the Sportage, which is built on the same platform, received a very similar rating, but the Tucson received extra points for its slightly larger interior and comfort.

What attracts buyers

The features highlighted by British car journalists – technological superiority, roomy interior and comfort – are among the most important for people. Therefore, middle-class crossovers are most popular among families who choose a car based on clearly defined criteria. “Crossovers are mainly of interest to people who value comfort. It is easier to get into them, you sit a little higher and see more. Crossovers are also chosen by those who like to feel calm at the wheel: greater ground clearance, additional body protection and the ability to see everything from above increase psychological safety ,” says “Kursors.lv” car reviewer Māris Gaugers.

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In the early days of the SUV segment, it was strongly emphasized that the models had off-road qualities. People were tempted to buy these cars precisely because they combined greater comfort and better handling. “Now we don’t talk about it anymore. Now the emphasis is on exclusivity, comfort, design, style and driving characteristics. Perhaps even those who buy a compact crossover for the sake of mobility and greater ground clearance understand deep down that these advantages are no longer necessary in his everyday life . Safety and new technologies are much more important,” says Gauger.

Toms Timoško, a car expert from “Klubs” magazine and member of the jury of the Latvian Car of the Year competition, remembers that one of the special features of the first “Toyota RAV4” and “Honda CR-V” crossovers was four-wheel drive, which gave them an advantage on worse roads. However, the situation began to change when the Nissan Qashqai appeared on the market. In the first generation, it rather resembled a hatchback with higher ground clearance and driving characteristics characteristic of this type of car.

“After some time, such models became a fashion statement, and the transition was forgotten. Now the clearance of some crossovers does not differ from the clearance of sedans and hatchbacks. Manufacturers have worked hard so that the driver of the crossover feels as good as in other cars,” says the expert.

Crossovers have become so popular that some manufacturers are even abandoning sedans or wagons and directing all production capacity to the models with the highest demand. “Those who need a spacious family car would have bought a mid-size station wagon 10 years ago, but now they choose a crossover. They are bought by couples, families, business leaders and everyone else,” Timoshko explains.

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Progress encourages others to strive as well

British journalists, who rated the crossovers of South Korean manufacturers the most, drew attention to their impressive and bold design and a huge leap in terms of interior quality. For example, the Tucson model has the largest 10.25-inch central touchscreen in the class and the same size digital instrument panel. Thanks to the small gearbox tunnel, five people can comfortably sit in the cabin, and the luggage compartment with a capacity of 620 liters surpasses all competitors. The Sportage, which has a lot in common with the Tucson, is also praised for its comfortable rear seats, but its boot is smaller at 591 litres.

Some believe that such a set of characteristics corresponds to the level of manufacturers even in a higher class, and Mari Gauger, who has accumulated a wealth of experience in car testing, is not surprised by such a statement. He points out that the popularity of the latest “Koreans” is no wonder – after all, manufacturers have thought over every detail and developed technologies for many years.

Latest technologies

All three of the best crossovers created by experts have an electric drive. Both Tucson and Sportage are equipped with one of three available hybrid engines, while the Czech Škoda Enyaq iV is fully electric.

The technological level is the cornerstone of the popularity of the models, so it is natural that the manufacturers do not skimp on modern systems in the most successful crossovers. For example, in the richest versions of “Tucson” you can even find a function such as remote parking, which allows you to easily drive the car out of a narrow place using only the key.

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“Personally, it seems to me that crossovers have become popular with people who care about style. Manufacturers are trying to make the so far rather uniform models of this segment stand out from the crowd and make them easily recognizable,” summarizes Gauger.

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