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25 seriously quick SUVs and pick-ups

25 seriously quick SUVs and pick-ups

 

25 seriously quick SUVs and pick-upsUnveiled at the 2018 Paris Motor Show, the Skoda Kodiaq vRS has already claimed a Nürburgring lap record for a seven-seat crossover. A niche achievement, perhaps, but an achievement all the same. With 239hp on tap, it’s the most powerful diesel in Skoda’s history, but it’s no match for the superfast and supersize SUVs in this gallery. Be prepared for an SUV showdown

2017 Audi SQ525 seriously quick SUVs and pick-ups

 

Yes, we’re taking a slightly liberal approach to the term ‘utility’ here, but this is, by definition, still a sports utility vehicle, even if it is quite luxurious. Revealed this year at the Detroit Auto Show, the new Audi SQ5 features a 3.0-litre turbocharged V6, producing 349hp and 369lb ft of torque. That means 0-62mph in 5.4 seconds, plus top speed of 155mph. There’s space for 1,550 litres of luggage with the rear seats down, too.

2018 Jaguar F-Pace SVR25 seriously quick SUVs and pick-ups

Unveiled at the 2018 New York International Auto Show, the Jaguar F-Pace SVR is the Jag SUV we had been waiting for. By dropping the firm’s 5.0-litre supercharged V8 into the F-Pace, Jaguar has created a 550hp SUV capable of hitting a top speed of 176mph, sprinting to 62mph in just 4.3 seconds. All of a sudden, the four-cylinder and V6 F-Pace models seem a little inadequate.

2016 Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine25 seriously quick SUVs and pick-ups

 

The name ‘Twin Engine’ might conjure up ideas of another petrol motor mounted in the boot, but the XC90 is far cleverer than that. Under the bonnet is a 2.0-litre turbocharged and supercharged petrol engine offering up around 315hp to the front wheels. An 86hp electric motor drives the back axle, giving a combined output of 401hp when ‘Power’ mode is engaged. Add in the potential for an official 134.5mpg, and carrying seven people quickly never felt so guilt-free.

2012 Infiniti FX50 Sebastian Vettel Edition

25 seriously quick SUVs and pick-ups

Once upon a time, Infiniti enjoyed almost endless success in Formula 1 with Red Bull Racing and Sebastian Vettel. To celebrate this, it produced a special edition of the FX50 crossover SUV. Power from the 5.0-litre V8 engine was increased to 414hp, with a corresponding 368lb ft of torque. Only 150 were made at a cost of more than £100,000 each. An extravagant carbon fibre rear spoiler was an optional extra.

2018 Maserati Levante Trofeo25 seriously quick SUVs and pick-ups

For some, the concept of Maserati producing an SUV will be a little hard to swallow. But it is a proven route to profitability in the modern car market. Given that Maserati already offers a diesel version of the Ghibli saloon, making an SUV is hardly sacrilege. The Levante Trofeo uses a Ferrari-sourced 3.8-litre V8 engine churning out 590hp and 538lb-ft. That’s 40hp more than the Levante GTS and is perfectly adequate for a Maserati.

2016 Porsche Macan Turbo Performance Package

25 seriously quick SUVs and pick-ups

Named after the Indonesian word for tiger, the Porsche Macan was the second SUV to emerge from the Zuffenhausen-based company. Related to the Audi Q5, but with an even greater slant on speed, the Macan Turbo is top of the performance tree, with 395hp. Tick the box for the Performance Package and you’ll find the output from the 3.6-litre V6 boosted further to 434hp. Using launch control, the top Macan Turbo will fling its way to 62mph in just 4.4 seconds. Perhaps not something to try with kids on-board.

1986 Lamborghini LM00225 seriously quick SUVs and pick-ups

Although it isn’t the most potent in this line up, the LM002 wins the prize for being the craziest SUV ever to roll off a production line. Originally conceived as a military vehicle – it was rejected in favour of the Humvee – Lamborghini also created an insane road-going version. Powered by the 5.2-litre V12 from the Countach supercar, 444hp and 369lb ft of torque meant a top speed of over 130mph was possible – despite a kerb weight of 2,700kg.

2016 BMW X5 M25 seriously quick SUVs and pick-ups

BMW introduced a full-fat M edition of the X5 SUV with the second-generation version in 2009. It wasn’t quite the success Munich intended, so the M division tried harder for the next generation. The 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 engine was tuned to deliver 567hp and 553lb ft of torque, leaving it capable of hitting 60mph in 4.0 seconds. But it’s not the most powerful X5 on this list…

2005 Volkswagen Touareg W12

25 seriously quick SUVs and pick-ups

 

Under the command of Ferdinand Piech, Volkswagen pushed the boundaries in the early 2000s. Along with the Phaeton executive saloon, the Touraeg was part of its move further upmarket. While the V10 TDI is the first-generation Touraeg often most remembered, the 6.0-litre W12 engine – as fitted to the Phaeton and Audi A8 – actually had more power, at 444hp, albeit less torque than the diesel.

2017 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor25 seriously quick SUVs and pick-ups

 

If you need to head cross-country rapidly while hauling big cargo, the SVT Raptor is one of the best ways to do it. The biggest shock for the 2017 Raptor came when its 6.2-litre V8 was ditched for a 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6 engine. Yes, even this most American of machines is not immune from the lure of turbocharging. However, 450hp and 510lb ft of torque mean it outguns the previous V8 version. A 10-speed automatic gearbox is brand new, whilst extensive use of aluminium cuts weight compared to the older truck.

2018 Dodge Durango SRT25 seriously quick SUVs and pick-ups

 

Featuring three rows of seats and a 6.4-litre Hemi V8 engine, the Durango SRT is currently the closest equivalent to a ‘muscle SUV’ available at present. With 475hp and 470lb ft of torque, it can do a burnout with all four wheels, run 0-62mph in 4.4 seconds, and achieve a standing quarter-mile in 12.9 seconds. Yet there is still the potential to tow 3,900kg and haul six passengers. A clear demonstration of sport and utility in one.

2008 Audi Q7 V12 TDI25 seriously quick SUVs and pick-ups

How do you demonstrate the achievements of your Le Mans TDI diesel programme with your flagship SUV? By inserting a 6.0-litre twin-turbocharged V12 under the bonnet. Power was a supercar-rivalling 493hp, while torque was a gigantic 738lb ft. That was sufficient to launch a Q7 TDI weighing 2,635kg from 0-62mph in 5.5 seconds. Thankfully, it also came with sizeable carbon ceramic brake discs.

2005 Dodge Ram SRT-10 Quad Cab25 seriously quick SUVs and pick-ups

The Ram SRT-10 answered a question that nobody really thought to ask: ‘What happens when you take the 8.3-litre V10 from the Viper supercar, and add it to a pick-up truck?’ With 500hp and 525lb ft of torque, power in the Quad Cab version was fed through an antiquated four-speed automatic gearbox. But this was still good enough for 0-60mph in 5.6 seconds, and being able to tow loads up to 3,400kg.

2009 Range Rover Supercharged 5.0 V825 seriously quick SUVs and pick-ups

Although later Range Rovers would have even more power, adding a 5.0-litre supercharged V8 engine to the L322 version moved the luxury SUV deep into performance territory. Shared with contemporary Jaguar XFR and XJR models, the supercharged engine endowed the Range Rover with 503hp and 461lb ft. Despite weighing over 2,500kg, such power meant the full-fat Range Rover could still reach 60mph in 5.5 seconds – and in leather-clad luxury.

2016 Range Rover Sport SVR25 seriously quick SUVs and pick-ups

Combine setting a Nürburgring Nordschleife lap record with the capacity to go off-road in all conditions, and the Range Rover Sport SVR is what you might end up with. The 5.0-litre supercharged V8 is tweaked to make 542hp and 502lb ft of torque, resulting in 0-60mph in just 4.7 seconds on tarmac – and the same sprint in 6.5 seconds on mud! A ’Ring lap of 8 minutes and 14 seconds makes the SVR faster than a Honda Civic Type R or BMW E46 M3 on the fearsome German circuit.

2016 Mercedes-AMG GLS 6325 seriously quick SUVs and pick-ups

 

The second-generation GLS is a big SUV. Very big, in fact. Which means it needs a big motor to live up to the reputation of the AMG badge. Enter a hand-built 5.5-litre bi-turbo V8 with a thumping 549hp and a gut-wrenching 561lb ft of torque. Despite the hefty size, all that twist helps hurl the GLS 63 from 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds and on to a limited 155mph top speed. Nobody needs a £105,000 seven-seat hot rod, but the world is a richer place for it.

2015 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S25 seriously quick SUVs and pick-ups

 

Outrage was the reaction from Porsche purists when the first-generation Cayenne emerged back in 2002. How could the brand abandon the pursuit of sports car perfection to create a monstrous SUV? But if we fast-forward to 2017 the Cayenne accounts for around a third of all Porsches sold, and is credited with having saved the company from bankruptcy. The latest Turbo S version features a 560hp twin-turbo V8, responsible for an eye-popping 0-62mph time of 4.1 seconds and a 176mph top speed.

2016 Bentley Bentayga W1225 seriously quick SUVs and pick-ups

If the Cayenne was controversial, the concept of a Bentley SUV was positively scandalous to some when first announced. The resulting Bentayga was less contentious than the EXP-9F concept, but it’s still a bold and brash luxury SUV. True to Bentley form, it gains a suitable drivetrain in top-specification trim, with an uprated version of the 6.0-litre W12 twin-turbo engine. Power output is a wholesome 600hp, but more impressive is the torque figure of 664lb ft. With a top speed of 187mph and genuine off-road ability, the Bentayga easily lives up to its £161,000 price tag.

2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk25 seriously quick SUVs and pick-ups

The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk: think of it as a Dodge Hellcat in an SUV suit. Thanks to its supercharged 707hp 6.2-litre HEMI V8, the Trackhawk will hit 60mph in 3.5 seconds, with the all-important quarter-mile dash completed in 11.6 seconds. On the track it’ll hit 180mph, and we understand it will also go round corners.

2000 BMW X5 LM25 seriously quick SUVs and pick-ups

We’re cheating a little bit here as the X5 LM was not a true production car. Sorry. Instead it was the result of BMW engineers replacing the regular 4.8-litre V8 engine from the X5 with the 6.0-litre V12 from a Le Mans-winning racer. The S70/2 motorsport engine made a ridiculous 700hp and 531lb ft, endowing the LM with a top speed of 173mph. More impressive was the lap time set at the Nürburgring by ace driver Hans Joachim Stuck: 7 minutes 50 seconds. So while not strictly a road car, the X5 LM is far too impressive to leave off this list.

2018 Tesla Model X P100D25 seriously quick SUVs and pick-ups

Unlike all the other performance utility vehicles on this list, the Model X is unique in being without an internal combustion engine. But that isn’t a barrier to big power. With a 100kWh battery powering all four wheels, a combined output of 762hp and 791lb-ft of torque, it’ll hit 60mph in just 2.9 seconds. It’ll also undertake some light off-roading thanks to adjustable air suspension, and has the option of seven seats.

2011 Hennessy Performance Cadillac Escalade HPE100025 seriously quick SUVs and pick-ups

How much power is too much for an SUV? How about 1,008hp and 967lb ft, as that’s the unfathomable yield Hennessey Performance achieved from the 6.2-litre V8 engine in the Cadillac Escalade. The overhaul is comprehensive, with the addition of twin ball-bearing turbochargers, bespoke exhaust manifolds, custom ECU software and a host of extra modifications. Despite the giant kerb weight of the Escalade, 1,000+hp means it can hit 0-62mph in just 3.3 seconds. With such unassuming looks, this could be the ultimate Q-car.

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio25 seriously quick SUVs and pick-ups

On paper, the idea of a 505hp Alfa Romeo with ‘Stelvio’ and ‘Quadrifoglio’ in its name sounds like a motoring enthusiast’s fantasy. The fact that it’s an SUV will deter some, but there are enough people in the world who will welcome this with open arms. The Ferrari 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged V6 produces a mighty 443lb ft of torque to provide plenty of shove to add to its grunt.

2018 Lamborghini Urus25 seriously quick SUVs and pick-ups

We wrap up our list of superfast SUVs with the Lamborghini Urus and its 650hp 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine. It offers the best power-to-weight ratio in its class, even if it does tip the scales at nearly 2,200kg, hitting 62mph in 3.6 seconds. You might not like it, but the Urus will double Lamborghini sales overnight, securing the future of the more bonkers models you know and love.

Read more:

2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain

2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain review: the alternative to an SUV

Everybody wants a fancy SUV, or so it seems. But can Merc’s new 4×4 estate offer the exact same thing?

20 seriously cool family cars

20 seriously cool family carsBeing practical doesn’t necessarily mean having to give up your street cred. When the time comes to transport a growing family, there are ways and means to resist the slide into blandness. These 20 cars prove that you can achieve domestic bliss, yet still gain envious glances in the supermarket car park.

1982 Peugeot 505 Familiale20 seriously cool family cars

Notable for being Peugeot’s last rear-wheel-drive production car, the 505 was produced in various forms between 1978 and 1999. With more than 1.3 million sold, it must have done something right, but the version we’re interested in is the ‘Familiale’. Introduced at the 1982 Geneva Motor Show, this estate offered seating for up to eight thanks to a folding third-row bench. Oh, and the styling was a collaboration with Pininfarina, which clearly ratchets up the cool points.

1984 Renault Espace20 seriously cool family cars

Often cited as being the first real MPV, the original Espace landed in 1984 after a lengthy and tumultuous gestation period. Designed by Chrysler UK to replace the uncool Talbot Rancho, it then ended up in the hands of PSA Peugeot Citroen. Finally, via Matra, the Espace went on sale badged as a Renault. Its fibreglass body was novel, but customers took time to warm to the radical styling. Today, if you can find one, it would make a suitably leftfield family transporter.

1986 Mercedes-Benz W124 E-Class Estate20 seriously cool family cars

Get ready to tick off the typical Mercedes-Benz list of clichés with the W124 E-Class. Yes, this estate is from the time when Mercedes models were associated with ‘vault-like’ build quality and ‘bulletproof’ reliability. Most significant was the option of seven seats, courtesy of a rear-facing third row that folded flat into the boot floor. This combination of space, plus the ability to rack up galactic mileage, means the W124 wagon still commands strong prices.

1957 Chevrolet Nomad20 seriously cool family cars

Proving that family transportation was cool more than six decades ago, the Nomad was related to the iconic Chevy Bel Air. Featuring a two-door shooting brake design with a split two-piece tailgate, the Nomad offered practicality and good looks. For 1957, it gained the option of the wondrously named ‘Super Turbo Fire V8’ with 283hp from this cutting-edge fuel-injected engine. Only sold for three years, you’ll need at least $45,000 (£35,000) to rock this retro-cool look.

1959 Ford Country Squire20 seriously cool family cars

Proving that car manufacturers were doing ‘lifestyle’ photoshoots long before the Lycra-clad 1990s, it’s the 1959 Ford Country Squire. This particular car featured push-button lifestyle accessories, with a roof-mounted boat that flipped over to reveal a tent beneath. There was even an electric fridge in the boot. The Country Squire soldiered on as part of the Ford range until 1990 when America fell out of love with the station wagon. In case you’re wondering, the woodgrain trim was fake – and had been since 1953.

1991 Jeep Grand Wagoneer20 seriously cool family cars

Another car guilty of the fake veneer treatment was one that can legitimately claim to be the first premium SUV. Introduced in 1963 by the Kaiser Jeep Corporation, the Wagoneer had an upmarket interior that set it apart from other 4×4 models at the time. By 1991, and under the control of Chrysler, the last few Grand Wagoneers were even more luxurious and better equipped. Accordingly, they attract premium prices from collectors.

2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk20 seriously cool family cars

Jeep hasn’t forgotten how to produce cool family machines since the Wagoneer, although the brand-new Trackhawk is desirable for slightly different reasons. Taking the 707hp 6.2-litre supercharged V8 engine from the Dodge Challenger Hellcat and mating it to a 4WD system means 0-60mph in 3.5 seconds. Top speed is an equally ridiculous 180mph.Plus, you can set the suspension and gearbox to ‘Track mode’ should you want to get impress at the race circuit. Sick bags don’t appear on the options list, but at least the leather upholstery will be wipe-clean.

1998 Toyota Land Cruiser Amazon20 seriously cool family cars

Cool doesn’t necessarily mean fast or stylish. In fact, for family transport, automotive chic can be as simple as dependability in the most extreme situations. With a lineage that stretches back to 1951, the Land Cruiser has built a reputation for reliability and trustworthiness. Just ask Land Rover what it did for their export sales in places like Australia. The J100 Amazon, introduced in 1998, could be had with a 4.7-litre V8 engine, and offers a sense of quiet confidence when tackling the school run.

2000 Volkswagen Sharan 2.8 VR620 seriously cool family cars

Much like this decade has been defined by the SUV, the 1990s were the era of the MPV. Offerings like the Sharan – and its Ford Galaxy/SEAT Alhambra sisters – were the answer to almost every family problem. Even the need to drive a seven-seater MPV, with a 2.8-litre 201hp narrow-angle V6 engine, was covered. Picking the VR6 still only meant 0-60mph in 10.6 seconds, but fuel economy dropped to a faintly ridiculous 22mpg. A small price to pay for transporting your kids with a six-cylinder soundtrack?

2001 Vauxhall Zafira GSi20 seriously cool family cars

The first-generation Zafira suffers from something of an image problem, perhaps not helped by Vauxhall’s TV adverts with Griff Rhys Jones. But in 2001, Vauxhall launched the sporty GSi version, with a 189hp turbocharged 2.0-litre engine from the Astra. A 0-60mph sprint of 7.5 seconds, combined with relatively subtle styling, make this something of a Q-car. If you can cope with the badge snobbery…

2006 SEAT Altea FR TFSI20 seriously cool family cars

Rarer and even more random than the Zafira, the Altea FR TFSI offers a fleeting chance that buying a compact MPV doesn’t mean giving up completely. Not only does it feature styling by Walter de Silva – he of Alfa Romeo 156 fame – but the FR had the option of a 197hp 2.0-litre TFSI engine. That’s the very same engine that powered the Mk5 Golf GTI, to much acclaim from journalists and enthusiasts alike. FR spec also means sports suspension, meaning this Altea handles better than you might imagine.

2006 Ford S-Max 2.5 Titanium20 seriously cool family cars

However, the title of ultimate performance MPV must go to the original Ford S-Max. Using the 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine from the Focus ST, its 216hp output means 0-60mph in 7.4 seconds and top speed of 143mph. Add a five-cylinder warble, seven seats and impressive handling, and the S-Max becomes quite a desirable package. It also proved popular with numerous police forces, adding an extra layer of coolness.

1995 Volvo 850 T-5R

20 seriously cool family cars

Also beloved of the constabulary, the 850 T-5R was a worrying presence in the rear-view mirror of many motorway drivers. Created as Volvo went through a period of reinvention, the T-5R was a limited edition that used a 245hp 2.3-litre turbocharged engine. Although offered in estate and saloon body styles, the wagon was infinitely cooler – not least because of the 850 estate campaigned in the British Touring Car Championship.

2005 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX Wagon20 seriously cool family cars

Not officially sold outside of Japan, and created in limited numbers, the Evo IX Wagon is an opportunity to transport your family in a unique machine. Only 2,500 were built, melding the Evo IX saloon chassis to bodywork from the regular Lancer estate, with extensive additional welding and strengthening. Power was unchanged at 276hp, as was the full-time 4WD system with active centre differential. Tracking down an import might not be easy, but will be worth it.

2006 Audi B7 RS4 Avant20 seriously cool family cars

Flared wheelarches, Audi build quality and a 4.2-litre V8 engine that also saw service in the original R8 supercar. Not a bad place to start for a five-door estate, and such qualities made the RS4 a genuine challenger to the BMW M3. A rear-biased Quattro drivetrain offered slip and security in equal measure, while 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds is more than fast enough for a family wagon.

2007 BMW E60 M5 Touring20 seriously cool family cars

In the early 2000s, BMW established a reputation for building the most powerful V10 engines in Formula 1. Although they never took a World Championship against a dominant Ferrari team, BMW still won plaudits for its 10-cylinder powerplant. Seeking to capitalise on this, it equipped the E60 M5 with a 5.0-litre V10 producing 500hp. A semi-automatic gearbox allowed drivers to live out their inner Juan Pablo Montoya fantasies, with launch control offering lightning-fast getaways from a standing start. Today it looks almost subtle but, to those in the know, this is an achingly cool machine.

2017 SEAT Leon ST Cupra 30020 seriously cool family cars

Despite the love for crossovers and SUVs, compact estate cars have seen a renaissance in recent years. The SEAT Leon ST has proven to be very popular, not least because of striking good looks, strong equipment levels and decent value. Top of the tree is the Cupra 300, which makes, as the name suggests, 300hp from its 2.0-litre turbo engine. Consider the Cupra 300 a cut-price version of the Golf R Estate and it makes a surprising amount of sense, with even the option of 4WD on the cards.

2004 Subaru Forester STi20 seriously cool family cars

If 4WD really is a necessity for your family needs, how about another import-only Japanese creation? With the 2.5-litre flat-four boxer engine from the Impreza WRX STi, this second-generation Forester made 265hp. That’s good enough for 0-62mph in around 5.0 seconds, with Brembo brakes and tuned suspension to keep everything in check. Fuel economy might not be family-friendly, at 25mpg or less, but just remind yourself that you’re buying a practical estate with rally pedigree.

2016 Audi RS Q3 Performance20 seriously cool family cars

Should you want retro-rally ancestry in your family car, the RS Q3 could be the choice for you. The five-cylinder turbocharged engine sounds like those used in the wild Group B Quattro rally cars of the 1980s, even if the RS Q3 has to make to do with only 362hp. Performance specification brings cool-looking titanium alloy wheels and blue Alcantara seats. But ultimately you’re buying it for the noise made by the giant oval tailpipe.

2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI five-door20 seriously cool family cars

If a hot hatch is meant to be all things to all people, the Golf GTI is surely the ultimate expression of that. It’s classless yet classy, desirable but affordable, and as practical as a regular Golf hatchback. Does family motoring get cooler than this? The latest GTI is an absolute corker, with 230hp on tap from its 2.0-litre turbo motor. Make sure you keep it five-door and you’ll have a car that’s as usable as any normal family hatchback, but with a badge that truly means something.

New SUVs and crossovers launched at Geneva

New SUVs and crossovers revealed at Geneva

New SUVs and crossovers launched at GenevaWhether they are new cars ready for launch, concepts offering a vision of what’s to come or updates of current models, SUVs and crossovers are everywhere at Geneva 2017.

Arguably, Jaguar and Land Rover have the hottest stands at the show, with the world premiere of the Range Rover Velar and the first sighting in Europe of Jaguar’s revolutionary all-electric SUV concept: the I-Pace.

If it’s luxury you’re after, look no further than the most opulent version of the Bentley Bentayga, or the monster that is the Mercedes-Maybach G65 4×4 Landaulet. There really is something for everyone at the Geneva Motor Show.

Nissan QashqaiNew SUVs and crossovers launched at Geneva

Europe’s most popular crossover just had a facelift. Due to hit UK roads later this year, the Nissan Qashqai now sports a V-shaped grille at the front, along with new bumper and headlamp designs, plus a reshaped bonnet.

The new Qashqai doesn’t just look better, it has more of a quality feel. Propilot autonomous driving tech gives it the ability to steer, accelerate and brake itself within a single lane on motorways.

Volkswagen Tiguan AllspaceNew SUVs and crossovers launched at Geneva

VW’s acclaimed Tiguan has grown into a full seven-seater. On sale in the UK this summer, there’s an extra row of seats, thanks to 109mm added to the wheelbase – stretching the car by 215mm overall.

Despite the stretch, the Tiguan Allspace doesn’t look out of proportion. What’s more, it now boasts 760 litres of luggage capacity (up 140 litres) with the front two rows of seats in place. With all the rear seats down, there’s a van-like 1,920 litres available.

Bentley Bentayga MullinerNew SUVs and crossovers launched at Geneva

Meet the new Bentley Bentayga Mulliner: “the most exquisitely appointed luxury SUV ever created”. Bentley’s in-house bespoke division, Mulliner, has given the Bentayga a makeover to create a range-topping, uber-sumptuous sports utility vehicle.

High-end features on the Bentley Bentayga Mulliner include ‘Duo Tone’ paintwork, Mulliner 22-inch Paragon seven-spoke wheels with floating centres, a bespoke Mulliner bottle cooler, exclusive Ombré burr walnut veneer, plus ‘My Mood’, which allows occupants to choose from 15 different interior lighting colours, while also adjusting the brightness in doors, armrests and footwells.

Vauxhall Crossland XNew SUVs and crossovers launched at Geneva

A world premiere for the latest crossover from Vauxhall/Opel, which is now part of PSA Europe (Peugeot-Citroen). Effectively replacing the Meriva MPV, it will slot below the Mokka X in terms of size and price.

Billed as an urban crossover, rather than an SUV, Vauxhall reckons the Crosland X “has a firm family focus, with a Tardifs-like cabin providing high degrees of practicality and flexibility”.

Range Rover VelarNew SUVs and crossovers launched at Geneva

The sleek Velar is Geneva’s SUV star. Slotting into the Range Rover line-up between the Evoque and Sport, it’s an obvious rival to the Porsche Macan. And indeed its cousin, the Jaguar F-Pace.

Priced from £44,830 to £85,450, the British-built Range Rover Velar will go on sale from July in the UK and more than 170 markets worldwide. Combining Land Rover’s legendary all-terrain ability with an upmarket cabin and lashings of tech, it promises to be the most driver-focused Range Rover ever.

Subaru XVNew SUVs and crossovers launched at Geneva

The wraps are off Subaru’s next generation XV, which is due to go on sale in the UK early in 2018. Looking like an evolution of the current car, it’s certainly more appealing to the eye and should bring the model into the mainstream.

Built on a new global platform, just like the new Impreza, Subaru claims the XV will have significantly enhanced refinement, safety, ride comfort, and agility. Needless to say, symmetrical four-wheel drive will be standard on all models.

Mitsubishi Eclipse CrossNew SUVs and crossovers launched at Geneva

Plugging a gap between the ASX and Outlander, Mitsubishi’s new Qashqai-rival doesn’t look as flash as the teased design studies suggested, but it will freshen up the Japanese company’s range.

With its distinctive, wedged profile, the Eclipse Cross will certainly stand out when it hits UK roads early in 2018. Its most unusual design element is at the back, where a high-mounted strip of rear lamps divides the upper and lower segments of the rear window.

Jaguar I-PaceNew SUVs and crossovers launched at Geneva

A European premiere for Jaguar’s all-electric SUV concept – now in vibrant Photon Red. The I-Pace isn’t due to go on sale in the UK until 2018, but this show car looks pretty much ready for production.

The I-Pace’s looks seem to divide opinion, but there’s no doubting that it stands out from the crowd – those massive 23-inch wheels are something else. Two electric motors, producing a combined 400hp, power the car, allowing it to sprint to 62mph in around four seconds, with a claimed range of 300 miles.

Mercedes-Maybach G65 4×4² LandauletNew SUVs and crossovers launched at Geneva

Mercedes-Benz is giving Range Rover and Bentley something to think about with its ultra-luxurious all-terrain Mercedes-Maybach SUV – a landaulet version of the legendary G-Wagen. In other words, a covered cab with a retractable fabric roof at the back.

Powered by a new twin-turbo 6.0-litre V12, the Landaulet is likely to become the world’s most expensive sport utility vehicle, with a rumoured price of around £400,000. Just 99 will be built, but sadly this opulent monster is not due to be sold in the UK. For the record, it is 5.3m long, 2.2m tall and has more than half a metre of ground clearance.

Audi Q8 Sport ConceptNew SUVs and crossovers launched at Geneva

Based on the Q8 Concept first revealed at the Detroit Motor Show in January 2017, the Q8 Sport Concept is more sporty – and very orange. It combines a 3.0-litre V6 and a mild hybrid system (a world first) that enables it to deliver a handy 476hp “with the efficiency of a four-cylinder”.

Perhaps the most obvious visual change is that Audi’s signature ‘singleframe’ grille design has ditched the vertical bars and horizontal slats for a more pleasing honeycomb design. Capable of 0-62mph in just 4.7 seconds, it has a top speed of 170mph.

Skoda Kodiaq ScoutNew SUVs and crossovers launched at Geneva

A rugged version of the Skoda Kodiaq has been unveiled at Geneva. With seating for up to seven and the largest interior and boot space in its class, the Scout also boasts off-road ability thanks to all-wheel drive, hill-hold and hill-descent control, plus a ground clearance of 194mm.

Apart from its slightly raised ride height, the Scout looks pretty similar to the standard Kodiaq, with only tinted windows, silver colour details and special 19-inch-alloy wheels emphasising the visual differences.

SsangYong XAVLNew SUVs and crossovers launched at Geneva

South Korean brand SsangYong has previewed its XAVL seven-seater SUV concept at Geneva. An eventual rival to the Land Rover Discovery, Kia Sorento and Hyundai Sante Fe, its awkward moniker is derived from “eXciting Authentic Vehicle Long SUV”.

The angular show car looks like a work in progress, or a larger, less attractive version of SsangYong’s Tivoli. Inside, there’s plenty of connectivity, while a 10.25-inch infotainment screen dominates the centre console. Expect to see the final version on the road by 2020.

Citroen C-Aircross ConceptNew SUVs and crossovers launched at Geneva

Citroen’s new SUV concept looks like an overgrown C3 and is expected to appear in showrooms as soon as 2018. Effectively replacing the C3 Picasso in the line-up, it will take on the likes of the Nissan Juke, Renault Captur and Audi Q2 in the highly-competitive compact crossover category.

Rear-hinged rear passenger doors are a stand-out feature on Citroen’s concept, though it has to manage with just three Airbumps on each side. A 12-inch touchscreen dominates the centre console, while the C-Aircross also makes use of Grip Control for extra traction when soft-roading.

Volvo XC60New SUVs and crossovers launched at Geneva

The long-awaited next-generation XC60 crossover takes a bow at Geneva. It’s a good-looking car that pays homage to its best-selling predecessor, while sharing many design cues with its big brother, the XC90.

Naturally, the new XC60 will be one of the safest cars ever, so it’s packed with tech. However, just like the XC90, there will be a T8 Twin Engine petrol plug-in hybrid version capable of reaching 62mph from standstill in just 5.3 seconds.

DS7 CrossbackNew SUVs and crossovers launched at Geneva

The first SUV from DS could be the car that gets the till ringing for Peugeot-Citroen’s standalone premium brand. Just as the F-Pace has accelerated Jaguar sales, the stylish DS7 Crossback should put DS on the map.

Rivalling established SUVs such as the Range Rover Evoque and Audi Q3, the spacious DS7 Crossback is fully connected and packed with tech. The interior is dominated by two 12-inch touchscreen displays. Outside, the front of the car features a dramatic diamond-effect grille and distinctive jewel-like LED headlights.

Mazda CX-5New SUVs and crossovers launched at Geneva

First revealed at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show, Mazda’s next-generation CX-5 makes its European debut at Geneva. Always a good-looking crossover, the new model is now longer, lower and sexier.

The CX-5 is hugely important to Mazda. Not only is it the company’s best-selling model in Europe, it’s also sold in more than 120 countries and represents around a quarter of Mazda’s global sales. The new model delivers “responsive performance” while also “prioritising passenger comfort”.

Renault CapturNew SUVs and crossovers launched at Geneva

Renault’s best-selling compact crossover gets a welcome mid-life makeover inside and out. The most notable exterior change is the updated front end, which is now similar to its big brother, the Kadjar. There are also new skid plates, front and rear, plus three new wheel options.

Three new colours now join the updated Captur’s palette, meaning that 36 different combinations are now available. The new Captur, which goes on sale in the UK this summer, looks especially good with two-tone paint and a fixed glass roof.

2017 Land Rover Discovery

2017 Land Rover Discovery review: why the Range Rover should be worried

2017 Land Rover Discovery

2017 Land Rover Discovery

Meet the car set to be another smash-hit for Land Rover: the 2017 Discovery. Replacing the strikingly aged Discovery 4, this new Discovery (there’s no ‘5’ in the name) is an out-with-the-old reinvention.

It has a fancy new aluminium platform, which cuts almost half a tonne from the kerbweight. There’s more space than ever, and more off-road ability than ever. And most notably, sleek new styling that takes the Discovery into Range Rover territory. There’s a lot to discover.

What is the 2017 Land Rover Discovery?

Land Rover has comprehensively rethought the Discovery because it wants to take on the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90: something the utilitarian Discovery 4 increasingly was unable to do. Customers want more premium machines in this sector, it says, proven by the big sales lift when the rugged Discovery 3 turned into the posher Discovery 4. This is, by some margin, an acceleration of that process.

So plenty has changed here, then?

Sit the new Discovery alongside the old one and they appear several generations apart, not one. Lego-brick look becomes swish and sleek. Your first impressions are not of Discovery, but of Range Rover. Not without basis, either – it’s now based on the same platform as a Range Rover.

What, so it’s basically a Range Rover underneath?

2017 Land Rover Discovery

2017 Land Rover Discovery

You bet. The same aluminium architecture used by the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport is now employed here. This is 480kg lighter, taking the Disco to just over 2.1 tonnes – 20% less than before. It’s a monocoque design, so should feel much tighter and sharper on road, but Land Rover insists off-road ability has been enhanced, not lost. All it lacks is the expensive anti-roll and dynamic handling tech of a Range Rover. That’s why you buy a Range Rover Sport, it says.

Uh-huh. This sounds like it could be expensive. Have prices rocketed?

This is the interesting bit. In run-out spec, the old Discovery cost from £47,500. Lead-in price for the new one is LOWER – from £43,495. This could be the story of the century, particularly when an Audi Q7 barely scrapes in under £50k. Well, partly. That basic Discovery is now a 2.0-litre turbodiesel; the V6 diesel costs from £50,995, level-pegging a Q7. Even so, this sophisticated new Disco is anything but wildly priced, perhaps explaining why Land Rover already has over 20,000 pre-orders for it.

What are your first impressions?

Time for a first look on the global model launch in Utah. And how the Discovery has evolved. Following the look of the Discovery Sport, it has a sleek nose, beautifully-profiled sides and strong, clean feature lines. It’s curvaceous where the old one was shed-like. Panel fit is super-precise, giving it a hewn-from-solid look. It’s rich and expensive-looking. Yes, it’s more Range Rover than ever.

But is it still an authentic Discovery?

2017 Land Rover Discovery

2017 Land Rover Discovery

No, it’s not the blocky Discovery of yore. It was never going to be: that was a car 12 years old, says Discovery engineering chief Nick Collins. Everything has moved on and Land Rover was never going to make a retro Disco. There are Discovery cues, sure – the reverse-rake C-pillar, the step in the roof – but we’ll simply have to accept the Discovery is now a premium car like an Audi, not a rugged-look off-roader. Again, sales have proven this is exactly what customers want.

How does Land Rover define Discovery, then?

Land Rover argues the Discovery has never really been about being a pure, rugged 4×4. At launch in 1989, the genius of it was being a more car-like, an incredibly versatile family-friendly machine for those new to the brand – people scared off by the tough Defender or expensive Range Rover. This has perhaps been forgotten over the years as the car has aged, so the firm believes this one resets it and takes the Discovery back to what it originally set out to do – just with the flash, fancy finishes modern premium buyers expect.

Will you mistake it for a Range Rover?

You might do at first, before you get familiar with it. It looks posh and very modern, with lots of concept car cues. The tail lamps, horizontal instead of vertical, are lovely, while the headlights’ LED running lights look super-modern. The more we saw it, the more we thought it looks fantastic. But it’s Range Rovers you’ll be confusing it with, not old Discoverys. Same goes inside…

First impressions inside?

2017 Land Rover Discovery

2017 Land Rover Discovery

The interior is outstanding. All high-end finish, clean leather-covered surfaces and smooth detailing, it’s maybe the most instantly-appealing interior Land Rover offers. The finishes are smart, with features such as inlaid wood and metal, but not indulgent like a Range Rover. It’s ‘modern premium’, and very well executed. Think clean, Swedish-style design, with added Land Rover character.

This might be a silly question, but is the new Discovery big inside?

It’s enormous inside. Land Rover makes a big play on designing its vehicles from the inside out. The Discovery is big on the road, five metres long, wide and tall, but also massive on the inside. Adults feel almost child-sized up front, have limo-like room in the middle row and can even sit comfortably in the third row. Someone on the engineering team is 6ft 4ins and is fine in the seven-seat Discovery, we were told. He was squashed and had his head shoved into the roof when they tested Q7 and XC90. See: that stepped roof IS still functional.

Visibility is also excellent, as it should be in a Discovery. You sit high, the windscreen is deep, side windows are deep, the wide windowledge to rest your arm on remains: it’s very feel-good. Those in the back have big windows as well, while stadium seating still sits them progressively higher up as you go back – great for reducing travel sickness, reckons Land Rover. 

Let’s get rolling. What is the 2017 Land Rover Discovery like to drive?

The bit we’ve been waiting for. The first miles behind the wheel of a new Discovery, equipped with the classy TD6 engine. Start it up: the alarming agricultural clatter of before is gone. Pull away and it seems crisper, less lazy, lighter on its toes. The steering is transformed, from slow, heavy and spongy to light, direct and responsive (it’s the same system as a Range Rover Sport). And with standard air suspension, the cushioned ride immediately begins to cosset.

The new Discovery wafts along then?

2017 Land Rover Discovery

2017 Land Rover Discovery

If you’re used to the old model, this new Discovery will feel like, well, a Range Rover. It’s certainly as quiet as one, say Land Rover test figures, and glides along in beautiful wafting luxury. The engine barely murmurs, bumps are soaked up quietly, yet while it impersonates a magic carpet, it doesn’t wallow like the old one could.

Sounds nice. And in corners?

Naturally, this softness will mean it leans in corners. You buy a Range Rover Sport to defy logic there. But it still drives tidily and accurately, with little of the heaving heaviness of the old one. The biggest transformation is, again, the steering, which is immeasurably more precise. Positively weighted just off centre, it’s less than three turns lock-to-lock, so you no longer need armfuls to handle a Disco, and can point it with far less effort. It’s decently precise as well.

It all sounds so lovely, I’m now worried about what it’s like off road

Land Rover knows the Discovery has gone posh, and doesn’t look like it will be as good as before off-road. But it is, and then some. A total of 283mm of ground clearance, 500mm wheel articulation and 900mm wading depth are all class-leading and better than before. A mass of 4×4 tech, including surface-sensing Terrain Response 2, gives it the legs to tackle any surface.

It’s good on the rough stuff, then?

2017 Land Rover Discovery

2017 Land Rover Discovery

Anything the old Discovery 4 could do off-road, the new Discovery can do better. Climb across rocks, charge through sand, monster hills – it’s amazingly accomplished. But more refined, easier to drive and less effort than before as well. You might hesitate to take your posh new Disco across such terrains, but it’s more than up for it. Relief: the Discovery hasn’t gone soft. It remains an authentic Land Rover off-road.

What about the famed Discovery practicality?

Land Rover is super-chuffed with the new Discovery’s versatility. You can store four iPads in the front centre console, and there are little tablet pockets in the front seat-backs. The box between the front seats is a fridge big enough to house glug-sized bottles. Behind the climate control panel is a secret stowage box. Rear passengers get their own stowage cubbies. The dual glovebox has been retained. And there’s more…

The Discovery split tailgate is gone!

Mourn the demise of the split tailgate. But the massive single-piece tailgate is clever in its own right. It electric-opens to reveal a humungous load area for one thing; even in seven-seat format, it has a 258-litre boot, not far shy of a Ford Fiesta. Also, an electric fold-down panel has been added on to mimic the split tailgate. You can sit on it, or use it to slide in heavy items. Get over the cool factor of the old tailgate and this is certainly easier. Even if, visually, its asymmetric design still takes some getting used to.

Does it have clever seats?

2017 Land Rover Discovery

2017 Land Rover Discovery

Much has been made of the Discovery’s electric-fold seats, and justifiably so. They’re ingenious. From a panel in the boot, you can electric-fold the seats down in 14 seconds. This control pack also lets you raise and lower the back of the Disco at the press of a button (it’s fun supermarket car park theatre). Land Rover says you can also adjust the seats via the touchscreen and via the much-promoted smartphone app. We thought they were a gimmick but, on first use, they’re actually really cool.

What’s the infotainment like?

Infotainment is chronic in the old Discovery. This new one, with a widescreen 10in InControl Touch Pro screen, is night-and-day better. It looks good, is easy to use and is multi-layered with features and functionality. The only obvious omission is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; Land Rover insists the system’s app-laden functionality is just as good.

Verdict: 2017 Land Rover Discovery

The new 2017 Land Rover Discovery is a car that’s hard to fault. It has bought Discovery bang up to date, giving it step-on new levels of refinement, ease of driving, premium appeal and overall ability. But it’s also enhanced the things Land Rover says is Discovery DNA – the versatility, practicality, off-road ability. Some will have to press the reset button, and get used to the fact the Land Rover Discovery is now a genuine Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90 rival. But do so and they’ll discover this is a seriously accomplished all-rounder that’s turned into exactly the sort of machine we’d hoped it would. On first evidence, it’s an unqualified bravo, Land Rover.

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Ford Edge

2016 Ford Edge review: what the heck is it?

Ford EdgeFord will already happily sell you a couple of SUVs, the Indian-built EcoSport and the somewhat nicer Kuga. If you thought that covered the bases of what Ford might reasonably achieve, you’ve overlooked an important point. Ford wants a slice of the Audi Q5’s pie. Ambitious? Maybe.

More reasonably, there are other contenders here: notably the Koreans in the shape of the Hyundai Santa Fe and the Kia Sorento. Ford’s Edge may lack their seven seats, but it’s a tougher, broader-shouldered beast that packs its American-inspired punch rather impressively.

The Edge comes to the UK from North America, which, with the high profile of the new Mustang, gives it some leverage. Ford needs to expand its SUV range in Europe. The outstanding success of these vehicles means they now account for a quarter of all new cars sold, and their popularity keeps on climbing.

So what you get here is a £30k-£40k five-seater that’s big as a Volkswagen Touareg, but hides its bulk in a more elegantly styled body. Space is a key selling point – there’s lots of it – but so too is the fact that the Edge is a fully committed 4×4.

You are buying into the off-road image here, so there are no namby-pamby front-wheel-drive models to save a couple of thousand on the purchase price, and a few grams of CO2 to the atmosphere.

Ford EdgeDo you even care about driving off-road?

The statistics say it’s unlikely you do, but the Edge has the ability to make you feel good if you need to tackle a wet field or sandy track. It does that mild off-road thing with confidence, although as soon as it gets bumpy you’ll get shaken and stirred inside the cabin and want to head for some smooth Tarmac.

The Edge is really about comfortable cruising, with the extra reassurance of all-wheel-drive, or AWD as Ford calls it. Most of the time, most of power is directed to the front wheels, with rear-wheel drive jumping in only when it’s needed.

That’s the way of the world with SUVs and crossovers these days, because only driving two wheels reduces fuel consumption and CO2.

Ford EdgeSo this Ford Edge is clean and green?

Well, sort of. If ultra-low CO2 is important to you, the Edge counts itself out. With the numbers only just nudging under 150g/km, it may be average for a 4×4 of this size, but it’s some way up the company car benefits scale.

The economy, inextricably linked to CO2, is around 48mpg for manual and automatic, according to the daft statutory tests. Reckon on 40mpg on a good day and you won’t be disappointed.

Ford EdgeWhy no choice of engines?

The power is from a diesel, obviously. You can’t sell a car like this with a petrol engine unless it has a Porsche or Range Rover badge. It’s a 2.0-litre with plenty of oomph: 180hp with the manual gearbox, 210hp if you opt for the six-speed auto.

The car’s weight – just shy of two tonnes – precludes a smaller diesel, and Ford doesn’t have anything bigger in its stable. But that really shouldn’t worry you. Today, performance is all about tuning smaller engines, rather than using the large capacity lumps of yesterday.

The Edge performs satisfactorily in nearly every circumstance, although it does get a bit loud when you demand full power moving into the outside lane of the motorway. At other times it’s an easy car to drive, particularly the automatic (the gearlever on the manual cars is a bit awkward).

Ford EdgeEasy to drive? What about its much-vaunted size?

That is an issue. The length and height are not the problem, but the width might be. The Edge feels like a very wide car, and what gives it so much presence on the road can be intimidating in places where you’d simply slip through in a Ford Kuga.

The upside is interior space, which really is deeply impressive. There’s shoulder room aplenty, while rear legroom is gargantuan. Recline the rear seat and you could sleep from London to Leeds.

The Edge’s length also means that it has a generous boot capacity of 602 litres, and that’s with a space-saver spare wheel under the floor.

The divided rear seats fold flat at the touch of a button from the boot area, but lifting them back into place is a herculean job. The springs that help flip the seat forward need to be fought when pushing it back up. Some muddled thinking here from Ford.

The Titanium and Sport models come with a hands-free tailgate – with the key in your pocket you simply wave your foot under the back bumper.

Ford EdgeYes, but it’s a Ford, not an Audi, so the quality will let it down

Not true. According to Which? Ford and Audi reliability is as close as it could get. As for the touchy-feely bits inside, well, the Audi Q5 does feel more premium, but Ford keeps on getting better and what you have here is really rather good.

And you might forsake some of the German glitz because the Ford Edge comes packed with equipment that would make the equivalent Audi the thick end of £10,000 more expensive. Rear-view camera, front and rear parking sensors, hands-free tailgate, navigation, heated seats, DAB radio, keyless start, privacy glass and ‘active noise control’ are standard on the Titanium version. The £2,000 Lux pack adds leather, heated rear seats, power memory front seats and a panoramic roof.

The Edge is comfortable too, the large front seats providing a layer of plushness with an underlying level of support. The ride is quite acceptable in an SUV sense; that is, it’s firm but comfortable nearly all of the time.

Sport models get ‘adaptive’ steering, which varies the weighting according to road speed. It’s an acquired taste and you may well prefer the regular steering fitted to the Edge Zetec and Titanium.

Ford Edge2016 Ford Edge: early verdict

First impressions of the Edge are positive. While it lacks seven seats, that’s not that unusual if you look at the rivals like the Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes GLS and Volvo XC60. These are all significantly more expensive yet also offer only five seats.

The two rivals from Korea, Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento, do offer a great capacity but fall short of the Ford’s panache – both worthy but ultimately dull.

The Edge is far from that. Stylish, aggressive even, it’s no utilitarian wagon, even though under the skin it offers great practicality. The space, interior design and pleasing driving characteristics all give it significant appeal.

If you drive a Ford Galaxy, S-Max or indeed any other large people carrier but don’t need the full seating capacity, Ford’s Edge could bring a lot more fun into your life.

For:

  • Extremely roomy
  • Good value for the specification
  • Seems nicely built

Against:

  • It’s a bit wide
  • Some rivals offer seven seats
  • Does it have the badge you are looking for?

2016 Ford Edge Titanium Powershift auto: specification

Price (from): £29,995

Engine: 2.0-litre turbodiesel

Gearbox: 6-speed auto

Power: 210hp

Torque: 332lb ft

0-62mph: 9.4 seconds

Top speed: 131mph

Fuel economy: 48.7mpg

CO2 emissions: 149g/km

Best used crossovers and SUVs

Best used crossovers and SUVs for £10,000

Best used crossovers and SUVsYou want a crossover or SUV and have £10,000 to spend – what are your options? We’ve selected 10 of our favourites for you to consider, including everything from a much-loved Skoda to a legendary Land Rover.

Best used crossovers and SUVsSkoda Yeti

We make no apology for leading with the Skoda Yeti, because it remains one of our favourite crossovers at any price. It offers a strong blend of economy, driving dynamics and practically and can boast a legion of loyal and satisfied customers. The £10,000 budget should stretch to a good, pre-facelift 2013 Yeti.

Best used crossovers and SUVsNissan Qashqai

The £10,000 budget won’t quite stretch to a second generation Nissan Qashqai, but you shouldn’t rule out the original. Introduced back in 2007, the Qashqai spawned a string of imitators, but it remains Britain’s most popular crossover. There are plenty out there, so you can afford to be choosy. Opt for the diesel engines for the ultimate blend of punch and economy.

Best used crossovers and SUVsSuzuki SX4 S-Cross

Suzuki’s Qashqai rival has been eclipsed by the newer and superior Vitara, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. The SX4 S-Cross is based on the Swift supermini, meaning it’s pretty good to drive. What’s more, we’ve seen 2014 and even 2015 models available within the £10,000 budget.

Best used crossovers and SUVsKia Sportage

The previous generation Kia Sportage is one of the slowest depreciating cars in the UK, largely thanks to its blend of kit, space and seven-year warranty. For our budget, grab yourself a low mileage and well-equipped 2010 or 2011 car and enjoy what’s left of Kia’s acclaimed warranty.

Best used crossovers and SUVsHonda CR-V

The Honda CR-V offers a large boot and a 40:20:40-split rear seat, so if practicality is your thing, this could be the car for you. The 2.2-litre diesel engine manages to combine performance and economy, while the CR-V offers the dynamics that might seem alien to drivers of other SUVs. Also, it’s a Honda, so reliability should be guaranteed.

Best used crossovers and SUVsFord Kuga

The Ford Kuga is based on the Focus, so if good handling tops your list of priorities, this could be the crossover for you. Though the load capacity is smaller than the Focus, the split-tailgate should be useful. The revised Kuga, introduced in 2012, provides an extra 82 litres of boot space.

Best used crossovers and SUVsCitroen C4 Cactus

One-year-old cars are just creeping below the £10,000 mark, so while you might not have the pick of the Cactus crop, you will have one of the freshest faces in the crossover sector. The 1.6-litre BlueHDi diesel engine offers super-frugal running costs and the best compromise if you intend to cover long distances.

Best used crossovers and SUVsSubaru Forester

For years, the Subaru Forester has been the default choice for those looking to combine on-road dynamics and off-road ability. Ignore those who tell you the interior is a tad dated, because these things are built to last and owners swear by them.

Best used crossovers and SUVsVolkswagen Touareg

Sitting somewhere between the likes of the BMW X5 and more mainstream rivals, the Volkswagen Touareg is a full-fat SUV. It was developed alongside the Porsche Cayenne and offers a feeling of quality and refinement. As good off the road as it is on it.

Best used crossovers and SUVs

Nissan Juke

The Juke followed in the footsteps of the Nissan Qashqai to become one of Britain’s favourite crossovers. Though it has been eclipsed by more modern rivals, it remains as popular as ever, largely thanks to its exterior styling, unique interior and excellent value for money.

 

Mercedes-Benz GLS review: 2015 first drive

Mercedes-Benz GLSIf the Range Rover is the S-Class of SUVs, where is the Mercedes-Benz alternative? Up to now, it’s been unclear. The GL-Class seven-seat SUV was launched in 2006 (this second generation arrived in 2012) as the largest, most premium SUV in the Mercedes range. And in key markets such as the US, it has sold well.

But it has never quite carried range-topper status here. It’s a big ML-Class, rather than an off-road SUV. So Mercedes has had a rethink. It’s renamed all its SUVs to tie them into the passenger car ranges they fit into: GLC is the SUV C-Class and GLE is the 4×4 E-Class.

So, the GL becomes GLS, the off-road S-Class – a genuine SUV pinnacle at last. It’s more than just a name change, too; this mid-life facelift has given it new bumpers, new lights and a big refit for the interior.

Although body panel changes are few, the new front end transforms the look of the GLS, giving it a family look and much more status. There are cool SL-style powerdomes on the bonnet and striking LED headlights. Like much of the equipment bounty, they’re standard on all.

In common with the S-Class, the vast majority of GLS sold in the UK will be diesel. The 3.0-litre V6 350d produces 258hp, and will take nine in 10 sales. The alternative is the bonkers GLS 63 AMG. Mercedes-Benz sells a V6 and a V8 petrol in other markets, but almost nobody would buy them in the UK, so they’re not offered.

Prices start at £69,100 which, for an S-SUV, actually seems a bargain. A Range Rover is much more expensive, says Mercedes. The Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90 are cheaper, but they’re not genuine seven-seaters like this. All sounds promising, but can the GLS deliver?

On the road

Mercedes-Benz GLS

The GLS is a big car; 5.1 metres long, over 1.9 metres wide and 1.8 metres tall. The wheelbase alone is more than 3 metres, and it weighs 2.5 tonnes. But while it feels big and imposing when first behind the wheel, you find it isn’t unwieldy or clumsy. Far from it.

Mercedes-Benz fits Airmatic air suspension as standard, which gives an elegant, cushioned, easygoing ride. Just as you’d expect in an S-Class, in fact. Very low noise levels add to the isolation and make the GLS a wonderfully relaxing long-distance car.

Ample drive from the engine helps. It may be a 3.0-litre diesel in a 2.5-tonne car, but it still does 0-62mph in 7.8 seconds and can run to 137mph. More importantly, 457lb-ft of torque between 1,600-2,400rpm makes light work of the mass.

The engine is quiet, creamy-smooth and clatter-free – generally all that filters through is a pleasant V6 hum – but it’s the new nine-speed 9G-TRIONIC automatic that’s the real masterpiece. An exceptionally intuitive transmission, it perfectly complements the GLS 350d.

With permanent four-wheel drive (hence the 4MATIC badge on the back), it’s a confident performer, even on the snow and ice-covered Austrian test route roads. Remarkably so, in fact: Mercedes’ advanced hardware and software delivers immense foursquare confidence.

It also handles surprisingly tidily (for a 2.5-tonne, 5.1-metre SUV), provided you tick one key option box – that for the Active Curve System anti-roll system. So equipped, and with the Sport drive system selected, the big GLS defies its mass through corners with a lack of lean and roll, and surprising turn-in alacrity.

It’s softer and wallowier in regular drive mode, so remember to turn the knob to experience this surprise: if you want the ultimate S-Class ride, though, keep it regular. It’s a mark of how much Mercedes has successfully done to the GLS that it’s now able to offer this choice.

On the inside

Mercedes-Benz GLS

The GLS’ cabin looks similar to the GL-Class in pictures, but it feels very different in real life. Much higher quality, much more premium, with almost no examples of surprisingly poor finish that you shouldn’t see in such a premium vehicle.

The lift in plushness and appearance is present throughout. The extensively revised dashboard is the star draw: Mercedes has fitted a new freestanding infotainment screen, making the top slimmer and more sculptural. The cool touchpad infotainment controller (with standard internet) is also standard.

Dials are new, with a hi-res display in between, and the finish and appearance of materials throughout is much classier and more expensive-looking. Even small details have been updated: the steering wheel centre is now Nappa leather, for example.

Space is abundant. This is the key reason why people choose a GLS, reckons Mercedes; those in the front have a very high, extremely commanding view out (enhanced by those bonnet domes) and those in the middle seats also have plush, spacious chairs (choose the design trim and four-zone climate control is standard).

It’s the third row seats that really set the GLS apart from the smaller seven-seat Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90 though. Access is relatively easy for a three-row machine: press an electric button on the top of the middle seats and the backrest folds, then the base flips up, fully automatically.

Once there, even adults find ample legroom, kneeroom, footroom and headroom. It’s surprising, how capacious it is, with big side windows adding to the airy feel. They’re far from the chairs you put the people you like least in.

The boot is 295 litres with all seats in use, quickly growing to 680 litres with the third row seats folded flat into the floor. Fold all the seats and a mammoth 2,300 litres is yours, as is a load length of over 2.1 metres. Even payload capacity is vast – the boot takes 815kg, or more than a Caterham Seven and a half.

The GLS can also tow 3.5 tonnes, putting it into the premier league of tow cars. At least one in four will thus be sold with a tow bar…

Running costs

Mercedes-Benz GLS

This is a £70k car and so running costs will not be the same as a GLC. But it won’t be too off the scale, and certainly not as expensive to run as a Range Rover.

The diesel officially averages 37.2mpg, for example, meaning sub-200g/km CO2 (an impressive achievement in itself) and lower fuel and tax bills than you might expect. And although a 100-litre fuel tank will be expensive to fill, it should ensure a decent range.

You can also almost guarantee reliability, which isn’t the case for some luxury SUVs. Mercedes-Benz even offers a 30-year anti-breakdown warranty to all those who keep it within the franchise dealer network: on the side of a snowy Austrian mountain in a -10deg Celcius blizzard, that’s reassuring.

Verdict

Mercedes-Benz GLS

Mercedes-Benz has perfected the GLS by, well, calling it the GLS. That’s all it takes to give it market clarity and definition. In becoming ‘an S-Class’, Merc’s also improved the suspension, overhauled the interior and made it much prettier, but the key thing is so clearly sectorising it, whereas before it was undefined.

This is the firm’s Range Rover rival and, while it’s not as good or as classy as a Range Rover, neither is it as expensive. Yet it still carries the class of an upmarket Mercedes-Benz SUV and, most importantly, it now carries the kudos of being an off-road S-Class. This counts for a lot.

It has taken three years, but now the capable range-topping Mercedes SUV has achieved the status it deserves. In not being a confusing muddle but a well defined model, the Range Rover may just find itself with an unexpected, pretty talented and surprisingly good value new rival.

Rivals

  • Range Rover
  • Audi Q7
  • Volvo XC90
  • BMW X5
  • Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Model line-up

  • GLS 350d 4MATIC AMG Line: £69,100
  • GLS 350d 4MATIC Designo Line: £78,095
  • GLS 63 AMG 4MATIC: £102,330

Specifications

Model: GLS 350d 4MATIC AMG Line

Engine: 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel

Price: £69,100

Power: 258hp

Torque: 457lb-ft

0-62mph: 7.8 seconds

Top speed: 138mph

Fuel economy: 37.2mpg

CO2 emissions: 199g/km

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