Johannesburg - Budget hatchbacks and one-tonne bakkies might be winning the overall popularity contest in Mzanzi, but the compact SUV market is where much of the growth is taking place.

Things are only set to get better for prospective buyers, with plenty of promising new products on the way in the not-too-distant future. If you’re going to be in the market for a new crossover or SUV in the next year or so, best you add some of these to your wishlist:

BMW X2

Due in SA: March 2018

Based on the X1 but flaunting a more daring design, the X2 will be aiming to rain on the Audi Q2’s parade when it arrives early next year.
Despite its relatively compact dimensions, the X2 has a surprisingly roomy 470 litre boot and SA models should be rather well appointed, as the European base model won’t be offered here.

Instead local buyers will get to choose between ‘M Sport’ and ‘M Sport X' derivatives, with drivetrain choices limited to a front-wheel-drive 2-litre turbopetrol, with 141kW, and a 2-litre turbodiesel mated to xDrive all-wheel-drive and producing 140kW and 400Nm.

Read more about the X2 here 

Ford EcoSport

Due in SA: 2018

South Africa’s best-selling compact crossover is due for a refresh soon, and although Ford SA can’t confirm exact timing at this stage, it has been earmarked for local introduction during the course of 2018.

The facelifted EcoSport gets a completely new look upfront, mimicking its Kuga big brother with a large trapezoidal grille positioned higher up and giving the vehicle a more truck-like appearance.

Local specifications have yet to be confirmed, but European customers now get the option of all-wheel-drive for the first time, as well as a new 1.5-litre 'EcoBlue' diesel engine. 

Read more here 

Jaguar E-Pace

Due in SA: Early 2018

Jaguar will soon offer South Africans a more wallet-friendly SUV option when the E-Pace arrives in early 2018 to do battle with the BMW X1 and Audi Q3.

Although no one's expecting it to be cheap by any stretch of the imagination, the E-Pace will still be more affordable than the F-Pace, by virtue of it sharing its steel-bodied architecture with the Land Rover Discover Sport rather than making use of the more expensive aluminium-intensive platform like most other Jaguars. It will also be the first Jaguar since the X-Type to offer front-wheel-drive, although most versions are expected to have all-wheel-drive.

Jaguar reckons the E-Pace is the “hot hatch” of the compact SUV segment, with the flagship powered by a 221kW version of JLR’s 2-litre turbopetrol, but there will also be many other 2-litre turbocharged petrol and diesel engine options.

Read more here 

Jeep Compass

Due in SA: Early 2018

Provisionally due in the first quarter of 2018, the all-new Compass looks to be a vast improvement over its rough-around-the-edges predecessor.

It boasts a sleek new look and is built around Fiat Chrysler’s modern passenger car architecture, although like the Renegade the four-wheel-drive versions also promise class-leading offroad ability.

The local engine range and pricing will be confirmed closer to launch, but expect it to command a premium over the Renegade range, which currently starts just shy of the R300 000 mark. Jeep offers five different engines abroad, depending on the market, in the form of three petrol options and two diesels.

Read more here 

Nissan Qashqai

Due in SA: Early 2018

Following hot on the heels of its recently facelifted X-Trail sibling, Nissan’s Qashqai will get a similar visual update as it embraces Nissan’s latest family look with a more in-your-face V-Motion grille and other detailed external tweaks as well as a more modern-looking infotainment interface inside.

According to Nissan, the 2018 Qashqai also gets a smoother ride, improved noise insulation and a raft of new driver assistance gadgets, although we’ll have to wait to see which of the latter will be offered to local consumers.

The highlight here is a new ProPilot semi-autonomous driving system that assists with the steering, acceleration and braking within a single lane on highways. 

Read more here 

Opel Crossland X

Due in SA: November 2017

Due later this month, the Crossland X will help usher in a new era for the Opel brand as an independently imported brand in South Africa, following GM’s divestment.

It might be based on the Peugeot 2008, but the Crossland X has its own sheetmetal that’s characteristically Opel and also offers two-tone exterior paint options that allow customers to specify contrasting roof colours.

Overseas customers get to choose between 1.2-litre normally aspirated and turbocharged petrol engines and a 1.6-litre turbodiesel in differing states of tune. Optional gadgets include Head Up Display and Forward Collision Alert with pedestrian detection, among others.

Read more here

Opel Grandland X

Due in SA: Early 2018

Whereas the Crossland X is smaller than the Mokka X, the Grandland X will serve as a larger alternative when it goes on sale early next year. 

The Grandland X is based on Peugeot’s 3008, but with a design inspired by the Insignia and Astra, and it’ll go head-to-head with the likes of Nissan’s Qashqai and Kia’s Sportage.

Overseas customers get to choose from a 96kW 1.2 turbopetrol and two turbodiesels in the form of an 88kW 1.6 and 132kW 2-litre, but as with most vehicles on this page, we’ll have to wait until the SA launch to get the local low-down. Available features include Adaptive LED headlights, Forward Collision Alert and Advanced Park Assist.

Read more here 

Renault Duster

Due: Late 2018

First revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September the Dacia Duster, which will come here as a Renault, has been renewed for 2018 with a completely new exterior design and a smarter looking cabin.

Engine choices abroad include the familiar 84kW 1.6, a new 93kW 1.2 turbopetrol and a 1.5 turbodiesel in 67kW (4x2) and 82kW (4x4) guises. New-to-Duster gadgets include blind spot warning, keyless start and a multi-view camera.

According to Renault SA, the Duster is likely to arrive on our shores in late 2018, with the range and specs to be confirmed at launch.

Read more here 

Volkswagen T-Roc

Due in SA: TBC

Volkswagen’s T-Roc is one of many new crossovers and SUVs that Volkswagen plans to launch in the coming years. VWSA says that the T-Roc will come to South Africa, but timing has yet to be confirmed.

25cm shorter than the Tiguan, the T-Roc is based on the Audi Q2 and is set to rival the Toyota C-HR and Nissan Qashqai. European customers get a wide range of TSI (1.0, 1.5 and 2.0) and TDI (1.6 and 2.0) engines to choose from and half the derivatives are fitted with 4Motion all-wheel-drive, an unusual move in the compact SUV segment.

Like the latest Golf and Polo, the T-Roc has a highly digitised cabin and owners will have access to a vast array of online services and driver assistance gadgets.

Read more here 

Volvo XC40

Due in SA: Early 2018

Provisionally earmarked for SA introduction during the second quarter of 2018, the XC40 brings Volvo’s newfound design panache to the broader audience of the compact SUV market and it could very well end up being the Swedish brand’s top selling model.

The new Volvo inherits plenty of tech from its larger siblings, including Volvo’s Pilot Assist semi-autonomous driving system as well as Cross Traffic Alert, Run-off Road protection and a 360-degree camera.

The initial range will be limited to T5 petrol and D4 diesel models, but Volvo promises to expand the line-up in due course.

Read more here

IOL Motoring