Performance SUVs are among the most divisive cars on sale. They’re powerful, but also heavy and often shaped in ways that will make an aerodynamicist wince.
As the list of 5 cars below shows, they’re all quite unique and make this class one of the most eclectic in today’s new car market. These are cars for people who want it all – luxury, performance, space, desirability, plenty of four-wheel drive capability and plenty of driver appeal. So, should we all so stubbornly refuse to compromise?
1. Range Rover Sport SVR
Such a car can be widely admired, but most certainly will not be roundly loved. For some, its flagrant thirst, weight, expense and comfort-limiting excess smack too obviously of needlessness. For others, more is simply more – and the hottest Range Sport does excess like few others.
A diesel V8 is, after all, plenty quick enough. However, this is a question of taste, not quality. Admirers of the super-SUV niche – and they are numerous and growing in numbers – deserve an unclouded verdict that recognises the outstanding prospect among many.
No rival better mixes handling prowess, off-road talent and an SUV-flavour sense of luxury and functional plushness. But more importantly, none other comes close to matching the lewd sense of fun it keeps so amply on tap
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2. Jaguar F-Pace SVR
When Jaguar started making SUVs, that it would one day make a performance SUV became a pretty bankable probability. And the day it did, it showed so many of its faster-moving German rivals where they’d been going wrong by launching a fast 4×4 brimming with pace and sporting sense-of-occasion, but also more laid back in its dynamic character than many.
The F-Pace SVR is the sports car for someone who wants a car to use on the office commute and school run, and for weekend errands – and not one so stiffly suspended that it feels like a gigantic, rolling vehicular contradiction. Its snarling 5.0-litre supercharged V8 gives it all the speed and drama a car of this size ever needed, and its purposeful handling is exciting to boot; but its practical cabin and boot, and its pragmatic chassis tuning, also make it a car well-suited to the real world, too.
3. Porsche Macan Turbo
When Porsche recently updated its best-selling model – nearly 100,000 Macans were sold in 2017 alone – it elected to leave the exterior design largely unchanged.
Don’t assume for a moment that any laurels have been rested upon, though. The Cayenne’s younger sibling was already the best-handling car of its type, and a mechanical makeover has only lifted its sky-high levels of precision and composure.
This is genuinely rewarding car to drive at almost any speed. In ‘Turbo’-branded form it’s powered by the same 2.9-litre turbo V6 that you’ll find in Audi’s medium-sized RS models, and it’s made the car a 400bhp prospect for the first time – and a typically fast, agile and purposeful one as well.
On air suspension as standard, the Macan Turbo cuts a more refined figure on motorway schleps than any hot hatch with comparable pace. At other moments it’s capable of hunkering down on its axles in height-adjusted fashion, and of cornering like some modern Subaru Impreza wagon. The latter phenomenon is genuinely remarkable to witness.
Not as practical as many cars here – but arguably more dynamically impressive than any of them.
4. Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio
This is the performance SUV whose chassis was signed off by the man who brought you the handling of the celebrated Ferrari 458 Speciale. It also has a turbo V6 engine derived from a V8 from Maranello, and itself is from a maker of some of Europe’s most revered sports saloons and coupes, which is back to form after something of a hiatus.
Some promising signs, then – and the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio doesn’t squander them. Though it isn’t built with the apparent precision and integrity of some of its opponents, the Stelvio drives with fine vertical body control, and with rapier steering response that belies its mass and body profile.
It’s a big car to drive as instinctively as a small one, and eyebrow-raisingly fast with it. What it lacks, however, is much of the onboard comfort and ride sophistication that would typically distinguish a luxury SUV. The list of jacked-up family cars that are firmer-riding than this is short indeed.
Having hit the super saloon nail dead centre and perfect with the Giulia Quadrifoglio, Turin has followed up to equally stirring effect here
The SQ7 graduates Audi’s seven-seat luxury SUV to new heights as a driver’s car, with a diesel V8 better suited for the car’s trick chassis than any equivalent petrol engine might have been.
The diesel prerogative does at least keep the SQ7 at arm’s length from powerhouse SUVs such as the Range Rover Sport SVR and Porsche Cayenne Turbo, which is for the best. Because even with the right option boxes ticked, the Audi is no dynamic rival for either. It lacks much in the way of tactile control feedback, and doesn’t particularly invite you to explore its handling limits.
But it’s quieter, cheaper and more efficient than other cars here. It’s also more easy-going and comfortable than most, and it feels more usable too
Credits to Autocar.co.uk