Home / Opinion / Views /  The news about the death of mid-sized sedans is premature

There’s no argument on the rise of the SUV as a global trend in the last decade. German luxury players such as BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz, mainstream volume leaders like Honda, Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Volkswagen and the auto alliance called Stellantis (a union of the Fiat-Chrysler Group, and the French PSA Group) have all rolled out their version of the SUV in different shapes and sizes, and sometimes even with different names that include UVs, MPVs, Crossovers and the like.

Even purist sports car makers such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche and Maserati have rolled out or plan to roll out SUV models. That’s not all. If there was ever a holy grail for the automobile in terms of a luxury limousine it would be the Rolls Royce which also launched its Cullinan in 2018, a pricey Rolls in SUV format. Locally in the subcontinent, Ford and Renault set the pace with the success of their Ecosport and Duster, respectively, that was followed by best-selling products such as the Hyundai Creta, Maruti Brezza, Kia Seltos and more.

By the looks of it would seem that the days of the sedan, especially the products priced in the middle segments, were numbered, but there’s a reason why that impression is misleading, as the recent launch of the German car-maker Volkswagen Group’s two locally-made models, the Volkswagen Virtus and the Skoda Slavia, and Honda rolling out a brand-new variant of its City also reminds us.

For starters, when it comes to performance, design and sheer looks it's always the sedan that global experts look at for benchmarks. The second is there is a fairly large and rapidly growing older population in India who would avoid SUVs, deterred by the discomfort of climbing in and out of these taller vehicles.

Third, most SUVS aren't ‘real’ SUVs, lack four-wheel drive, are not always as comfortable as sedans and more often than not derived from platforms originally created for sedans. Finally, a mid-priced segment, such as the one that its market leader Honda Cars plays in, only has three products: The City, the Maruti Ciaz and the Hyundai Verna. In the SUV segments, there are several dozens of cars that are available for buyers. No wonder then that Volkswagen has pushed out the Volkswagen Virtus and the Skoda Slavia – both taking aim at the above-mentioned segments and both with qualities and features that customers would appreciate, and namely include space, size, technology performance and safety. Not to be left out, Honda has gone ahead and rolled out a brand-new variant of its City with improved passenger comfort, tech bells and whistles and an electric Hybrid engine that claims to deliver superior fuel efficiency.

While there is no doubting the trend of how car-buyers have jumped from the buying migration pattern of going from hatchback or small car straight to SUV, the segment of the mid-level sedan remains viable and in demand with the presence of a young and growing population of automobile buyers. Despite the shift to SUVs from hatchbacks, the sedan segment still holds more than a tenth of the market even without counting the new entrants in the past the premium mid-size segment of sedans that actually saw an increase in 2021. And so, the era of sedans is not on its way out. With the new products that have recently rolled out, expect their sales to grow significantly in the next year to come. Remember the blind-test in which blindfolded respondents were asked to draw a car? Yes, they sketched out sedans and not SUVs!

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