Mercedes-Benz has released pictures of its GLE Coupe and, predictably, it’s proving a little controversial. Lots of people are comparing it to BMW’s least popular SUV, the X6. That’s fair enough – it certainly looks a little like Mercedes-Benz has taken a little, erm, inspiration from its main rival.
But some of the best cars in history have been blatant rip-offs. One company has an outrageous idea, which horrifies and confuses customers, and other manufacturers soon follow with cars that, as they’re not the first, aren’t quite as shocking. And thus, a new segment takes off.
Take Nissan. It axed its Primera saloon in 2006 and introduced the Qashqai. What were they thinking? Bin off the Mondeo rival and introduce a weird faux-4×4 thing? Er… now, not only has the Qashqai really taken off, every other manufacturer has jumped on the crossover bandwagon. Even Ford panicked earlier this year and launched its dreadful Ecosport.
It’s a slow burner, but maybe the weird, big coupe-on-stilts SUV is going to be the next big thing. You may not like it, and I can certainly understand why you wouldn’t, but fair play to the big German manufacturers for attempting to do something different. Someone, somewhere, will be able to justify spending upwards of £50,000 on an unpractical SUV. They may even find it attractive.
Last week we headed to Cannes for a drive of Audi’s TT Offroad concept. We didn’t actually get to drive it – weather conditions put a stop to that, but that’s by the by. We got to see it, discuss it with German execs, and there’s clearly a business case for it. It’s a stylish TT coupe with an increased ride height (meaning a raised driving position) and a dash of extra practicality. There’ll be a market for it.
What we really need is Jaguar to follow suit. Just look at the success of Land Rover over recent years – traditional off-roaders have given way to the rise of the trendy SUV. Maybe Jaguar should cash in on the success of its new sports car, with an F-Type on stilts?
Haters gonna hate. But it’ll sell.