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Crossing over

Crossing over

The crossover segment is almost old hat now, even though few of its representative cars have yet to turn up in showrooms, but Karmann's take on this new segment is a showstopper. For the record, Karmann doesn't call this concept a crossover; it's a sport utility cabrio, or SUC for short (OK, the name needs work). I'm not an SUV guy, but the moment I saw this car, I liked it. The nose is reminiscent of the Porsche Cayenne but brawnier; it has big, rugged-looking wheels and a convertible top. Its front and rear suicide doors have big handles on the outside that lie flush with the body until they're pushed, making them pop out. Instead of a gear shift, a dial controls the automatic transmission's mode, with paddle shifters becoming active when it's put in manual mode. This dial shifter looks futuristic and does away with the increasingly anachronistic gear shifter, which, on a modern automatic, doesn't need to be a big metal pole that can be muscled into position. Although the Karmann SUC is being shown as a concept, a representative assured me the company is more than ready for production. And if you haven't heard of Karmann since the Ghia, the company runs a successful business producing things such as convertible tops for the more well-known carmakers.