We’re an inclusive bunch here at Wheels, celebrating cars in all shapes and sizes. Well, almost all.
No matter how hard I try to be accepting of the things, I’m really struggling with SUV Coupes.
You know the ones – high riding trucks with a gently raked rear window – that deliver the dynamic compromises of an SUV with the packaging shortcomings of a fastback. They’re like a perfect storm of ineptitude.
Porsche is entering the fray with an all-new Cayenne Coupe, which depresses me greatly but Zuffenhausen seems like a reluctant follower.
BMW usually gets the blame for kicking this whole genre off with its lumbering X6, development of which kicked off in 2003. It was styled by Pierre Leclerq who also did the Mini Countryman, if you’re looking for a face to stick to your dartboard.
Leclerq, incidentally, has bounced from BMW to Great Wall to Kia and then Citroen in the intervening years, so maybe the X6’s legacy will haunt him forever. Or perhaps we should look out for a new Grand Picasso that looks as if its rear end has subsided due to wet rot.
I don’t think poor old Pierre should completely carry the can for kicking off this trend so I’m pointing the finger squarely at Lexus and its first-gen RX300, which debuted in 1998. Of course, you could dig back further and nominate the 1981 AMC Eagle SX/4, but that's not really a butchered SUV.
Back to 1998. Yes, BMW already had a perfectly good SUV in the shape of the X5, which made the X6 introduction appear comparatively egregious, but look at an early Lexus RX in the context of what was to come and tell me that it’s not an SUV Coupe. And should therefore be summarily cubed in a compactor.
Perhaps my impression of these cars is tainted by the people who tend to drive them. When the X6 was launched, an acquaintance immediately bought one. Allow me to paint a picture of this person. He would go snowboarding to European resorts each winter, equipped with the latest and greatest gear. He couldn’t snowboard. At all. He’d stand all day at the base of the lifts cultivating his salt and pepper stubble, peering uphill as if he was waiting for his mates to finally catch up with him. He’d be sneaking the odd sideways glance to see who was looking at him and sharing stories about the gnar he’d just schralped with anyone who’d listen. The X6 was perfect for the two-dimensional, feebly fantasist him, but do you want to be this guy?
The thing that muddies the waters is the fact that some of the latest crop of these cars are annoyingly good. The Mercedes-AMG GLC63 is a riot. But buy the proper SUV version instead. The same goes for the Mercedes GLE, the BMW X4, the Audi Q8 and so on. Those manufacturers who bring cars to market without a full SUV equivalent, like Jaguar with its I-Pace or Lamborghini’s Urus, aren’t entirely without culpability. Others? Well, the silhouette of Mitsubishi’s Eclipse Cross isn’t among the most pressing of its faults and if we could track down Aussie owners of the Infiniti QX70, we’d probably have something to say to both of them. Yet strangely many colleagues have no such disdain for the Toyota CH-R.
Then there’s the issue of where do you draw the line with these things. What rear window angle becomes unacceptable? Is the Porsche Macan one of ‘em? How about a Tesla Model X? SUV Coupes are malignantly tainting the vehicular gene pool to the extent that we’re now seeing hatchbacks like the Hyundai I30 Fastback N getting in on the gig.
Upon reflection, one can only assume that the reason people buy these cars is to sit up high, look intimidating and signal to other road users that they otherwise don’t need a big vehicle at all which, by any rational assessment, is not a winning combo of motivations.
The SUV Coupe needs to join celtic band tattoos, Snapchat doggy filters, eating Tide pods and dabbing as fundamentally bad ideas that were briefly a fad. Come on. It’s time.
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