Q3 SUVs give buyers plenty to choose from
Last week alone, four automakers unveiled their new SUVs and at least five more will follow before the year is out.
It is no secret that SUVs are becoming popular in Korea along with a boom in outdoor leisure and camping activities. In the first half of this year, five Korean automakers had combined SUV sales of 163,473 units, up 22.2 percent from a year ago. Imported SUV sales also increased by about 5,000 units over the same period last year.
Among Korean automakers, Kia Motors is leading the way with its all-new Sorento. Sales of the popular midsize SUV’s third generation officially start next Thursday, but Korea’s second-largest automaker has already received more than 5,000 pre-orders.
Kia has highlighted the latest Sorento’s safety, driving performance and bigger size. The company said that 53 percent of the new Sorento’s body is made with advanced high-strength steel, up 29 percentage points from the previous version.
The affiliate of Hyundai Motor Group adjusted the settings of the rear shock absorber and the suspension structure to improve driving. It also added a longer wheelbase, which provides more leg space in the cabin.
BMW is betting on the new X4, which it launched on Monday. The X4, which is the German premium automakers’ second sport activity coupe (SAC) after the X6, will appeal to Korean customers with its sleek design and performance.
“We expect to sell 800 X4s this year and about 1,300 X4s next year,” said Yang Sung-hoon, product manager for BMW Korea.
In Korea, the X4 comes in two models. The X4 xDrive 20d xLine, equipped with a 2-liter twin power turbo engine, can go from zero to 100 kilometers per hour (62 miles per hour) in eight seconds.
The X4 xDrive 30d M Sport package is more powerful. It has 258 horsepower and can go from zero to 100 kilometers per hour in just 5.8 seconds.
Jeep, the American auto brand that specializes in off-roading, has unveiled a newly designed Cherokee after seven years. The midsize SUV is one of its best-sellers along with the Grand Cherokee.
Chrysler Korea said that the all-new Cherokee will be the first Jeep to be equipped with a 9-speed automatic transmission from Germany’s ZF. This transmission allows 10 to 16 percent fuel efficiency enhancement over a normal 6-speed transmission, according to the company.
The latest Cherokee comes in three models: Longitude 2.4 AWD, Longitude 2.0 AWD and Limited 2.0 4WD. The 2-liter models are the first Jeeps to have a turbo eco-diesel engine, which produces 170 horsepower and has a maximum torque of 35.7 kilograms-meter (258.2 pounds-feet).
The 2.4-liter model is equipped with an I4 MultiAir2 gasoline engine that produces a maximum horsepower of 177 and has a fuel efficiency of 10.1 kilometers per liter (23.8 miles per gallon).
“As we have set a target to take 15 percent of the midsize SUV market, we want to sell more than 100 units per month,” said a spokesman for Chrysler Korea.
Smaller SUVs will also make their debut later this year.
Mercedes-Benz released the GLA Class on Monday to target young customers. The German automaker will reportedly introduce the GLA 200 CDI and high-performance GLA 45 AMG 4 MATIC models in Korea. It is expected to compete with the BMW X1 and Audi Q3.
Porsche announced last Thursday that it will add a new model of its Macan compact SUV with a 2-liter engine. The previous Macans had 3-liter or 3.6-liter engines. But the new Macan still has the same performance, going from zero to 100 kilometers per hour in just 6.9 seconds with maximum speed shooting up to 223 kilometers per hour.
Japanese brands are also launching compact SUVs to challenge the dominating Germans.
Nissan is pinning big hopes on its Qashqai crossover, which is expected to be released in the fourth quarter. The Qashqai, which was first introduced to Korea at the Busan Motor Show in May, is the first diesel SUV from Nissan. The Japanese automaker hopes to eat away at the market share of the Volkswagen Tiguan, the best-selling foreign SUV in Korea.
Lexus, the luxury arm of Toyota, will release the NX300h hybrid compact SUV in October before launching a 2-liter gasoline version next year.
Next month, Ford’s luxury brand Lincoln will release the MKC, its first-ever compact SUV, which was also unveiled at the Busan Motor Show. The MKC is expected to be released with 2-liter and 2.3-liter EcoBoost engines.
French automaker Peugeot is also preparing to launch the 208 next month. The popular B-segment car in Europe will draw in customers with its high fuel efficiency and cheaper price when compared to its rivals.
BY JOO KYUNG-DON [email@example.com]