As the popularity of SUVs has continued to rise carmakers realise the high-driving position on offer is often a bigger drawcard than actual practicality. This, in part, led to the small SUV market that is now made up of vehicles that are essentially compact hatchbacks on stilts.
The term Crossover is used a lot to describe the amalgam, which includes mini SUVs such as the Nissan Juke, Mazda CX-3, Suzuki S-Cross, Subaru XV and Fiat 500X. This rapidly emerging market has the ageing Mitsubishi ASX ruling supreme in sales over key rivals the Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V. More style-oriented entries, such as the Toyota C-HR and Hyundai Kona, are quickly joining the fray.
Crossovers are also becoming an important market for prestige brands to play in with hatch-based models, such as the Mercedes-Benz GLA, Audi Q2, BMW X1 and Mini Countryman. Below are three of our favourites from the lower end of the pricing spectrum.
Price range: $19,990 - $37,690
Built on the same chassis as the Mazda 2 city car, the CX-3 outsells the popular small hatch thanks to its sharp looks, and is one of the most popular small-SUVs in Australia. Unlike the Mazda 2, the CX-3 comes with a choice of petrol and turbo-diesel engines and FWD or AWD drivetrains.
Pros: Striking styling, broad model range, cool factor
Cons: Poor rear-seat vision, slightly underpowered
Price range: $26,990 - $35,290
This all-new model is the smallest soft-roader on offer from Toyota and wears one of its most audacious designs of recent times. The fun-to-drive C-HR provides good handling characteristics, particularly when compared to other SUVs in this class.
Pros: Strong dynamic ability, eye-catching design, spacious interior
Cons: Relatively high entry level pricing, poor rear seat vision
Price range: $24,500 - $36,000
The bold-looking Hyundai Kona is the Korean brand’s first SUV. Based on the same platform as the i30 hatch, it’s well equipped and has a roomy cabin. A choice of engines is available including a zippy 1.6-litre turbo engine with optional all-wheel-drive traction.
Pros: Bold styling, customisable interior options, punchy 1.6-litre turbo
Cons: Exterior style may not be to all tastes, no cheaper 2.0-litre AWD option