Surely this is a con? Many supposedly off-road capable SUVs cannot even leave the asphalt. The reason quite simply is that they lack the traction to do so. This is particularly the case with compact and imported SUVs, which are increasingly being supplied without the critical 4×4 drive. Larger offroaders, on the other hand, are predominantly equipped to handle the terrain they were designed for.
Sales of SUVs without 4×4 have risen to a new high. In 2012, a total of 155,000 off-road vehicles with drive directed only to two wheels were sold, an increase of 11,000 on the previous year. These figures from the Federal Department for Vehicles were presented recently in the branch journal AUTOStrassenverkehr. With a total number of SUVs sold at 491,000, this means that almost a third are without off-road capability.
Sales of two wheel drive vehicles are particularly strong amongst importers and in the compact SUV segment. From January to May, 95 percent of all Nissan Jukes sold were without 4WD. 79% of Nissan Qashqai (see photo above), 71% of Hyundai ix35, 62% of Kia Sportage, and 61% of Skoda Yeti and Dacia Duster models were also without 4WD. Some models, such as the Peugeot 208 and the Renault Captur, are only produced in 2WD configuration.
The most popular SUV in Germany, the VW Tiguan, reached a sales figure of about 25,000 between January and May. 37% of these, or 9,203 to be precise, were manufactured without 4×4.
The situation is rather different in the middle and top-class SUV market segment. Of the three larger SUVs that make it into the top 10 SUV sales table in Germany, the 2WD proportion lies in two cases at under 10%. The BMW X3, which between January and May was sold 8,825 times, had a 2WD proportion of just three percent. The corresponding figure for Audi Q5 was also very low at around 6%. The Audi Q3 was the exception. With total sales in the first five months of this year at 10,171 (number 3 in Germany), the proportion without 4WD stood at 33%.