The rise of the performance compact SUV
Remember not so long ago when 300hp was the ceiling for how much power a hot hatch could have? Then along came the first-gen A45 AMG and created a new category, the "hyper-hatch". Suddenly, 400hp in a hatch didn't seem like that much of a big deal (there's even tuning firms now getting close to 600hp from the new ones). So the question is – where to from here?
As the risk of proven totally wrong by the Germans, I’d wager we’ve probably reached peak-hatch power. Maybe 50 more horsepower is possible, but that would be it. The next niche for the Big Three would be performance SUVs. Yes, between AMG, M, RS and even Porsche, there’s quite a few to choose from. However, the compact SUV space has been relatively quiet by comparison. Sure, there was the original GLA 45 and RS Q3, but both were pretty lukewarm attempts. So below are a few concept renderings I reckon would get this largely ignored market up and running.
Render - Mercedes-AMG GLA45 S
First up, you have the new GLA 45 S AMG. I doubt there’ll be a GLB 45, so this would be the top dog compact SUV in AMG’s line-up. Running gear should slot straight in from the A45/CLA 45 S versions, so it’s not too hard to see this happen.
Render - Audi RS Q3 Performance Plus
Next up, the RS Q3 Performance Plus. Yes, I know, there’s already a new-gen RS Q3. But I reckon Audi needs to capitalise on the hype of the big-brother RS Q8, but give the Q3 a more beefed up "Performance Plus" version. Black out the grill area, bigger wheels, black trim, plus a neat 30hp more should do the trick.
Render - BMW X1 M
My third one isn’t my best work on Photoshop, but I blame BMW. The company's M division engineers would have their work cut out for them in trying to make the X1/X2 look anywhere close to how brilliant the 1M or M2 looks (esp the new M2 CS). Maybe they can shoehorn the M135i’s running gear into one of these, and run a high tune pushing around 350hp. That way it’ll be quick enough so no one would notice it’s ugly.
Render - Volvo XC40 Polestar
Lastly, my left-field choice. Volvo seems like it can do no wrong at the moment with their SUVs, and although they don’t have a proper performance SUV on sale currently, I reckon Polestar could help here. Grab the design elements from the Polestar 1, and get them to shove in the T8’s turbocharged and supercharged 2.0 in there with around 400hp. Job done.
Tell me what you think in the comments!