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Best SUVs 2018

evo staff
9 Feb 2018

If you want an evo-approved fast car but need the practicality of an SUV, here are our top ten choices

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Page 3 of 3Page 3: Best SUVs 6-10

6. BMW X5/X6 M 

We decided to lump these two cars together, as mechanically they’re virtually identical. To choose between them is simply a case of picking your bodystyle – would sir like his uber-SUV as a practical boxy 4x4, or a slightly sleeker ‘coupe’?

No matter which you choose, you get the same engine under the bonnet – a twin-turbocharged V8 lump which has 567bhp on offer along with 500lb ft of torque which BMW claims is available from just 1500rpm.

> BMW X6M review - the rapid X6 is deeply impressive

All that grunt means both SUVs can reach 62mph from rest in under 5 seconds, and if you choose the M Driver’s package the top speed sits at 171mph (from its usual limited 155mph). It’s fair to say then, that these 2000kg+ SUVs are blisteringly quick.

The X5M and X6M offer up what we described as ‘an uncanny level of agility’ given its weight – with genuine balance and adjustability at the limit.

However, it’s impossible to forget you’re at the helm of a massive SUV, especially given the sky-high driving position. The weight impacts the ride as well, and the stiffness required to support that massive body means that the X5M and X6M struggle over broken and rutted surfaces. 

7. Range Rover Sport SVR

The original Range Rover Sport was a bit of a strange beast. Based on the same platform as the Land Rover Discovery 4, it lived up to the Range Rover name – but couldn’t do truly ‘sporty’ if its life depended on it, due to a monstrous kerb weight.

The current model is built largely of aluminium and is therefore much improved, making it the ideal platform for Land Rover’s SVR division to work its magic and produce one of the ultimate performance SUVs out there.

SVR produces cars with power and performance wrapped up in a civilised shell – think Porsche 911 Turbo rather than the GT3 RS – not stripped out track day models.

> Range Rover Sport SVR review - dynamic ability and off-road prowess

Rocking the same 542bhp supercharged V8 engine as the Jaguar F-Type R, the Sport belies its 2335kg bulk. This massive car is good for a 4.5-second 0-62mph time and will carry on to a mad 162mph top speed.

Another number of note is 8min, 14sec. That’s the time the SVR managed to set on the Nuburgring, which makes it one of the fastest SUVs of all time – albeit only when shod in Continental ultra high performance tyres.

What sets the SVR apart from other performance SUVs is its ability on the rough stuff. Put simply, it’s near enough unstoppable, and will easily shake off terrain that a BMW X5 M would cower at. It’s a brilliant party trick. 

8. BMW X3 M40i

Apart from the X5 M and X6 M models BMW has always shied away from injecting its SUVs with the full M DNA and it’s the same story with the X3 M40i – it might have an M in its designation but like the M140i and M240i this is an M-‘lite’ M Performance model. As a result you’ll get the company’s latest 3-litre straight-six but with a single (twin-scroll) turbo as opposed to an M car’s twin-turbo version.

It’s not all bad though as it develops a healthy 355bhp and 369lb ft of torque, good enough for a 4.8sec 0-62mph time – quicker than a Macan GTS by 0.4sec, while also bettering the Audi SQ5 by 0.6sec. Combined with BMW’s current gearbox of choice – the ubiquitous ZF eight-speeder – it does feel as rapid as the figures suggest.

There’s no fancy air-suspension here and even the adjustable dampers are an option but BMW has honed the X3’s basic set up to create tidy handling SUV. The xDrive four-wheel drive is set up to more readily send torque to the rear wheels than on a regular X3 while BMW’s M Performance rear diff varies the torque going to the individual rear wheels.

It’ll hustle its way down a back road very rapidly and effectively but ultimately it’s not quite as sharp or entertaining as the Macan and despite quick-witted steering, plenty of grip and an effective resistance to understeer it’s ultimately not quite as much fun as it should be.

9. Audi SQ7

The Audi SQ7 is a total heaven for geeks. The 4.0-litre V8 diesel is twin-turbocharged, but the impressive stuff is the electric compressor which spools up the turbos at low revs to aid response. It’s all mated to a high-tech 48V electrical system, which powers not only the usual electrical gubbins but the active suspension and anti-roll bars needed to keep such an enormous car in check.

Amazingly, it works. The SQ7 doesn’t feel like a seven-seat SUV – it feels like a rocketship. 664lb ft of torque from just 1000rpm endows the two-tonne-plus SQ7 with a 0-62mph sprint of under 5 seconds. It’s remarkably agile too, cornering flat and composed, with mighty grip from the quattro all-wheel drive.

Add this all to a gorgeous and spacious interior and the SQ7 might be the ultimate family hack. If you can stomach its £70k+ price point, that is.

10. Bentley Bentayga

What is there to say about Bentley’s SUV that hasn’t been said already? Biblically fast (186mph), massively heavy (2500kg-ish) and insanely priced (over £160,000 for the W12 model).

The Bentayga is a triumph of engineering. A 6.0-litre W12 engine lies behind the handcrafted chrome grille, giving the Bentayga a ridiculous turn of speed thanks to 600bhp and 663 lb ft of torque – 4.0 seconds to 62mph is impressive for a sports car, let alone an SUV weighing as much as a planet and carrying several sideboards-worth of wood veneer.

> Bentley Bentayga - is this the ultimate luxury SUV?

Alternatively, you can have the diesel model, which can’t match the W12’s pace but will at least go for about twice the distance without requiring a fuel stop. Not that the money will be a problem for most owners – Bentayga orders can run into the £200k’s without much difficulty – but fuel stops really are dirty, grubby things for aristocratic hands to be doing.

Admittedly the Bentayga isn’t exactly handsome, even by SUV standards, and some will be put off by the odd hint of Audi Q7 about the switchgear. Despite this, there’s no denying the Bentayga is a monster of an SUV, and one that’s bound to find favour with many millionaires all over the world.

Click on the list below to read our in-depth reviews of each car in this list... 

  1. Porsche Macan GTS
  2. Jaguar F-Pace
  3. Alfa Romeo Stelvio
  4. Porsche Cayenne Turbo
  5. Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S
  6. BMW X5/X6 M
  7. Range Rover Sport SVR
  8. BMW X3 M40i
  9. Audi SQ7
  10. Bentley Bentayga

 

Page 3 of 3Page 3: Best SUVs 6-10

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