Will Super SUVs Ever Be Thought Of As Classics Or Collectibles?
I spent an hour or two reading the first round of articles from the New York International Auto Show over the recent holiday weekend, and while there were a few nice surprises like the Hyundai Genesis Essentia (a beautiful GT-shaped concept with an unfortunate name reminiscent of a cheap bottle of perfume), there wasn’t all that much in terms of the big reveals one might find at an event like the Geneva Motor Show. It’s a show that’s typically consisted of new trim packs and a few new models from the more pedestrian and otherwise utilitarian side of driving. For instance, Jaguar announced a faster version of their SUV; the F-Pace SVR.
It’s got the standard upgrades you’d expect from a flagship performance model—more power under the hood, more scoops cut into the body, more quilted bucket seats in the cockpit, you know the drill—and the full package boasts 550hp, 502 ft-lbs of torque. When all that supercharged V8 power is sent to the four drive wheels, it lets the thing do 0-60 in just over four seconds. It’s quick and impressive, but it’s not groundbreaking.
Powerful luxury SUVs have been around for a while now, and like all expensive and complex vehicles with a few years of accumulated use, they depreciate on an aggressive schedule. It won’t be too long until first-gen X5Ms and Cayenne Turbos are sitting crooked in the backs of driveways on their caved-in air-and-magnet suspensions, and with the growing Chinese appetite for big and brash exclamations of wealth, there will be plenty of manufacturers trying to cash in on the trends set by the likes of Range Rover Sports and blinged-out G-Classes, so turnover will likely speed up if anything. Even Lotus has plans to build an SUV in the near future.
So thanks to the same forces of demand that gave us such frivolities as gold iPhones and designer dogs, the richest soccer moms on the block are now packing twin-turbo V12s to help them schlep the kids around. My question is whether or not any of these things will be sought-after once they aren’t so sparkly. I mean, the GMC Typhoon is a collectible now, but it was clearly built for a different time and purpose than the new slew. In the case of the GMC there’s certainly a layer of novelty that boosts the value (there simply wasn’t anything like it back then) but I think the same can be said of the current Jeep Trackhawk—707-horsepower in a Grand Cherokee is silly, but the pointlessness is what makes it interesting. To get at the question in the title then, it’s not hard to imagine another supercharged Range Rover falling into obscurity and low resale value, but perhaps the really wild SUVs like the Jeep will prove themselves memorable beyond the current model year.
Because it’s still a relatively young market though, we don’t really have any examples of staying power to test this. We’ve reached a point where it seems like we hear about a new one every few months—recall the recent Alfa Romeo Stelvio special edition to commemorate its Nürburgring lap record—so it’s conceivable that none of these SUVs will remain in the spotlight long enough to enter the zeitgeist as a specific model rather than a forgettable and short-lived entrant into the trend. What do you think? Are these new super utility vehicles just more examples of new cars destined for scrapyards once their computers get wonky?