Bean Counters 1 Engineers 0

‘ Hatchbacks on stilts’ would be an equally apt heading for this blog post. As is the case of obesity rate of American, mini-SUVs have also been ballooning in weight thus creating segment space below them. So everyone from Audi to Volvo have been trying to slot micro-SUVs beneath their mini SUVs. So you see an Audi Q3 beneath a Q5, a Mercedes GLA below a GLK and a BMW X1 below an X3.

RWD BMW X1 and the Audi Q3
Note the contrast in proportions between the RWD BMW X1 and the FWD Audi Q3

The quest for greater profits coupled with the ignorance of customers means that most OEMs have built their microSUVs on front drive platforms. Which is fine by me. More power to them. My biggest beef with them is the ugly front overhang we see which throws off the styling proportions of the car.  Now if I were buying a Corolla or a Subaru or any value brand car, I would not have given a hoot.  But if I am spending my hard-earned greenbacks on a premium brand, I want my small SUV to look as good as their XXL sized one.

This is one lesson I wish car-makers would learn from Apple. Yes, the same company rumored to be developing cars a few months back. In Steve Job’s world, Apple’s smallest product, the iPod Nano was as slick as the iPad. Sadly that is not true in auto-dom.

So, all these days, the BMW X1’s USP was that it was not and did not look like a front-wheel drive car, and in my mind, was the best-looker amongst the German Trio. Alas, not any more. The X1 has been revamped with me-too FWD looks. Most scribes are okay with that but for me, its blasphemous to drive a front wheel driver Bimmer or a Merc.

Alas, when profit trumps brand identity, you are forced to switch to FWD platforms – especially for the smaller cars. Bean counters rule!


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