2017 — year of the SUVs

Just about every single carmaker today offers at least one SUV

By RAHIMI YUNUS

The SUV phenomenon seemed to have struck the Malaysian automobile industry.

This year alone, the country saw the launch of Honda Malaysia Sdn Bhd’s BR-V and CR-V models, Mazda CX-5 and CX-9 models by Bermaz Auto Bhd, TC Euro Cars Sdn Bhd’s Renault Captur, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia Sdn Bhd’s GLA series facelifts as well as new GLC 200, and even Maserati is jumping on the SUV wagon with Naza Italia Sdn Bhd’s launch of the Levante S!

Just about every single carmaker today offers at least one SUV.

The Malaysian Automotive Association’s October 2017 data listed 6,017 SUVs — or rather 12.8% of the total 47,041 volume units spanning across all brands — were sold this year.

A total of 472,723 units were delivered from January up to October 2017, which is an increase of 1% year-on-year from the 466,157 units recorded a year ago.

Although the interest in SUVs among carmakers and consumers alike is gaining momentum, the family sedans will still be the industry’s main driver.

Here are some of this year’s newly launched SUVs that had the industry talking.

Honda BR-V and CR-V

Honda

Honda Malaysia is the 1st country in Asean to introduce Honda Sensing (Pic by Afif Abd Halim/TMR)

On Jan 5, 2017, Honda Malaysia introduced two variants — Type E and Type V — of the BR-V, which is the brand’s first seven-seater below RM100,000.

In July, Honda launched four new variants of its CR-V range — the 2.0 2WD, 1.5 Turbo 2WD, 1.5 Turbo 4WD and 1.5 Turbo 2WD — equipped with three key advanced technologies: The 1.5L VTEC turbocharged engine, Honda Sensing and advanced features such as Programmable Power Tailgate.

Honda Malaysia is the first country in Asean to introduce Honda Sensing — known as the next generation advanced safety technology in its CR-V.

Mazda CX-5 and CX-9

The Mazda CX-5 was rolled out from its newly-upgraded facility at Inokom Corp Sdn Bhd’s plant in Kulim, Kedah, last October.

It features the latest Mazda Skyactiv Technologies G-Vectoring Control (GVC) that retards the throttle slightly when cornering, producing a more stable and comfortable experience for both the driver and passengers.

The second generation Mazda CX-5 is expected to continue its predecessor’s success and contribute positively towards Bermaz Auto’s total revenue.

Bermaz Auto introduced the seven- seater CX-9 SUV not too long after the released of the CX-5. The long-awaited SUV is powered by a Skyactiv 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine and delivers 228hp and 420 Nm of torque.

The vehicle is also incorporated with Mazda’s GVC technology.

Renault Captur Facelift

Locally-assembled Renault Captur was first introduced to Malaysia in 2015 two years after the Spanish model was globally released.

Loaded with full features found in the fully-imported version, the Captur is Renault’s third locally-assembled model at Tan Chong Motor Assemblies Sdn Bhd’s plant in Segambut, Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia is the only country outside of Spain to assemble the certified energy-efficient Captur.

Mercedes-Benz GLA Series Facelifts and GLC 200 Range (main picture)

Leading luxury carmaker Mercedes- Benz is also jumping on the SUV bandwagon with the launch of its facelifted GLA series, along with the GLC 200.

Its new GLA models come in three variants: The GLA 200 Urban Line, the GLA 250 4Matic AMG Line and the GLA 45 4Matic AMG Line.

Targeted at people with an active urban lifestyle, the new crossover SUVs received a host of new exterior and interior upgrades such as a different set of bumpers, new alloy wheels as well as a new colour — canyon beige.

The new GLC 200 series on the other hand represents an entry-level model for the midsize luxury SUV. The GLC 200 is locally assembled in Malaysia.

The German carmaker’s best-selling SUV in 2016 was the GLC 250 4Matic.

Maserati Levante S

Maserati Levante S

The Levante S is loaded with a twin-turbo V6 engine
(Pic by Afif Abd Halim/TMR)

Riding on the wave of the demand for SUVs, another luxury brand to also have recently launched its SUV Levante S to the Malaysian market last month, via its local official importer and distributor Naza Italia, is none other than Maserati.

The petrol-powered S variant was brought to the market after the introduction of turbodiesel engine Levante earlier in February.

The marque’s first SUV engineered to excite, the Levante S is loaded with a twin-turbo V6 engine that features

its latest petrol direct injection technology at its core.

The model comes in two trims, the GranLusso and GrandSport.