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Old 25th January 2013, 19:05   #1
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Default Converting a Hatchback into a Mini-SUV?

Hey Guys,

Here's a thought i have been having for some time now - we've all been hearing about the mini SUV segment, now i know that there are quite a few car platforms out there which are being used as the base platform for a Mini SUV (or) a future Mini SUV.

what if, we can choose to convert our Hatchbacks (HB) into Mini SUV's overnight! so we might not have the look of a originally designed Mini SUV, but at least enjoy the added benefits, like not getting the base of the car scrapped on every mountain of a speed breaker the Municipality puts on our Roads!

I am no mechanic or car guru - but i think this is what you need to do it, apart from the money, time and guts to make the change:

1. Higher Suspension - we need to increase the height of the suspension, raise the ground clearance of the HB from the usual 160-180mm to around 200-210mm at the minimum. This will mean a couple of things
(a) you need tires which are bigger i.e. move from the usual 13-14 inch rims to maybe 15-17 inch, depending on the size of the place the tire sits and of course wider tires. In some cases there might be the need to cut a bit of the metal/plastic around the tire space to accommodate the larger wheel and tire, but that can be done aesthetically as well. Cut-Shape-Dent and Paint.
(b) raising the height of the suspension - you would need to use a spring with more coils, and/or a larger diameter of coil and tubing. I am told that on most coil and leaf-spring-equipped suspensions, ride firmness will remain close to stock on lifts up to four inches. From there on up, ride becomes increasingly firm.But the caveat is that along with this increase in height come performance tradeoffs. A tall spring will cause the vehicle to feel unstable during cornering. This instability is because the more distance a spring compresses or extends, the more the vehicle "rolls" around on its suspension. also weight transfer can overload a tire's grip, which ultimately hurts traction and handling added to uneven wear and tear of the rubber. But/however i have read somewhere that if you use an adequately wide tires, then this issue can be negated to a large extent.

2.Modifying/dropping the swing-arm to accommodate the increase in height
3.Adding a bull bar up front for the butch look
4.adding roof rails on the car for the oh-so-SUV look
5.Add a step in, just so it looks cool
6. lastly, plastic cladding/mould around the car, like a wraparound bumper which the fiat adventure had, to finish off the look.

I understand that there might be some folks who will come out and say that this will compromise the ride and handling of the car, i don't have any answer to that question, but I am hoping someone ingenious out there who can come up with an intelligent solution to solve that problem.

in case this takes off, before you know it - the OEM's will step in and start offering this as an option. but if we can do this on our own, we have a really inexpensive option of converting our old HB's into Mini SUV's and give it a new look and lease of life for some time to come

This is just a thought which has been playing on my mind when i heard/read that some of the car companies are using their sedan/HB platforms to foray into the Mini SUV segment; with the Mini SUV's being priced at a might higher level than their sibling Sedan/HB's.

Cheers,
Aries
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Old 26th January 2013, 13:07   #2
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Default re: Converting a Hatchback into a Mini-SUV?

This is not to personally hurt your intentions. Appreciate your effort in asking out for help.

But seriously?!! Raising the suspension, adding bull bars will make a mini-SUV?. If ride height is the problem, look for a car with a good ground clearance and if required choose firmer suspension setup to ensure the vehicle doesnt scrape under load (Improved dynamics is an added advantage!)

For a moment i felt sorry for seeing such a topic in TBHP. If ever this gets completed, i doubt if it will ever find a place apart from perhaps "Wierd and Wacky mods" thread.

Again sorry for being rude, but this is exactly how i felt. Mods delete this post if it is offensive,
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Old 26th January 2013, 13:12   #3
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Default re: Converting a Hatchback into a Mini-SUV?

Interesting suggestion!

I did mull at trying something like that, but was worried about the driving dynamics and the changes that one may need to make to the body to expand the wheel-well to accommodate larger wheels otherwise which may foul with the body.

I am not sure if tampering with the wheel wells compromises the structural rigidity of the body.

Long ago when I had a Premier 118NE which used to kiss every speed breaker in Hyderabad, especially when fully loaded. One of the company mechanics had an ingenious idea and I went for it. He pushed a hard nylon tubing around the springs to get about 3/4th to 1 inch height. After that I did not have the problem of scraping.

However, the 118 was anyway handling like a boat and the driving speeds were much less and I did not notice much difference.

But what with our experience of sharper handling cars (I enjoyed the ownership of a Ford Ikon 1.8D) whether we will be able to live with such changes? Not too sure.

But I am tempted for a second - wish I had a Punto with 180mm clearance, and like you said add another 20 mm and add some claddings (fibre glass probably) ala the Fiat Adventure - lo and behold you'd have a mini SUV!

But then wishes are like horses with wings!
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Old 26th January 2013, 13:18   #4
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Default re: Converting a Hatchback into a Mini-SUV?

Quote:
Originally Posted by knaveen View Post
But seriously?!! Raising the suspension, adding bull bars will make a mini-SUV?. If ride height is the problem, look for a car with a good ground clearance and if required choose firmer suspension setup to ensure the vehicle doesnt scrape under load (Improved dynamics is an added advantage!)
+1

Cars are not meant for doing off roading or to keep you tension free on bad roads. Cars have their own strong areas like good handling, good ride quality, much better high speed abilities etc. If you are trying to raise the height to gain better GC in your car than it means you are going to face lo of issues related to handling, ride quality, control and stability. You may loose what its capable of doing right now eve you may end up turning your car into a showpiece instead of a practical moving vehicle.

Little bit of modification is understood but I don't think achieving 'SUV-like' GC is practical in a car. If you really feel that you need that much of GC to cop with your routine routes than better to get a Mini-SUV, MUV or a crossover.

Last edited by tbppjpr : 26th January 2013 at 13:20.
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Old 26th January 2013, 14:28   #5
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Default Re: Converting a Hatchback into a Mini-SUV?

Quote:
Originally Posted by aries_mavrick View Post
there are quite a few car platforms out there which are being used as the base platform for a Mini SUV (or) a future Mini SUV.
These platforms are also strengthened for the additional load & stress. You wouldn't really be able to do that in the after-market.

Quote:
Higher Suspension - we need to increase the height of the suspension, raise the ground clearance of the HB from the usual 160-180mm to around 200-210mm at the minimum. This will mean a couple of things
What that'll mean is you lose the dynamics & handling benefits of hatchbacks.

With a suspension lift, ride quality is out the window too.

At the end of the day, how much ground clearance do you really need? Most B segment hatchbacks have sufficient clearance to handle 99% of Indian roads.

Remember, tacking obstacles is about technique too. On a recent trip to Pawna, I took the C (all of 140 mm of ground clearance) over terrible roads without scraping once! This was with me, Rehaan, Samurai, Mpower & Vid6639 onboard. You'd have to see the roads to believe it. Of course, it required a lot of patience and really slow speeds; a Duster or Safari would have flown through these stretches and there's no denying their rough road advantage.

Related Post (Art of taking Speed Breakers(humps) without scraping the belly.)

Quote:
move from the usual 13-14 inch rims to maybe 15-17 inch
16 - 17" wheels & tyres add a lot of weight, not something that a puny 1.2L / 1.3L engine likes to haul. So, not only do you lose your dynamics, even power goes for a toss!

Quote:
Adding a bull bar up front for the butch look
After-market bull bars actually cause more damage than good (to your own car and the person / vehicle it knocks into)

Quote:
adding roof rails on the car for the oh-so-SUV look
Quote:
Add a step in, just so it looks cool
Quote:
lastly, plastic cladding/mould around the car, like a wraparound bumper which the fiat adventure had, to finish off the look.
Personal preferences, no comments.

End of the day, if you want an SUV, go out and buy an SUV. I wouldn't recommend making a hatchback something it wasn't ever meant to be.

Or you could go out and get a hatchback that looks like an SUV:


Last edited by GTO : 26th January 2013 at 14:30.
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Old 26th January 2013, 15:03   #6
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Default Re: Converting a Hatchback into a Mini-SUV?

Audi has rough road versions of their regular road cars. They are equipped with 4 wheel drive, under body protection/side cladding to protect the car body from flying stones and finally, raised suspension.

It's called "Audi Allroad" (Audi A6 Allroad, Audi A4 Allroad etc)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audi_A6_allroad_quattro

Audi produces such cars because there is demand for such cars in the snowy Arctic countries (Norway, for example).

If you have right engineering expertise (and money), converting a hatchback into a quasi-SUV without affecting its dynamics too much is possible - atleast in theory.

Last edited by smartcat : 26th January 2013 at 15:29.
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Old 26th January 2013, 19:32   #7
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Default Re: Converting a Hatchback into a Mini-SUV?

Wishes apart, but wont raising the suspension to the limits need a change of tie rods, steering linkages, transmission etc?
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Old 26th January 2013, 22:52   #8
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Default Re: Converting a Hatchback into a Mini-SUV?

Quote:
Originally Posted by aries_mavrick View Post
In some cases there might be the need to cut a bit of the metal/plastic around the tire space to accommodate the larger wheel and tire, but that can be done aesthetically as well. Cut-Shape-Dent and Paint.

plastic cladding/mould around the car, like a wraparound bumper which the fiat adventure had, to finish off the look.

I understand that there might be some folks who will come out and say that this will compromise the ride and handling of the car, i don't have any answer to that question, but I am hoping someone ingenious out there who can come up with an intelligent solution to solve that problem.

but if we can do this on our own, we have a really inexpensive option of converting our old HB's into Mini SUV's and give it a new look and lease of life for some time to come
Nice idea, but let me put down some of the thoughts that came to my mind when I read this. I seem to be having a negative bias to this for some reason. Apologies in advance if it seems offensive.

With all these changes you mentioned, you are most likely going to end up paying more than what a mini-SUV costs. This is definitely not an inexpensive option. If you want to try it out yourself to get the experience and has enough budget to get through to the finish line, its probably worth trying.

Since you have to modify the body panels to accomodate bigger tyres, these have to be custom made. This would translate to costlier spares in case of replacement as you would need to fabricate them in case of any damages to existing ones - something you can expect if you plan to drive this on Indian roads considering the road manners of the general public. When it is a one-off car, chances are more since even some of the otherwise responsible drivers tend to try capturing a pic on the mobile and would be driving with diverted attention.

If you plan on doing any offroading, modified suspension components could give you problems much sooner than you think, as we cannot do the stress testing that manufacturers normally do with any configuration. If not, the increased ground clearance is not going to be of much value anyway.

With wider and totally different diameter tyres, steering might need to be recalibrated to address oversteer or understeer as the case may be.

Aerodynamics could also go for a toss leading to poor performance and FE, increased body roll and so on.

Personally, I'm not sure its worth the effort unless you want to do it as a DIY and learn from that experience. If that is the case, I think this would give you tremendous learning in designing and building a car which would be helpful for your next venture.
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Old 27th January 2013, 20:53   #9
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Default Re: Converting a Hatchback into a Mini-SUV?

Good thought but it would be too expensive if one tries to convert his hatch to something which can match a SUV.

After looking at Premier Rio closely, I always had this thought why Fiat is not thinking of building a sub 4mtrs SUV based on Punto

I mean it will look and feel much better then Rio! Something on the lines of VW Cross Polo and taking that concept a bit further.

A tough looking hatch with setup to handle bad road.

Nissan Juke is also on similar lines.

Note: Pic from Netcarshow.com
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Last edited by HammerHead : 27th January 2013 at 20:55.
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Old 28th January 2013, 12:47   #10
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Mod Note : Please use the EDIT or MULTI-QUOTE buttons instead of typing one post after another on the SAME THREAD! To know how to multi-quote, click here (How to MULTI-QUOTE (when replying to a thread) on Team-BHP).

Quote:
Originally Posted by wanderernomad View Post
Wishes apart, but wont raising the suspension to the limits need a change of tie rods, steering linkages, transmission etc?
yes, but i think only if the height change is a little extreme, maybe for a 10-40 mm difference there might not be the need to change all of the existing mechanicals.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HammerHead View Post
Good thought but it would be too expensive if one tries to convert his hatch to something which can match a SUV.

After looking at Premier Rio closely, I always had this thought why Fiat is not thinking of building a sub 4mtrs SUV based on Punto

I mean it will look and feel much better then Rio! Something on the lines of VW Cross Polo and taking that concept a bit further.

A tough looking hatch with setup to handle bad road.

Nissan Juke is also on similar lines.

Note: Pic from Netcarshow.com
wow, this is exactly how i had envisioned it - the cross polo is a simple example of how it could be done. I assume they will do some OEM testing of the product for strengthening the chassis and putting in adequately strong shocks. This is my imagination going haywire but what IF, we could do this for lower height cars like the Ford Figo. I think it would be interesting.

Last edited by GTO : 28th January 2013 at 13:16. Reason: Merging both your posts.
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Old 28th January 2013, 13:00   #11
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Default Re: Converting a Hatchback into a Mini-SUV?

I would stay away from such wild thoughts, they do come (sometimes to me as well), but at the end of the day they do not make sense. Thinking financially, Driving dynamics, Maintenance, and overall headache when things go wrong when they are not supposed to.

GTO, had put it rather well.

If a car was not designed for the load, or higher GC, or bigger tyre, it will start pushing the ability of related parts to last longer. The after effects are these parts start giving up, when they should be going-on-and-on.
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Old 28th January 2013, 14:33   #12
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Default Re: Converting a Hatchback into a Mini-SUV?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
What that'll mean is you lose the dynamics & handling benefits of hatchbacks.With a suspension lift, ride quality is out the window too.
what if, this is a small lift, not like the ones they do in the US for their pick up trucks, just a couple of inches to acomodate the larger wheels.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
16 - 17" wheels & tyres add a lot of weight, not something that a puny 1.2L / 1.3L engine likes to haul. So, not only do you lose your dynamics, even power goes for a toss!
i could be wrong here, but i was told that the 1.5 Ford Engine which does service on the fiesta is also being employed in the EcoSport, or the Renault engine which is also going strong in the Duster - maybe it has a different state of tune for higher torque, i think this could also be done if needed. even the 1.3 Fiat multijet pulls the Ertiga which is heavier than its siblings. Again, i am letting my imagination go out on a limb to think "why not", this stems from a strong hatered for city driving in Bangalore where the speed breakers are humongous and the potholes come out of no where on a clean road, especially tough to catch when i m doing 60-70 Kmph in the night. I swear and wish "what if" my HB could be 10-20 mm higher with thicker tires.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
After-market bull bars actually cause more damage than good (to your own car and the person / vehicle it knocks into)

- this was just for the butch look, but i dont like them much either. The ones i see on the Indicas really put me off.
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Old 28th January 2013, 17:21   #13
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Default Re: Converting a Hatchback into a Mini-SUV?

Looks like Tata was reading this thread. Tata Vista Extreme concept
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Old 28th January 2013, 17:45   #14
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Default Re: Converting a Hatchback into a Mini-SUV?

Its a good idea if you want a modify an old hatchback to use it in rough roads only. Wouldn't hurt sometimes to have creature comforts in addition to the high ground clearance.
Trying to use it like a regular mini SUV would not be good since the dynamics are disturbed.
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Old 28th January 2013, 18:55   #15
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Default Re: Converting a Hatchback into a Mini-SUV?

http://indianautosblog.com/2013/01/t...d-at-bic-61748

I just read this (link above), its uncanny, this is how i pictured it in my head except for the wheel on the back.

I'll say, if the D90 extreme concept gets launched then i m going to be quite interested to see how the rest of the manufacturers tweak their cars to make it look like this and how the after market requests for doing similar stuff grows (or not!)
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