Customers driving 4×4 design ever bigger say auto design house SterlingTuesday 29th June 2021
Bigger, badder and meaner – customer tastes in 4×4 and pickup design continue to explore the extremes according to vehicle design house Sterling Automotive.
Sterling offers premium vehicle customisation – enriching styling with a uniquely British flair. It has seen demand increase for super-size mods as customers look to make their pickups and 4x4s stand out – and performance is not always the goal.
As a key Davanti Tyres partner, Sterling’s stunning vehicles are fitted with Davanti’s range of ultra high performance and all-terrain tyres – including its flagship Protoura Sport and Terratoura A/T brands.
Terratoura A/T’s recent size expansion – up to 21” – has placed it perfectly on-trend for today’s custom 4×4 consumer.
“There is very much a trend, in 4×4 particularly, for going bigger in every way possible,” said Doug Topott, Brand Director for Sterling Automotive.
“Whether it’s a Ford Ranger or a Land Rover Defender, there are those who want to add more rugged bodywork, lift it higher, upsize the wheels, anything they can do to make their vehicle become or appear bigger.”
It’s a cultural shift in the UK. Where once oversized US-style 4x4s and pickups were not seen as desirable, in recent years attitudes have changed with customers looking for ever larger vehicles, whether for work or play.
“There has definitely been a shift in favour of really big, brutalist shapes and away from the more compact, practical off-road 4×4 silhouettes of the past,” said Doug.
“Customers are keen to make a statement with their vehicle, they don’t just want to blend in.
“Changing the wheel size, ride height and bodywork alters the performance and characteristics of their vehicle. That can mean increased noise, a change in the handling of the vehicle, even something as practical as not fitting into a multi-storey car park – but I’ve yet to see anyone change their mind once we’ve explained that!
“If you want to stand out and display your individuality then beefing up your 4×4’s look is a good way to achieve that.”
Even the new Land Rover Defender is not immune.
“We have customers who want their new Defender fitted with adventure packs for off-roading and want to push the wheel sizes bigger,” said Doug. “But new Defender customers are always caught in two minds. On one hand they want a go-anywhere 4×4, on the other they want an SUV with a sleeker road look and low profile tyres.
“It genuinely goes both ways. The new Defender is highly capable but it still feels in many ways like an SUV, rather than the more sparse, functional interior of its predecessor.
“That’s where Terratoura is a great all-terrain tyre. It is rugged and capable, it does the work off-road and on, but it is also a fantastic looking tyre, it can look both rugged and sleek depending on the size and the wheel.”
The trend for bigger is more subtle among the professional pickup sector – where practicality matters a lot more – but it is still present.
“Almost all of the pickup market we see is for business use,” said Doug. “While those customers have more practical considerations, like where their vehicle can easily go, they are also now often looking for bigger options.
“A lot of the time that is restricted to wheels, because if you need your pickup to actually go off-road for your business, additional bodywork could hinder that, but we do some upgrades with light bars and such.”
But there’s one thing everyone agrees on – interiors.
“Everyone wants comfort,” said Doug. “That’s the one constant. Everyone wants a high end look and extreme comfort inside. Sleek, black interiors are the thing at the moment.”
So what advice would Doug have for anyone looking to specify a custom or enhanced 4×4 or pickup vehicle?
“Think about what you’re using it for,” he said. “If you’re mostly going to be cruising round town you can play about with the extremes, go for the aesthetic. If you’re actually using your pickup or 4×4 off-road you just need to consider whether the mods you’d like to make will get in the way and maybe consider mods that add functionality instead.
Discover Sterling Automotive vehicle range and personalisation options at www.sterling-automotive.co.uk.