Crossover evolution

crossover evolution

Way back in 2007 Nissan decided to abandon the battle that they were losing against the VW Golf and Ford Focus (C-segment). The Almera was a good car, but a sales/profit disaster. To replace this model, they looked to their brand new London “think-tank” design studio. That team came up with a radical and fashion led urban concept they called a “crossover” vehicle. In essence it was the standard FWD Almera hatchback underpinnings, with an SUV style (but much less macho, and more sporty) body on top. Other Japanese manufacturers had tried the crossover idea before, as a commenter has mentioned, the Subaru Forrester was released in 1997 and the Honda HR-V in 1999. Both were more traditionally (non-sporty) styled SUVs which also had energy wasting AWD. The market niche was empty for Nissan to test the water by ditching that AWD hardware and avoiding the rugged styling… and now, 5 years later the Qashqai is a phenomenon. Over 2 million of them have been sold across the world, and every manufacturer has been inspired by the design, the engineering (2WD) and have targeted Qashqai customers. Nearly all manufacturers got greedy though, and didn’t stick with Nissan’s winning formula of SUV looks with totally comparable C-segment prices. This year, Nissan had the scary prospect of following up their smash hit vehicle with an all new Qashqai. Again designed by the London studio, by the same designer I believe? Matt Weaver (another Coventry University graduate) is now the official Godfather of Qashqai. I’ve created a montage for this article, of various production and concept Crossover designs…. see if you can name them all. Some are Nissan’s own concepts leading up to the final new Qashqai design. Two or three concept cars were used to test ideas on the public, before choosing the final design for Qashqai 2014.

edit: to add to this post, I of course managed to overlook the original Crossover design. Which was not produced in Japan. Just like most market niches, it originated in the creative pool of France. The Matra Simca Rancho was a small, urban SUV styled vehicle with FWD only!

2WD and based on a b-segment car- here’s the original urban crossover from 1977! The Matra Simca Rancho
crossover evolution
Various Crossover models

3 responses to “Crossover evolution”

  1. Subaru invented the Crossover urban SUV vehicle way back in 1995 with the Outback and in 1997 with the Forester, long before any Nissan models. Both are still growing in sales and provide the backbone of Subaru models,.The new 2014 XV Crosstrek Hybrid adds another distinctive model to the Subaru crossover lineup


    1. Sorry Ron, the Outback, or Forrester don’t count for me, as they had genuine (and fuel consuming) AWD…. as do all Subarus. The Forrester was built like a car though, without a separate body on frame, but they didn’t go far enough and remove the superfluous AWD. The power split was apparently 60% front wheels, but that 40% makes all the difference. I really like Subarus, great cars, but generally poor styling. Qashqai really made an impact by having great form and proportions. Plus there was NO 4×4 hardware at all under the basic versions.

      I will actually edit my post though to include the REAL original Crossover, the Matra Simca Rancho, and I will make it clear the 1999 Honda HR-V that I mentioned actually had an AWD system!


    2. To add, the Crosstek Hybrid you mention also is not a true Crossover because it has AWD. It is yet another greedy attempt to charge more money for a copy of the Qashqai.

      I can list Crossovers with 2WD models for you:
      Nissan Qashqai and Juke
      Kia Sportage
      Hyundai ix35
      Opel/Vauxhall Mokka (Buick Encore)
      Ford Kuga (2013)
      Renault Captur
      Citroen C4 Aircross
      Mitsubishi ASX
      Peugeot 2008
      Suzuki SX4 S-Cross
      Skoda Yeti
      Mercedes GLA
      Range Rover Evoque
      Mazda CX-5
      VW Tiguan
      Audi Q3
      BMW X3
      Acura MDX (2013)
      Volvo XC-60


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