Irish Times view on the rise of the SUV: posture and posturing
Unlikely as it seems, now even Ferrari is racing to catch up
The Ferrari SUV’s existence will be justified to the enthusiast by pointing out that, without its profit margins, Ferrari’s sports cars may not survive. Photograph: iStock
It’s over. Resistance is futile. If ever there truly was a conflict between ‘conventional’ cars (such as saloons, hatchbacks, people carriers and so on) and SUVs, then the bigger cars have won. Even Ferrari announced this week that, come 2020, it will be building its first SUV.
In fairness, the game was up in 2002 when the Porsche Cayenne SUV proved that a big, fast ‘Chelsea Tractor’ could sell in hugely profitable numbers. By 2007, Nissan’s Qashqai showed that traditional hatchback and saloon buyers would flock to an SUV if the price was right. Since then most car formats that are not SUVs have seen sales decline. The traditional family saloon, for instance, is all but extinct.
The secret to the SUV’s success? Posture. SUVs project a macho image but it is just an image. They look tough and rugged but in all but a few cases, they are identical underneath to their hatchback and estate cousins. They’re usually not as practical as a good estate and they’re often more cheaply built – car makers know that we buy them for their looks so don’t bother investing in other areas.
And the Ferrari? For now the project is still under wraps bar the knowledge of its existence. Within the hallowed walls of the Maranello factory it is referred to as the ‘Purosangue’ which means Pure Blood, a dig at its VW-based Bentley and Lamborghini rivals.
Will it be a true, proper, real Ferrari though? On that, there will be divergent views but one suspects it will go much the way previous such debates have. There will be initial shock, some horror amongst the cognoscenti. Then the car will appear, go on sale, be a success and we will all move on. The Ferrari SUV’s existence will be justified to the enthusiast by pointing out that, without its profit margins, Ferrari’s sports cars may not survive.
The SUV craze was born in the US and perhaps Enzo Ferrari himself was seeing the future when he said: “The Jeep is the only American sports car”. Unlikely as it seems, even Ferrari is now racing to catch up.