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Demand for SUVs is finally slowing down

SUV demand slowing down

New figures from JATO Dynamics suggest a surprising trend. After years of rapid growth, demand for SUVs is slowing down.

SUV sales grew by 0.7 percent in June, with 556,400 shifted in Europe. While that’s still an increase – and indeed the third-highest month ever in terms of units sold – the rate of growth for the segment has slowed.

The bulk of the slowdown can be attributed to a five percent drop in the popularity of large premium SUVs. Mercedes-Benz, Volvo and Land Rover saw double-digit drops in popularity of premium SUV models.

Perhaps more curious is the drop in popularity of crossover SUVs such as the Nissan Qashqai, Volkswagen Tiguan and Peugeot 3008. Sales of the Nissan were down 15 percent, while the Volkswagen and Peugeot dropped 18 percent.

Slowdown catching up with SUVs

SUV demand slowing down

Felipe Munoz, JATO’s global analyst, believes there are a couple of reasons for the slowdown of SUVs.

“Although it was still the third-highest month ever for sales in the segment (behind March 2018 and March 2019), there are two factors that explain the limited growth,” says Munoz.

“The first is that the poor conditions of the wider market are finally impacting SUVs, which are usually more expensive than regular car types. The second, which is more concerning, is that SUV demand may be peaking after many years of growth.”

SUV demand slowing down

Logically speaking, what climbs must eventually plateau. Demand increase cannot be exponential. With the contraction of the market as a whole, it’s only logical to expect that even the strongest performers will eventually feel the burn.

As for the rest of the car market? It’s business as usual. Diesel takes a tumble yet again, with a 21 percent drop in registrations in June for a 31 percent market share. Electric car popularity is growing, with a 20 percent increase in demand.

EVs remain a minority, however, making up just 7.5 percent of all cars sold.   

Best used SUVs for £300 a month

Best used SUVs for £300 a month

Best used SUVs for £300 a month

Unless you’ve been marooned on Love Island for the past few years, you’ll know that crossovers and SUVs are hotter than hot cakes right now. With this in mind, we fired up the Auto Trader website to go in search of used SUVs for £300 a month. To narrow the search down from tens of thousands to a more manageable 20,000 cars, we capped the mileage at 100,000 and the age at three years. Here’s what we found.

Nissan Juke Nismo: £300

Best used SUVs for £300 a month

We’ve purposely excluded Nissan Qashqai from the gallery because, quite frankly, there are thousands of them for sale on Auto Trader, with prices to suit just about every budget. But why drive a ubiquitous crossover when you can own an impersonation of a hot hatch? This 2016 Juke Nismo has covered nearly 17,000 miles and has one former keeper. As the advert suggests, you will stand out.

Hyundai Tucson: £300

Best used SUVs for £300 a month

Now for something a little less in-your-face and, dare we suggest, a whole lot more appealing. The Hyundai Tucson is unlikely to set your pulse racing, but there’s a reason why it’s one of the most popular SUVs across the world. It offers excellent value for money, is well equipped, good looking and comes with a comprehensive five-year warranty. This 67-plate example has covered just 7,817 miles and has 54 months of its warranty remaining.

SsangYong Tivoli: £300

Best used SUVs for £300 a month

The SsangYong Tivoli is one of the sector’s best kept secrets. The small SUV offers exceptional value for money, with even the top-spec 4×4 models priced at around the £20,000 mark. This 2016 front-wheel-drive ELX diesel offers just about all the bells and whistles you could possibly need and has covered just 17,000 miles.

Kia Sportage: £300

Best used SUVs for £300 a month

If you don’t buy a Nissan Qashqai, you buy a Kia Sportage – that appears to be the way things work. This 2015 Sportage diesel has covered a curiously low 10,000 miles and looks, perhaps predictably, to be in showroom condition. The spec includes dual-zone climate control, sat-nav, steering wheel mounted controls, cruise control and a premium sound system. Oh, and the remainder of that famous Kia seven-year warranty,

Skoda Yeti: £300

Best used SUVs for £300 a month

Gone but not forgotten. The Skoda Yeti may have been replaced by the rather plain looking Karoq, but there are hundreds to choose from on Auto Trader. This 2016 example is powered by the excellent 1.2-litre TSI petrol engine and offers a generous level of standard specification. Yours for £14,595 or £300 a month.

BMW X1: £300

Best used SUVs for £300 a month

A BMW X1 wouldn’t be our first choice of crossover or SUV, but if you must have a premium badge parked on your driveway, you’ll find lots to love about this 2015 example. It’s a one-owner car with a five-year BMW service pack, while the spec includes full black leather, DAB digital radio, dual-zone climate control and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Dacia Duster: £300

Best used SUVs for £300 a month

From a premium badge to a budget brand, but don’t let that put you off, because this Dacia Duster is arguably the pick of the crop. It’s on an 18-plate and has covered just 100 miles, while the Laureate trim offers 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, air conditioning and DAB radio. With a new Duster on the way, you might be able to secure a discount on the £13,995 price tag.

Jeep Cherokee: £300

Best used SUVs for £300 a month

The line between SUVs and crossovers has become a little blurred, to the extent that you can buy a two-wheel-drive Jeep Cherokee. When this was new in 2015, it would have cost around £30,000, so on that basis £15,000 is a bit of a bargain. The Limited spec includes sat-nav, leather, dual-zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors, heated seats and 18-inch alloy wheels, but you’ll have to live with that challenging styling.

Suzuki Jimny: £300

Best used SUVs for £300 a month

If £300 a month sounds like a lot of cash for an ageing fun-size SUV, the Suzuki Jimny isn’t the car for you. But if you’re after a go-anywhere, fit for purpose and honest off-roader, and you’re not planning too many long trips, there’s a huge amount to love about the Jimny. There won’t be many more opportunities to buy a current Jimny before the new model arrives, so be quick and bag yourself a future classic. Yes, we’re prepared to mention the ‘future classic’ thing.

Mitsubishi ASX: £299

Best used SUVs for £300 a month

This Mitsubishi ASX creeps below the £300 mark, so just think about what you could do with that extra pound you’ll save every month. This 2017 example has covered 10,359 miles and could be yours for £14,498 or £299 a month. The spec includes leather trim, reversing camera, cruise control, DAB radio and, wait for it, a chrome exhaust finisher. Swanky.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV: £299

Best used SUVs for £300 a month

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV arrived in 2014, and by November 2015 it had amassed 50,000 sales across Europe. By January 2018, that number had risen to 100,000. You can see what all the fuss is about with this one-owner, pre-facelift example, which has covered just under 40,000 miles and offers a generous level of standard specification.

Audi Q3: £299

Best used SUVs for £300 a month

The Audi Q3 is another hugely popular car, but if you want a premium badge for £300 you’ll have to make a couple of sacrifices. For a start, this Q3 is a little older, while the mileage is higher than most of the examples featured in this gallery. On the plus side, the S Line trim is highly desirable and a Q3 is likely to hold its value better than most crossovers and SUVs.

Citroen C3 Aircross: £299

Best used SUVs for £300 a month

If you’re after something a little newer, this Citroen C3 Aircross might suffice. It’s a 2017 car with just 5,000 miles on the clock and powered by a frugal 1.6-litre BlueHDi diesel engine. Take a trip to Chingford and drive away in a new car for £299 a month.

Mercedes-Benz GLA: £299

Best used SUVs for £300 a month

Another premium badge, this time in the shape of the cosmetically challenged Mercedes-Benz GLA. This AMG Line example has covered just 5,365 miles in three years and is priced at just under £20,000 or £299 a month after a £1,000 deposit. At least you won’t have to look at the rear end as you drive to work.

Jeep Renegade: £299

Best used SUVs for £300 a month

What could be more American than a Jeep? Quite a few things, actually, because the Renegade is built in Italy alongside the Fiat 500X. The Longitude trim is one step up from the entry-level Sport, and offers air conditioning, sat-nav, DAB, cruise control and 17-inch alloy wheels. This one owner car has covered just 4,500 miles.

Subaru XV: £299

Best used SUVs for £300 a month

In truth, the new Subaru XV is better than its predecessor, but if you’re after a car that’s better off road than it is on it, there’s much to like about this 2015 example. It comes with full manufacturer service history and is available via a Subaru main dealer. Anything with a Subaru badge tends to have a reputation for reliability, so buy now and don’t pay later. Or something.

Toyota C-HR: £299

Best used SUVs for £300 a month

Buy this Toyota C-HR and you can tell your friends you drive a car from a Le Mans-winning manufacturer. While the leap from the TS050 to the C-HR might be a bit of a stretch (especially in non-hybrid guise), Toyota’s compact SUV remains one of the most eye-catching cars you can buy. This 2017 example has covered 13,000 miles, but you’ll have to be content with the entry-level Icon trim.

Nissan X-Trail: £299

Best used SUVs for £300 a month

We’ve avoided the Nissan Qashqai, but how about its big brother? This is a five-seat X-Trail – a seven-seat version is also available – with 24,589 miles on the clock. “This chunky station wagon has cruise control and parking sensors for a smooth journey, Bluetooth to keep you chatting over every mile, and a complete service history to provide that much welcome peace of mind,” says the dealer. We’re convinced.

Mazda CX-3: £299

Best used SUVs for £300 a month

The Mazda CX-3 is one of the most dynamically sorted cars in the segment, and this one comes in the highly desirable GT Sport trim. The spec includes heated leather seats, a sports styling kit, Bose sound system and 18-inch diamond cut alloy wheels. This ex-dealer demonstrator has covered 9,229 miles and is available for £16,000 or £299 a month.

Suzuki Vitara: £298

Best used SUVs for £300 a month

And finally, a Suzuki Vitara in sporty S guise. The 1.4-litre Boosterjet petrol engine is a peach, while Allgrip offers excellent all-weather performance. It’s available for £15,498 or £298 a month. Note: inclusion in this gallery doesn’t represent an endorsement on our part, so take a test drive and do your homework before parting with any cash. Finance examples are for illustrative purposes only.

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Geneva Motor Show 2018

Geneva 2018: the best new SUVs and trucks

Geneva Motor Show 2018Once upon a time, crazy concepts and ludicrous supercars were the big news at international motor shows. Today, they’ve been all but trounced by the all-conquering SUV, which comes in many shapes and sizes. Here, we select 20 of the best, concentrating on production models, rather than any that might not see the light of day.

Bentley Bentayga PHEV

Geneva Motor Show 2018

One day, we’re going to run out of ‘firsts’. Until then, the press offices will continue to take great pleasure from announcing their world-first this or that. To wit: the Bentley Bentayga PHEV is the world’s first luxury hybrid, although somebody might want to mention this to Lexus. Whatever, it’s most certainly the first hybrid built in Crewe.

The Bentayga with a conscience combines a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 engine and an electric motor to deliver CO2 emissions of just 75g/km. In pure EV mode, it offers an electric range of 31 miles, while in true Bentley style, the wall charger has been designed by Philippe Stark. Bentley says the Bentayga PHEV is the first step towards full electrification.

Jaguar I-Pace

Geneva Motor Show 2018

“Landmark car” and “game-changer” are just two of the things we’ve heard said about the Jaguar I-Pace in Geneva. You can understand the gushing praise: here is a car that looks good, slots neatly into a growing segment, offers a realistic range, and is priced to take on Tesla. How can it fail?

The headlines make for compelling reading: a 90kWh battery delivering up to 298 miles range, two electric motors developing 400hp, 50:50 weight distribution, 0-60mph in 4.5 seconds, and five-seat SUV practicality. It’s available to order now, priced from £63,495.

Range Rover SV Coupe

Geneva Motor Show 2018

The SV Coupe is the latest car to emerge from Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) division and is one of the most talked about cars at this year’s show. Land Rover likens the plush interior to something you might find in a private jet or yacht, which goes some way to justifying the eye-watering £240,000 price tag.

Exclusivity is guaranteed, as Land Rover will build just 999, telling us that several pre-order SV Coupes have already exceeded £300,000 after options. These options include 23-inch alloy wheels – the largest ever fitted to a production Range Rover – along with 100 paint colours, different shades of leathers, a choice of wood veneers and – wait for it – your family crest stitched into the headrests.

Lexus UX

Geneva Motor Show 2018

In an acknowledgment that most of these cars will spend their entire time on the road rather than off it, Lexus is calling its first compact crossover an “Urban Explorer”. The UX is the first Lexus to be built on the new GA-C platform, with the company promising the lowest centre of gravity in its class and a hatchback-like driving experience.

Sounds promising. Chika Kako, chief engineer of the UX goes a little further, claiming that he wanted to deliver car that could change the lives of the mid-30s millennials being targeted by Lexus. The UX 250h will feature a self-charging hybrid system, but we’re still waiting for UK-specific details.

Hyundai Santa Fe

Geneva Motor Show 2018

Another real-word SUV, the Hyundai Santa Fe has become a familiar sight across the world since its launch at the turn of the millennium. This new model has a more confident, almost aggressive stance, with Hyundai promising “best-in-class safety features” and exceptional interior space.

If you’re somebody who’s forever forgetting where you left the children, this is the SUV for you. The Rear Occupant Alert monitors the rear seats to detect passengers and alert the driver there are people in the rear seat when leaving the car. Are you reading, David Cameron?

Cupra Ateca

Geneva Motor Show 2018

It looks like a Seat Ateca, but the Spanish company would like you to refer to it as the Cupra Ateca. Unveiled last month, the sporty SUV is the first of a number of Cupra models, all destined for a life without any Seat branding. Seven new cars are planned within the next three years, starting with this: the 300hp Ateca SUV.

Putting cynicism to one side, the 2.0-litre turbocharged Cupra Ateca promises to be quite a formidable performance SUV. It’ll hit 62mph in just 5.4 seconds, before going to reach a top speed of 152mph.

Honda CR-V

Geneva Motor Show 2018

We reckon this is the best looking Honda CR-V ever built, but the big news lies under the bonnet. Honda has ditched diesel from the range, with buyers offered the choice of either a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine or a 2.0-litre petrol-electric hybrid.

It’s the first time a CR-V hybrid has been available in Europe, but the first deliveries aren’t expected until early 2019. In the meantime, 1.5-litre versions are scheduled for autumn 2018, with a seven-seat option available.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio NRING

Geneva Motor Show 2018

The Alfa Romeo Stelvio NRING pays tribute to the record-setting lap of the Nürburging by offering a host of tasty upgrades. Performance is unchanged, but the special edition adds carbon-ceramic brakes, Sparco race seats and a Mopar automatic transmission knob, plus other cosmetic and in-car entertainment goodies.

Just 108 will be built, one for each year of Alfa history, with each car finished in Circuito Grey. An obligatory numbered badge is fitted to the carbon fibre dashboard insert.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Geneva Motor Show 2018

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has been Europe’s best-selling plug-in hybrid vehicle for the past three years and is the world’s best-selling plug-in SUV. Which means the launch of a new 2019 model is going to be of interest to a lot of people.

A 2.4-litre petrol engine replaces the old 2.0-litre unit, with the 2019 model promising a 15 percent increase in battery capacity and a 10 percent increase in output. There’s also a revised four-wheel-drive system and a host of cosmetic upgrades. It makes the original Outlander PHEV look decidedly dated.

Hyundai Kona Electric

Geneva Motor Show 2018

We’ve deliberately excluded crossovers from this gallery, choosing to focus on full-fat SUVs and pick-ups. But we’re prepared to make an exception for the Hyundai Kona Electric, because we think it could be one of the unsung heroes of the show.

It sits 15mm higher than the regular Kona and will be offered in two variants: one offering a range of 186 miles, the other managing 292 miles. Hyundai hasn’t confirmed prices, but if it comes in around the £25,000 mark, there are likely to be many customers forming a queue at dealers.

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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.

Rolls-Royce teases 2018 'Project Cullinan' SUV

Rolls-Royce teases 2018 ‘Project Cullinan’ SUV

Rolls-Royce teases 2018 'Project Cullinan' SUV

Rolls-Royce is to begin testing of its new SUV this week ahead of its 2018 launch – with the luxury car manufacturer releasing these pictures of a camouflaged prototype model.

In a statement released today, Rolls-Royce says testing will begin on Friday, with the “Project Cullinan” SUV undergoing cold weather durability and traction testing in the Arctic Circle from early next year.

It will then head to the Middle East later in 2017 for testing in high temperatures and desert conditions.

“This is an incredibly exciting moment in the development of Project Cullinan both for Rolls-Royce and for the patrons of luxury that follow us around the world,” said Rolls-Royce’s CEO, Torsten Müller-Ötvös.

“Bringing together the new four-wheel drive system and the new ‘architecture of luxury’ for the first time sets us on the road to creating a truly authentic Rolls-Royce which, like its forebears, will reset the standard by which all other luxury goods are judged.”

Rolls-Royce teases 2018 'Project Cullinan' SUV

The firm first announced its “all-terrain, high-sided vehicle” in February 2015, before releasing these pictures of a bizarre Phantom-based test mule.

Project Cullinan is’s expected to have genuine off-road ability to rival a Range Rover, while its price tag could make the £162,000 Bentley Bentayga W12 look affordable.

Underpinning the SUV is a new aluminium architecture which will be used across the entire Rolls-Royce range from 2018.

10 crossovers that beat the Nissan Qashqai to market

10 crossovers that beat the Nissan Qashqai to market

10 crossovers that beat the Nissan Qashqai to market

I’ve just written a rambling piece on the increasing popularity of the crossover, in which I challenge the misconception that the Nissan Qashqai was the first of its breed. In fairness, Sunderland’s finest export was the first car to be called a crossover, and it was – and still is – one of the most popular vehicles of recent times.

But what of the crossovers that were built before the crossover was a thing? Here’s a selection of just some of the cars that blurred the automotive lines before the Qashqai was a sketch in a Nissan design studio.

1: Matra Rancho

Much maligned when new, but with the benefit of hindsight, seriously cool, the Matra Rancho was a pioneering vehicle. That’s assuming your pioneering spirit didn’t take you too far off the beaten track, because despite the ‘Land Rover Discovery before its time’ styling, this French soft-roader was strictly two-wheel drive only.

Production ended in 1984, by which time Matra had shifted its focus to the original Renault Espace, itself another pioneering vehicle. But having arrived in 1977, the Rancho pre-dates the Qashqai by three decades.

2: Toyota RAV4

Toyota claims the RAV4 was the world’s first recreational compact SUV. Launched as a three-door in 1994, the RAV4 could boast permanent all-wheel drive and a 2.0-litre 16-valve petrol engine.

“The RAV4 (Recreational Active Vehicle with 4WD) sets new standards in the small four wheel drive or sport utility sector and is designed for those with active lifestyles, a sense of fun and who want to be just a little different,” said Toyota at the time. Two decades on, buying a crossover is the last thing you should do if you want to be different.

3: Land Rover Freelander

3: Land Rover Freelander

With a strong wind, Land Rover could have beaten the RAV4 to market by a good few years. The Freelander can trace its roots back to the late 1980s, when Land Rover began thinking about a smaller sibling for the Discovery. As it was, the Freelander launch in 1997 was perfectly timed to coincide with a new wave of lifestyle SUVs arriving from the Far East.

In truth, the Freelander was as much a full-fat SUV as it was a crossover – certainly when you consider what passes as a crossover today – but by positioning it as a lifestyle vehicle and keeping the price low, Land Rover hit the mark. It’s just a shame so many early cars were dogged by reliability and quality issues.

Honda HR-V

The Honda CR-V might have been the Freelander’s chief rival, but the original HR-V was the true crossover. Launched in 1999, the HR-V was part hot hatch, part estate car, part SUV, but also 100% joyous. The original three-door HRV was, after all, positioned as the ‘Joy Machine’.

It was positively dripping in lifestyle, with an achingly cool ‘shooting brake on stilts’ body, five cupholders, a storage net for your mobile phone and two gloveboxes. At the time, its ‘Dual Pump’ four-wheel drive system was properly innovative, too. In short: the HR-V was cool in a manner a modern crossover can only dream of.

AMC Eagle

If the HR-V was part hot hatch, part estate car and part SUV, the AMC Eagle was part car, part truck and part 4×4 – a proper crossover, then. Launched in the late 1970s, the Eagle was available in a number of different body styles, including a delightful two-door coupe.

In 1979, Popular Science likened the Eagle’s off-road ability to that of a mountain goat, while praising its on-road ride and handling. God bless America for building a proper crossover that was way ahead of the curve.

Skoda Roomster

Skoda Roomster

You’ll need to adopt some leftfield thinking to allow the Skoda Roomster into a crossover gallery, but hear me out. Who said a crossover has to be part hatchback, part SUV? The Roomster – which was based on a concept car from 2003 – offered the practicality of a van with the dynamics of a car.

In many ways, it was the sensible alternative to the likes of the Citroen Berlingo and Renault Kangoo, boasting 450 litres of boot space. Note the ‘Popemobile’ styling, which helped to cement Skoda’s proud claim that it offered two distinct spaces – a ‘Living Room’ and a ‘Driving Room’. The Roomster is no-nonsense motoring at its finest.

Subaru Forester

In the Leone AWD, Subaru is able to claim the world’s first jacked-up off-road estate car, but the Forester was its first attempt at a true crossover. Launched in 1997, the original Forester was, according to Subaru, “SUV tough, car easy”, offering a near-perfect blend of on-road comfort and off-road ability.

It was based on the Impreza, which itself spawned the brilliantly-named Gravel Express.

Toyota Tercel

TV fans will recognise the Toyota Tercel as Jesse Pinkman’s vehicle of choice in Breaking Bad. It’s fair to say that Toyota didn’t have the transportation of illegal substances in its mind when it launched the Tercel back in 1983, but that large load area and ‘flick in, flick out’ four-wheel drive meant that it was an ideal winter wagon.

The styling was an acquired taste – not least the ‘greenhouse’ rear windows and ‘ATM machine’ on the tailgate – but by marketing the Tercel at folk who wanted to venture off the beaten track but didn’t want an SUV, Toyota was ahead of the game.

Pontiac Aztek

Pontiac Aztek

Yes, it’s another car that was thrust back into the limelight by a starring role in Breaking Bad. Casting the Pontiac Aztek as Walter White’s choice of wheels was a stroke of genius, as this much-maligned crossover is high on comedic value and intrigue.

That it often appears on lists of the ugliest and worst cars of all-time hides the fact that GM set out with the best intentions for the Aztek. It was versatile and could be accessorised with everything from a tent to racks for bikes, canoes and snowboards. Popular it might not be, but a crossover it most certainly was.

Tesla Model X 90D quick review: 2017’s must-have SUV

Tesla Model X 90D quick review: 2017’s must-have SUV

Tesla Model X 90D quick review: 2017’s must-have SUV

This is Tesla’s long-awaited SUV, based on the same platform as the Model S but boasting SUV practicality and four-wheel drive on all models. At 2.27m wide and 5m long, does it work on UK roads? We’ve had a brief drive to find out.

Prices and deals

OK, so the Tesla Model X 90D will cost you £85,000 (including the government’s plug-in car grant), while an entry-level 75D starts at £76,500. Don’t expect any movement on that: Tesla doesn’t do negotiation, especially with a car as hyped as the Model X.

What are its rivals?

Although the Model X has no obvious rivals, there’s also no shortage of upmarket SUVs you could buy for this money. These include the Range Rover, Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Volvo XC90. None of these are electric – although some do offer hybrid powertrains – while Jaguar has just unveiled its electric I-Pace at the LA Auto Show. That’s a couple of years away from hitting the market, though.

What engine does it use?

What engine does it use?

As you’ve probably clocked by now, the Tesla Model X doesn’t have an engine. Instead, it uses a 100kWh battery located on the floor, powering two electric motors located over each axle to provide four-wheel drive on all models.

How fast?

With a drag coefficient of 0.24 (the lowest of any SUV, claims Tesla), the Model X 90D will hit 62mph in an astonishing 3.2 seconds. That drops to 2.9 seconds in the range-topping P100D, while top speed is limited to 155mph.

Will I enjoy driving it?

It depends on the kind of enjoyment you expect from driving. It’s a heavy car, with light steering and relatively high centre of gravity (compared to the Model S saloon), so it’s not fun in the ‘B-road blaster’ sense.

However, there is fun to be had in exploiting the performance. With instant torque (all 325lb ft of it) and no gear changes getting in the way, happiness is an empty motorway slip road. It’s a weird sensation accelerating hard in a Tesla – your insides are thrust backwards, yet there’s none of the usual noise you associate with being propelled forward at such a rate.

When you’re not in the mood for such shenanigans, it’s such a serene car for tooling around town or schlepping up miles. Autopilot makes motorway miles even easier, working like adaptive cruise control but going a step further. Indicate and it’ll check for traffic around you, then change lanes if it feels it’s safe. Legislation dictates that you have to touch the steering wheel regularly, though.

Fuel economy and running costs

Fuel economy and running costs

This is where the Model X could be a huge money-saver. Relying on an electric motor, the 90D boasts an official range of 303 miles. Sure, if you’re enjoying that phenomenal acceleration regularly that’ll dip a bit. But still, as long as you can charge at home, the chances are you won’t have to worry about running out of electricity.

If you do input a destination into the sat nav that’s further away than you’ll get on the remaining range, the Tesla will take you via one of its ‘Supercharger’ points. Get your order in before 1st January 2017 and you’ll be able to use these for free – after that, you’ll have to pay. Tesla hasn’t confirmed how much it’ll cost, but it will work out cheaper than running a petrol or diesel car.

What’s the interior like?

Weird, frankly. Enter the cabin through the incredible falcon-wing doors, and you’ll find up to seven seats (depending on how many you’ve ordered). Up-front, there’s the huge tablet-style touchscreen infotainment system (only bigger than a tablet), while our test car featured a wood-effect dash. Although perhaps not quite up to the standards of luxury you might expect from a car of this price, it feels better quality than an early Model S we’ve previously tested.

Is it comfortable?

You sit reassuringly high up, with light coming in through the huge windscreen-cum-sunroof and brightening up the cabin. We spent less than an hour in the car, but doubt we’d be complaining about backache after a longer journey. One pleasant feature of the Model X is the HEPA air filter, which allows medical-grade clean air to fill the cabin, no matter how polluted the air outside the car is. There’s even a bioweapon defence mode.

Is it practical?

Is it practical?

Unless you really need seven seats, we’d opt for a six-seater for a less claustrophobic feel, while ordering five seats will get you a larger boot. Those huge falcon-wing doors enable easy access to the front and rear, while their design means they don’t need a huge area to open.

Oh, and if you want to lug a caravan with the Model X, now you can. An optional tow hitch gives it a towing capacity of 2,270kg, making it the first ever electric car capable of towing.

Tell me about the tech

Where do we start? As Tesla positions itself more as a tech firm that a car company, it offers updates for all its cars that can be installed remotely, meaning you’ll always have the latest tech if you buy a Model X (or at least be able to get it).

For example, the latest update (8.0) features a new look for that huge 17-inch touchscreen, with changes made to maps and its media player. Autopilot has also been enhanced.

What about safety?

Tesla claims the Model X is the safest SUV ever and we doubt there’s much this side of a Volvo XC90 we’d rather be for a crash. The lack of a combustion engine means most of the front-end is crumple zone, while tech such as automatic emergency braking means you’re less likely to be in an accident in the first place.

Which version should I go for?

Which version should I go for?

How much can you afford? All versions are four-wheel drive, and for most, the performance of the entry-level (if you can call it that) 75D will be more than adequate. If money is no object, the P100D is the one that’ll get you the most respect from Tesla geeks. And scare your mother in law.

What’s the used alternative?

There isn’t really anything like the Model X on the used market. The Model S has been around since 2014, and you can now pick up early examples for around £55,000. If you’re after an SUV, perhaps consider the popular Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. That’s a bit like buying a Huawei because you can’t afford an iPhone, though.

Should I buy one?

The Tesla Model X won’t be for everyone. Shelling out £80,000 on a car that is still relatively niche isn’t easy to justify – especially when you can get a Range Rover for the same money. And the Range Rover can be filled up in a matter of minutes at your local petrol station.

A Range Rover isn’t set to be 2017’s ‘must-have’, though – and the hype around the Model X is almost entirely justified. Not only is it a quirky family SUV, its low running costs should help make the maths add up, while the gadgets on offer will never get boring.

Pub fact

Pub fact

If you are tempted by a Tesla Model X, we’d suggest getting your order in as soon as possible. Not only will those ordered in 2017 lose the right to free Supercharging, but new VED bands from 1 April 2017 will mean you’ll have to pay £310 a year road tax for the first five years. Register it before then and it’ll be free.

Peugeot 3008 SUV

2017 Peugeot 3008 review: from frumpy MPV to funky SUV

Peugeot 3008 SUVNot so long ago, people carriers were touted as the future of family cars. A ‘one box’ design, it was rightly argued, shoehorns the maximum amount of passengers and luggage into the available space. The problem, of course, is that functional isn’t fashionable. Nobody wants to drive a van with windows.

MPV to SUVPeugeot 3008 SUV

The French like a people carrier more than most, but they’re also dedicated followers of fashion. So Peugeot has reinvented its 3008 with more ground clearance and rugged styling. Yes, frumpy multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) has become funky sport-utility vehicle (SUV). With sales of medium SUVs up by 150% in Europe since 2009, it’s hard to argue with that logic. We travelled to Bologna to see if Peugeot’s sector-switching gamble has paid off.

January salesPeugeot 3008 SUV

First a few facts, though. Peugeot won’t reveal full UK prices until November, but we’re told the 3008 will start from £21,795 when it hits showrooms in January 2017. There’s a choice of two petrol engines and four diesels, plus six-speed manual or automatic gearboxes. Its rivals include the Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar, SEAT Ateca and Volkswagen Tiguan.

Mr MusclePeugeot 3008 SUV

All gaping grille and bloated body, the old 3008 looked like the sort of bottom-feeding sea creature only David Attenborough could love. The new car is more Mr Muscle than Mr Blobby, with chiselled lines and a squat stance. At the front, hawkish headlights taper towards a jutting jaw, while the rear features a kicked-up waistline and a ‘floating’ roof à la Range Rover Evoque. It’s brave rather than beautiful, but divisive looks haven’t done the Nissan Juke any harm.

Bang on-trendPeugeot 3008 SUV

Peugeot describes the 3008 as “potentially the most trendy SUV currently on the market”. And, putting aside the fact that nobody other than our nan uses the word ‘trendy’, the team from Vélizy has done a decent job. Style matters in this sector – it’s the main reason we aren’t all buying MPVs, after all – and 3008 has showroom appeal in spades. Choose copper or grey and you can even opt for two-tone ‘Coupe Franche’ paint seen here, previously only available on 208 and 308 GTIs. However, it’s the 3008’s interior that really sets it apart.

Virtual realityPeugeot 3008 SUV

You’ll probably familiar with Peugeot’s i-Cockpit by now. In essence, it consists of a small steering wheel and a high-set instrument binnacle – the idea being that you view the dials over the top of the wheel, rather than through it. The 3008 takes the concept a stage further with a squared-off wheel (part-Playstation, part-Austin Allegro), plus a fully digital display not unlike Audi’s Virtual Cockpit.

Talking techPeugeot 3008 SUV

The 12.3-inch instrument panel has a choice of modes, from traditional dials to 3D navigation view. Unlike the Audi system, you can’t opt for a full-width map or the pièce de resistance Google Earth display. But while the Germans charge £1,600 for Virtual Cockpit on a new Q2, the i-Cockpit is standard across the 3008 range. It all looks suitably snazzy, although we rather liked the ‘Minimum’ view for distraction-free driving at night.

Premium bondingPeugeot 3008 SUV

There’s also an eight-inch touchscreen atop the dashboard for infotainment, but thankfully Peugeot hasn’t ‘done a Renault’ and switched to a completely screen-based setup. A set of elegant ‘piano keys’ adorns the swoopy centre console, allowing quick access to major functions. The overall ambiance is stylish, futuristic and more than a little premium, particularly with the Amplify reactive mood lighting of higher-spec models. Volkswagen should be worried.

Run to the hillsPeugeot 3008 SUV

We escape Bologna airport and head for the Autostrada. Our destination: the hills of Emilia Romagna – part of the original Mille Miglia race route and spiritual home of the supercar. No pressure, then.

Cruising at motorway speeds gives us time to appreciate the Peugeot’s impressive refinement and comfortable driving position. We heard one shorter driver complain of the steering wheel obscuring the dials (a relatively common issue with i-Cockpit), but our 5ft 8in frame fitted fine. A case of try before you buy, perhaps.

Soaking it upPeugeot 3008 SUV

Exiting onto minor roads peppered with potholes and Pandas (the Fiat variety), it also became clear how nicely the 3008 rides. Peugeot doesn’t make claims about sporty handling: the emphasis here is on good ol’ fashioned comfort – and there’s nowt wrong with that. Even on the 19-inch alloys of the top-spec GT, the 3008 feels as absorbent as a roll of quilted Andrex.

Sunday drivingPeugeot 3008 SUV

The pay-off is a car that doesn’t quite do the Mille Miglia course justice. Still, what did you expect? The 3008 is pleasant to drive – the equal of a Nissan Qashqai – but this was never going to be one you’d get up early on Sunday for. Plus points include predictable handling and a lack of body-roll. On the minus side, the steering feels somewhat artificial and the automatic gearbox can be indecisive when ‘making progress’. Better to slow down and take in the Tuscan scenery, we thought.

Diesel do nicelyPeugeot 3008 SUV

Peugeot expects 70% of 3008 buyers to opt for a diesel engine, and there are four to choose from: 100hp and 120hp 1.6-litre BlueHDi, or 150hp and 180hp 2.0 BlueHDi. If you prefer petrol, there’s the 130hp 1.2 PureTech or 165hp 1.6 THP. Headline fuel economy figures are 70.6mpg for the 100hp diesel and 55.4mpg for the 1.2 petrol – both on par with rivals.

Interestingly, a Peugeot engineer told us they “haven’t ruled out” a 3008 GTI. But for the now the quickest versions are the 180hp diesel and 165hp petrol, both of which hit 62mph in 8.9 seconds.

Showing some anklePeugeot 3008 SUV

We start our drive in the flagship 2.0 diesel, before swapping into the 120hp 1.6 (the latter likely to be the UK bestseller). The bigger engine is appreciably quieter, not least because it doesn’t need to be worked as hard, but both offer sufficient mid-range punch for safe overtaking. Battered, heavily-laden Pandas were dispatched with a swift flex of the right ankle.

We also tried the 165hp petrol, which is smooth but less suited to the 3008’s laid-back character. Maximum power arrives at 6,000rpm, versus 3,500rpm in the diesel, so more ankle flexing is required. We’d follow the masses and go for the 120hp diesel.

The joy of specsPeugeot 3008 SUV

Peugeot offers four trim levels: Active, Allure, GT Line and GT. Standard equipment on the Active includes automatic emergency braking, 17-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control, automatic headlights/wipers, rear parking sensors, DAB radio and Apple CarPlay. Android Auto connectivity follows soon after launch.

Stepping up to Allure adds the Safety Plus pack with lane-keep assist and blind-spot detection, plus 18-inch alloys, sat nav with live traffic updates, a reversing camera and ambient interior lighting. GT Line gets sports styling and LED headlights, while the fully-loaded GT gets 19-inch wheels, leather trim, active cruise control, keyless entry, massage seats, an electric tailgate and a panoramic glass sunroof.

Sounds AlluringPeugeot 3008 SUV

Peugeot expects half of UK buyers to choose Allure and, having sampled all versions apart from the basic Active, we’d again be inclined to follow the herd. It has all the safety kit you’d hope for in a family car (all 3008s have a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating) and its fabric-covered dashboard looks more contemporary than the wood or faux-carbonfibre found elsewhere.

If you must splash out on options, we thoroughly recommend Peugeot’s brilliant E-Kick electric scooter, which has a built-in charging dock in the boot of the car. It’s not cheap, at £1,100, but there are few more enjoyable ways whizz around an Italian hotel. Provided you don’t break both legs in the process, of course.

People carryingPeugeot 3008 SUV

So, what about practicality? Has it been sacrificed on the altar of SUV style? Not entirely. The new 3008 doesn’t offer the seat-swivelling versatility of a good MPV, but there’s plenty of headroom (less so with the panoramic roof option) and front-seat occupants will be very comfortable. Those in the rear are less fortunate, with limited legroom for adults of above average height, plus a rather upright seat backrest that can’t be reclined.

Baggage handlingPeugeot 3008 SUV

The square-shaped boot has a wide opening and enough space for a baby buggy or washing machine. The rear bench folds flat via quick-release levers, while the front passenger seat can also flip forward for lengthy loads. “Perfect for transporting a Christmas tree”, says Peugeot. GT Line and GT versions also have an extendable boot floor that slides out beyond the rear bumper to create a bench for a family picnic. If only we’d packed the wine and cheese.

Two wheels good?Peugeot 3008 SUV

You may have noticed we’ve got this far into a 4×4 review with no mention of four-wheel drive. That’s because the 3008 doesn’t have it – not even as an option. As the car’s product manager pointed out, less than 2% of Qashqais sold in the UK have 4WD, so there simply isn’t the demand. What you can have instead is Grip Control, an optional driver-selectable system with Mud, Snow and Sand modes to optimise traction at the front wheels. It won’t get you up a rock-strewn glacier, but it might help you across a muddy field to that aforementioned family picnic.

Cross purposesPeugeot 3008 SUV

The 3008 competes in the crowded crossover class, where minds are changed by tax bands and small price differences. As such, Peugeot’s decision not to publish prices at launch isn’t particularly helpful. However, we expect the 3008 to score on standard equipment rather than headline-grabbing PCP deals.

Yet this is also a sector where hearts are won with great design – and herein lies the 3008’s USP. Its exterior styling divides opinion, but it can’t fail to grab your attention. And its interior really is quite special. Peugeot has finally delivered on its plan to ‘go premium’.

Future shockPeugeot 3008 SUV

Ultimately, a so-so driving experience and slightly cramped rear seats prevent the 3008 from achieving a full five stars. But if you need more room, it’s worth noting that the closely-related 5008 SUV arrives in March, complete with seven seats and – so we’re told – even more space than the current 5008.

While Citroen returns to its quirky roots, Peugeot is pushing upmarket and embracing avant-garde design. On the evidence of the new 3008, its plan seems to be working. We’re not sure about the future of family cars, but the future for Peugeot looks promising.

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