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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.   

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.

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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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Explained: all the different types of car

Once upon a time, we lived in a far simpler world. Open the Observer’s Book of Automobiles and, with a few exceptions, cars could be split into a small number of categories. Saloon, hatchback, estate, coupe, sports and off-roader: clear and simple. Sure, you could find the odd supercar or luxury car, but the point remains, we knew where we stood.

Today, we’re faced with crossovers, SAVs, coupes with four doors and ‘coupes’ that are little more than a cosmetically-challenged SUV with restricted rear headroom and a questionable rump. Yes, we’re looking at you, Mercedes-Benz. And don’t get us started on the subject of four-door shooting brakes.

Here, we select 20 different types of car and attempt to provide a definition for each one. Where possible, we’ve included a little background and an example for each classification. 

 

Hatchback


Defining the hatchback is far simpler than pinpointing the origins of the body style. Some will point to the Aston Martin DB2/4 of the mid-1950s, while others will credit the Innocenti-Austin A40S Combinata, which was very much ahead of the curve.

Our love affair with the hatchback arguably began when Renault launched the iconic 4 in 1961. The wide-opening tailgate presented estate-like loading potential, and more than eight million were produced over three decades.

But the saloon and estate refused to roll over and die, with innovative cars such as the Renault 16 and Austin Maxi failing to propel the hatchback into the mainstream. But things changed in the late 1970s when motorists finally saw the potential of the saloon-cum-wagon.

The Oxford Dictionary defines the hatchback as: “a car with a door across the full width at the back end that opens upwards to provide easy access for loading.”

A hatchback might be classed as a three-door or five-door, depending on the configuration, with the tailgate considered to be a door in itself. Today, the three-door hatchback is less popular, with designers working hard to disguise the rear doors.

The current Renault Clio and Suzuki are good examples of the rear door handles integrated within the C-pillar, to create the look of a three-door hatch.

Hot hatch


Without the hatchback, there wouldn’t be a hot hatch, which provides the proof that practicality can be fun. Although the hot hatch is seen as an 80s thing, there were fast hatchbacks before the term was used.

Cars such as the Simca 1100 TI, Renault 16 TX, Chrysler Sunbeam TI and Renault 5 Gordini provided the necessary groundwork for the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Peugeot 205 GTI: the first cars to be labelled hot hatches.

For us, a real hot hatch needs to be front-wheel drive, ideally with three doors. That said, a modern hot hatch is just as likely to feature five doors.

Saloon


“A car having a closed body and a closed boot separated from the part in which the drivers and passengers sit,” is how the Oxford Dictionary defines the saloon car.

For generations, the family saloon was a familiar sight on Britain’s roads and the car you doodled in your sketchbook during double maths.

The traditional three-box saloon might be a dying breed, but the likes of the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4 keep the segment alive.

Estate car


For estate car, see Volvo.

Enough said.

MPV


Whatever you call it, what we class as a minivan, people carrier or MPV (multi-purpose vehicle) can trace its roots back to the Chrysler Corporation’s Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager, launched at the tail-end of 1983.

It didn’t take long for the rest of the world to catch on, with Renault blazing a trail in Europe with the Matra-designed Espace. It spawned a multitude of competitors, designed from the ground up to carry many passengers – usually five or seven – and their luggage.

Compact MPVs soon followed, often based on the platform and mechanicals of traditional family hatchbacks. Examples include the Renault Megane Scenic and Citroen Xsara Picasso.

Today’s MPVs are characterised by flexible seating arrangements and often sliding doors. While the market is in decline, cars such as the Volkswagen Touran, Ford Galaxy and Citroen C4 Picasso remain faithful to the concept of practicality over style.

SUV


An SUV is a Sport Utility Vehicle, a term used historically to categorise a 4×4 or off-road vehicle. The SUV has its roots in military-derived vehicles, such as the Willys Jeep and Land Rover.

As time moved on, the SUV became less workmanlike and more lifestyle-led. The Jeep Wagooner pioneered the idea of a sport utility vehicle long before the term was first used, feeling more car-like than any other 4×4 on the market.

Other SUVs soon followed, most notably the Range Rover, which first appeared in 1970. Early SUVs offered an off-road bias, with some feeling a tad primitive and unwieldy on the road, but today we expect them to offer a perfect blend of on- and off-road capabilities.

They come in all shapes and sizes, from the Suzuki Jimny compact 4×4 to the Bentley Bentayga, which is the fastest SUV ever built. Whatever, to be classed as an SUV, we’d expect a car to offer a commanding driving position, a practical interior and some off-road skills.

Crossover


This is where things get slightly trickier. You’ll have heard the ‘crossover’ word being bandied about in the motoring press, but Joe Public might not have a clue what the word actually means.

In essence, a crossover is a car with the lofty suspension and practicality of an SUV, but with the running costs of a family hatchback. In other words, more urban-roader than off-roader.

The lines have been blurred by the increasingly car-like and more efficient SUVs, which spend more time on the road than off it. In our book at least, a crossover should be two-wheel drive, while an SUV should offer four-wheel-drive capabilities.

But then you find four-wheel drive variants of traditional crossovers and the lines become blurred once again…

The claim that Nissan invented the crossover when it unveiled the Qashqai in 2006 is nonsense, although it unquestionably led to the introduction of the term.

In respect of a front-wheel drive-crossover, the Matra Rancho led the way, although the world wasn’t quite ready for a car with off-road styling but next-to-no off-road ability. You could also point to the AMC Eagle as a crossover pioneer, although its inclusion would shoot a hole through the idea that a crossover should be front-wheel drive.

It’s a tough one. For now, can we all agree that a crossover is a daft name, but if it must be used, it needs to denote a front-wheel-drive vehicle with SUV styling and family car-like running costs?

Good, moving on.

City car


There should be no problems describing a city car, which is a small, fuel-efficient vehicle that is best suited to urban driving.

The BMW Isetta, Fiat Nuova 500 and Mini were early pioneers of the cutesy urban car concept, while today’s city cars might offer up to five doors and the level of kit you’d expect to find on a much larger and more expensive vehicle.

Supermini


According to Austin 1100 Club historian, Chris Morris, the 1100 “was the first supermini, as we know them today.” You can understand the logic: here was a natural extension of the Mini, with compact proportions and a roomy interior.

Today, the Ford Fiesta is the archetypal supermini, with a size falling between a city car and a family hatchback, cheap running costs, and as good to drive in town as it is on a long journey.

Coupe


A coupe is traditionally a closed two-door car with a fixed roof, either with two seats or with two additional seats in the rear (known as a 2+2).

Some of the German brands have attempted to stretch the definition by creating four-door coupes, but in reality, these tend to be nothing more than four-door saloons with restricted rear headroom.

Convertible


In Europe, only the Germans purchase more convertibles than the British. Turns out our far-from-tropical climate is no barrier to getting the top down at any given opportunity.

A convertible – or cabriolet – is four-seater or 2+2 with a removable or folding roof. Examples include the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet, Mini Convertible and Range Rover Evoque Convertible.

The words are mostly interchangeable, with ‘Cabriolet’ a French word first used in the 18th century to describe a light horse-drawn carriage. Convertible has more modern origins.

Roadster


Once again, the word ‘roadster’ has its origins in the equine world. In the 19th century, the term was used to describe a horse with an ability to draw a carriage over vast distances in a single day.

From an automotive perspective, a roadster is an open sports car with seating for two, with the MGB and Triumph Spitfire two prime examples from the past. Today, the Mazda MX-5 is the archetypal roadster.

Targa


A Targa top is a semi-convertible body style with a removable roof section and a full-width roll bar behind the seats. The name was first used by Porsche when it unveiled the 911 Targa in 1965, with the German firm having the foresight to trademark before the launch.

The 911 wasn’t the first car to feature a Targa roof. In 1961, Triumph created a ‘Surrey Top’ for the TR4, with the equivalent of a rear section of a hardtop and a removable canvas to bridge the gap between the windscreen and the rear of the car.

Sports car


Defining a sports car is a bit like explaining the offside rule to a non-footballist: in your head, it’s easy to grasp, but try educating somebody on the subject.

Google ‘what is a sports car’, and you’ll find that subject is the cause of some debate. “No one knows what ‘sports car’ actually means anymore,” proclaims Road & Track, while Jalopnik asks: “What is a sports car, exactly?”

Things were simpler in the black and white days of Terry Thomas. A sports car was an open two-seater with just enough power to perform. A chariot built with entertainment in mind, along with post-Sunday lunch galivanting through the countryside with your significant other. Ding dong.

An MGB was a sports car. A Ford Capri wasn’t. A Porsche 718 Boxster is a sports car. A Ford Mustang isn’t. And yet all four cars were built in the name of fun, with practicality sitting further down the list of priorities.

But where does the ‘open two-seater’ definition leave cars like the Toyota GT86, Subaru BRZ and Jaguar F-Type Coupe? Nobody could deny their sporting intent, but are they more ‘sports coupe’ than the classic definition of a sports car?

Does it matter? Answers on a postcard to the usual address.

Executive


Euro NCAP uses the ‘executive’ tag to categorise cars such as the BMW 5 Series, Jaguar XF, Audi A6 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. In other words, cars slightly larger than the archetypal company motor.

There’s an aspirational quality to the executive car, seen as a cut above the ordinary family runabout. Something for middle managers to aim for: the carrot used as a motivational tool by MDs and CEOs.

The Vauxhall Carlton was the carrot for Cavalier drivers. See also: Granada and Cortina, 605 and 405, and Safrane and Laguna.

Today, as carmakers push further upmarket, the ‘executive’ tag is more far-reaching. Everything from the Ford Mondeo to the Tesla Model S can be classed as an executive, with size no longer a barrier to entry. Which is why the ‘exec’ label fits the BMW 3 Series and the 5 Series.

Luxury


There’s a distinct gap between a premium motor and a luxury car. To be considered luxurious, a car must leave nothing to chance in the pursuit of perfection. The most exquisite materials, impeccable craftsmanship and, in today’s world, the most cutting-edge technology.

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the BMW 7 Series, the Audi A8 are luxury cars, as is anything built by Rolls-Royce and Bentley.

Quadricycle


From the sublime to the, er… ridiculous. Actually, that’s a little unfair, because the Renault Twizy can be a barrel of laughs, given the right set of circumstances.

It’s just that a quadricycle isn’t really a car. Instead, the EU places the four-wheeled vehicle in the same category as mopeds, motorcycles and motor tricycles.

There are two sub-categories: light and heavy quadricycles. Nip across to France, and you’ll find a multitude of these tiny, low-powered and lightweight vehicles. The predominant brands are Aixam and Ligier.

Supercar


What is a supercar? Again, it’s a hard question to answer, but it provides a useful extra layer above and beyond a standard sports car.

Perhaps it would be easier to start by naming the first supercar: the genesis of the breed. But this will spark yet another debate.

Was it the Bugatti 57SC Atlantic of 1936? Maybe the Mercedes-Benz 300SL of 1954? How about the Lamborghini Miura of 1966? A tough call, but the trio helps to form a precise definition of what makes a supercar.

What do you they have in common? An expensive price tag, exhilarating performance, drop-dead gorgeous styling and the capacity to make grown men (and women) go weak at the knees.

Above all else, if a child makes room on their bedroom wall for a poster of said car, then it is almost certainly a supercar. Think Ferrari 812 Superfast, Porsche 911 GT3 RS and Lamborghini Huracan.

Hypercar


“We can agree that both supercars and hypercars are expensive, exotic and fast. The difference between them is really a matter of extremeness. And in the case of companies with multiple models, the car’s position in the model line.

“No hypercar has a more expensive or more exclusive corporate sibling.” Maxim presents a pretty decent summation of the supercar versus hypercar debate.

Maxim goes on to claim that the Bugatti Veyron was “probably the first bona fide hypercar,” which is something many people would agree with. Although we’d also add an honourable mention for the McLaren F1.

It’s all about excess and pushing the boundaries. The McLaren P1, Ferrari LaFerrari, Bugatti Chiron and Rimac Concept One are 100% hypercar.

Pick-up


We conclude our rundown of the different car classifications with an easy one: the pick-up. There are various types – double cab, crew cab, single cab – but thanks to the Ford F-Series, the pick-up is the best-selling vehicle in the world.

Agree or disagree with our definitions? Let us know. In the meantime, we’re off to ask BMW why it felt the need to invent the Sport Activity Vehicle (SAV) tag, as well as sending a ‘cease and desist’ letter to Mercedes-Benz concerning its SUV coupes.

>NEXT: Car clocking is on the rise – and PCP deals could be to blame

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.

Jaguar I-Pace in London

Electric Jaguar I-Pace hits the streets of London

Jaguar I-Pace in LondonJaguar’s I-Pace is already a front-runner for most exciting car of 2018. The 400hp electric SUV will be fast, spacious and environmentally-friendly. Plus, if this concept version is an accurate guide, it will be stunning to look at, too.

The I-Pace concept was revealed at the Los Angeles Auto Show, but it’s now been spotted in the wild for the first time. Fittingly for a car Jaguar describes as a ‘long-distance sprinter’ the venue for this carefully-managed PR stunt was London’s Olympic Park.

Looking resplendent in its new Photon Red paintwork, the I-Pace (which wasn’t wearing number plates, despite being ‘on the road’) posed for photos next to the Lee Valley velodrome and in moody strip-lit car parks.

“Dramatic and powerful”

Jaguar I-Pace in London

Jaguar’s director of design, Ian Callum, said: “Driving the concept on the streets is really important for the design team. It’s very special to put the car outside and in the real-world. You can see the true value of the I-Pace’s dramatic silhouette and powerful proportions when you see it on the road, against other cars.”

The four-wheel-drive I-Pace is powered by a 90kWh lithium-ion battery and can hit 60mph in around four seconds. Charging to 80 per cent capacity takes just 90 minutes and a range of more than 300 miles is promised.

The production I-Pace will be shown later this year, with sales starting in the second-half of 2018. Interested? You can register on the Jaguar website now to be among the first owners.

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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.

Could this Qashqai-sized SUV save Mitsubishi's fortunes?

Could this Qashqai-sized SUV save Mitsubishi’s fortunes?

Could this Qashqai-sized SUV save Mitsubishi's fortunes?

Mitsubishi has teased a new SUV ahead of its reveal at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show – and hinted that it could be a ‘turning point’ for the brand in the UK.

The Qashqai-sized crossover is rumoured to be named the Eclipse and will sit between the ASX and the Outlander in the company’s range.

The Japanese carmaker saw UK registrations plummet in 2016 – down nearly 20% to 18,237 sales last year. In recent years it’s been relying on sales of its popular Outlander PHEV crossover, which has been hit by reduced government incentives for plug-in hybrid cars.

Mitsubishi teased the new crossover in concept form as the XR-PHEV II at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show.

At the time, Mitsubishi UK’s managing director Lance Bradley told Motoring Research it had potential to double the manufacturer’s sales figures in the UK.

He explained that, in 2015, Mitsubishi UK was expecting to sell 10,000 Outlander PHEVs. As the C-segment crossover sector is three times larger than the D-segment SUV, the firm could potentially sell 30,000 Qashqai-rivals a year.

“I’m not saying that’s going to happen,” Bradley told Motoring Research. “We’re going to be conservative in our numbers. But when I went to Japan, Aikawa [former president and chief operating officer of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation] ambitiously suggested that it might be possible.”

The new crossover will use a shortened version of the Outlander’s platform and will feature a more stylish, coupe roofline.

Although a plug-in hybrid version would appear to make sense following the success of the Outlander PHEV, reduced incentives and high costs mean the firm might stick to more conventional powertrains for the Eclipse.

A new 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine is expected to be popular, while a 2.2-litre turbodiesel will also be offered. The SUV will be available with two- and four-wheel-drive powertrains.

Could this Qashqai-sized SUV save Mitsubishi's fortunes?

Could this Qashqai-sized SUV save Mitsubishi's fortunes?

Could this Qashqai-sized SUV save Mitsubishi's fortunes?

Mitsubishi has teased a new SUV ahead of its reveal at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show – and hinted that it could be a ‘turning point’ for the brand in the UK.

The Qashqai-sized crossover is rumoured to be named the Eclipse and will sit between the ASX and the Outlander in the company’s range.

The Japanese carmaker saw UK registrations plummet in 2016 – down nearly 20% to 18,237 sales last year. In recent years it’s been relying on sales of its popular Outlander PHEV crossover, which has been hit by reduced government incentives for plug-in hybrid cars.

Mitsubishi teased the new crossover in concept form as the XR-PHEV II at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show.

At the time, Mitsubishi UK’s managing director Lance Bradley told Motoring Research it had potential to double the manufacturer’s sales figures in the UK.

He explained that, in 2015, Mitsubishi UK was expecting to sell 10,000 Outlander PHEVs. As the C-segment crossover sector is three times larger than the D-segment SUV, the firm could potentially sell 30,000 Qashqai-rivals a year.

“I’m not saying that’s going to happen,” Bradley told Motoring Research. “We’re going to be conservative in our numbers. But when I went to Japan, Aikawa [former president and chief operating officer of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation] ambitiously suggested that it might be possible.”

The new crossover will use a shortened version of the Outlander’s platform and will feature a more stylish, coupe roofline.

Although a plug-in hybrid version would appear to make sense following the success of the Outlander PHEV, reduced incentives and high costs mean the firm might stick to more conventional powertrains for the Eclipse.

A new 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine is expected to be popular, while a 2.2-litre turbodiesel will also be offered. The SUV will be available with two- and four-wheel-drive powertrains.