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Suzuki Ignis, Subaru XV, Kia Stonic and more: Why SUVs don't make sense anymore | Opinion

The Suzuki Ignis is one o the smallest ‘SUVs’ you can buy on the market, so why not call it a hatchback?

People buy cars for all sorts of reasons. It could be style, performance, economy, practicality or just because you like the colour – there’s no right or wrong reason.

However, the obvious trend in the past decade has been the rise of SUVs, somewhat literally, as sales of taller models have boomed.

While the style of SUVs no doubt plays a role in the buying decision, it’s hard to argue that the increased ride height and the improved view of the road hasn’t also played its part. Especially as more and more SUVs hit the road, it seems more people have flocked to SUVs so they could see around their fellow drivers; or at least not feel so low.

Except that seems to be changing as car makers seemingly evolve the SUVs back towards more car-like size. Whereas once the SUV boom was limited to bigger models, the push for high-riders has extended to the smallest cars some brands offer.

Recently we’ve seen the launch of the Kia Stonic, Toyota Yaris Cross, Ford Puma and Volkswagen T-Cross – to name just a few.

As we’ve seen before in the industry, often as buyer tastes change, they begin to miss elements of the previous models and car companies react accordingly, only to end up coming around in a circle.

Take the Toyota RAV4 as an example, when it first arrived in the mid-1990s, it arguably kickstarted the compact SUV movement, particularly its short-wheelbase three-door model.

But with each subsequent model generation the RAV4 grew from compact to its current size where it’s a genuinely spacious mid-size SUV, which meant Toyota now had a hole in its line-up for a compact SUV.

Thus, the C-HR was introduced and is now joined by the Yaris Cross (which, remarkably, is actually longer and wider than the original five-door RAV4).

The problem with this trend for more compact SUVs with more car-like elements is that they have seemingly lost one of the main reasons people buy high-riding models – they aren’t partially high. Many modern compact SUVs have noticeably lower heights and, in particular, seating positions.

Take the new Kia Stonic, as an example, it’s only 70mm taller than the Kia Rio. Or the Suzuki Ignis is just 100mm taller than its sister car, the Swift. Then there’s the very similar Subaru XV and Impreza, with the SUV-style XV only 135mm higher than the Impreza.

With increasingly lower seating positions in many of these compact SUV models you’re no longer looking across at fellow SUV drivers, instead you’re back to looking up at them.

Of course, none of this seems to have impacted sales of this new breed of compact, car-like SUVs as they continue to prove more popular than the equivalent small cars.

Like fashion, it seems as tastes change, companies will remain committed to delivering what customers want – even if the logical argument doesn’t make sense anymore.