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Automakers Target Hot-Selling SUV Segment

23 February 2016 - Automotive News

Automakers Target Hot-Selling SUV Segment

Automakers will debut their latest SUVs and crossovers at this year's Geneva auto show in an effort to win more sales in Europe's fastest-growing mainstream segment.

Maserati takes aim at the lucrative sporty luxury SUV market with its Levante, while Audi seeks to win affluent young buyers with the Q2 small crossover. Three Volkswagen Group brands will debut SUVs. The core VW marque will show a subcompact crossover concept while Skoda previews a potential seven-seat large SUV and Seat will unveil the compact-sized Ateca, its first SUV.

Toyota expands its SUV lineup with a production version of the CH-R concept seen at recent auto shows

SUV sales in Europe increased 22 percent to 3.05 million units last year, according to data from JATO Dynamics, outpacing the overall market’s 8.1 percent increase to 13.7 million. SUVs and crossovers accounted for 22 percent of all European passenger vehicle sales, up from 20 percent in 2014 and 17 percent in 2013.

Supercars will also take center stage in Geneva, with the Bugatti Chiron -- billed as the world's fastest production sports car -- likely to be the showstopper. Other automakers debuting high-performance models will be Lamborghini, Aston Martin and Jaguar.

The show's press days are March 1 and 2. Here are some key debuts:

Alfa Romeo

Alfa is expected to unveil the everyday versions of its key Giulia midsize car after the Giulia Quadrifoglio, the sedan's range-topping version, had its public debut at the Frankfurt show in September. The Giulia is likely to be shown with a 2.0-liter gasoline powerplant, which will be the entry-level engine, and a 2.2-liter diesel version. Deliveries of the Quadrifoglio and the diesel variants to Italian dealers are scheduled to begin by late May or early July. The Giulia Quadrifoglio has a Ferrari-derived 505-hp twin-turbocharged V-6 engine. The Giulia with the 2.0-liter gasoline is due in Europe by the end of the year. U.S. sales of the Giulia Quadrifoglio will begin in the third quarter, with other versions arriving in U.S. showrooms in late 2016.

Aston Martin

Aston Martin's new DB11 coupe will kick-start a product offensive at the British sports car brand, which has struggled since Ford Motor Co. sold it to an investors' consortium in 2007. The DB11 debuts an all-new aluminum platform that will underpin future Astons, along with a V-12 engine that uses turbocharging for the first time in a production Aston model.

Audi

The Q2 that debuts in Geneva will be Audi's entry-level SUV, sitting below the Q3. Its sporty styling is designed to attract younger buyers. Unlike the Q3, the subcompact-sized Q2 is not likely to be sold in the U.S. because it's too small for most American buyers.

BMW

BMW will unveil the 600-hp M760Li xDrive, the flagship of its new 7-series range. The all-wheel-drive sedan is powered by a twin-turbocharged 6.6-liter V-12 engine and gets slight exterior tweaks. BMW also will show the 740e iPerformance, a plug-in hybrid 7 series.

Bugatti

The Chiron replaces the brand's sole model, the Veyron. Bugatti says the Chiron will be the world's "most powerful, fastest, most luxurious and most exclusive production super sports car," although the brand is not disclosing performance details until the Geneva reveal. Motoring press reports say the car is likely to get an upgraded version of the Veyron's 1,200-hp engine with performance boosted to at least 1,340 hp.

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