A Family Friendly Four-Wheel-Drive Ferrari?

Posted: February 25, 2011 in Uncategorized
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So what’s a carmaker to do when it’s all been done before-how about something a little different.

The auto industry’s ‘different’ car-one of the fastest growing car segments for a few years now-is in a category called the ‘Crossover’. Unlike the traditional SUV, a Crossover is a car that looks and acts like an SUV, but rides a little more like a car. The Crossover represents the evolution of the automobile as carmakers try to come up with new designs that follow the current trend.  But is the trend fading?

Examples of the Crossover include the Ford Edge, the Chevy Traverse, the Toyota Venza, the Honda Crosstour, the Acura ZDX, the Subaru Forrester, and the list goes on.  They’re like big hatchbacks; not quite minivans and personally, I think some models are a little ugly, and one model can be very different compared to another. But they appeal to a growing trend among consumers, and that is to have one thing that can do a lot of things(more bang for your buck), and the fact that they’re different from everything else. Sure, a big SUV or truck can handle rougher terrain and carry lots of stuff, but they don’t get great gas mileage and they’re also no fun to park and the ride is a lot different than a standard car. The Crossover came at a time when the ultra-popular SUV hit its peak, then started to fade. But are Crossovers becoming more common? Is it time for another change? Given the stagnant car sales over the last five years, manufacturers are looking at new, different concepts to boost sales, and possibly make the Crossover just one more stage in the evolution of the car.

Lets face it, people can be motivated to buy things that are new and different, soft drink companies do it all the time. So what are carmakers doing to make the next leap and move away from the current ‘Crossover’? They’re introducing some strange, but welcomed designs. On the welcomed side is the new 2012 Hyundai Veloster. It’s a sporty looking hatchback coupe, but with a unique ‘third’ door design, making it easier for passengers to get into the back seat. Mazda did something similar with the introduction of the RX-8, but that has two extra suicide doors, not one on the passenger side like the new Veloster.  True, it’s basically a sport compact car, but the third door is very different. Since when did car manufacturers care at all about the passengers in the rear of such a car-traditionally they’re lucky to even have a back seat!

That brings me to the next new car, this one more on the strange side. How about the new Ferrari FF, four wheel drive, four-seat hatchback-no, it’s not an SUV. Finally, a Ferrari that you can actually take to the grocery store, and buy things, and with the first ever four wheel drive transmission, the FF should get better traction for those trips to Tahoe in the winter. I’m not sure what motivated Ferrari, but given Porsche’s recent introduction of a four door sports car called the Panamera, I guess it’s not that crazy.

Also on the stranger, different side is the new convertible Nissan Murano-the Cross Cabriolet. The Murano is essentially a Cossover car, but as a convertible, it’s really now in a class of its own. Ok, the convertible PT Cruiser comes very close to this, but when you think about it, the only thing that really comes close to a convertible SUV is a Jeep Wrangler, and taking the top off on that isn’t done with the press of a button.

With more than one car manufacturer taking bold new steps in automotive design, it will be interesting to see what comes next.





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