For decades, it seemed that car manufacturers thought strength and sophistication were mutually exclusive. You couldn’t have hardiness and luxury, they appeared to believe, sitting on the same four wheels. But then the high-end SUV came barrelling onto the scene; equal parts power and opulence.
Range Rover had a monopoly on the industry for many years, and practically invented the sector. But, as more manufacturers realised the sheer demand for tough, comfortable cars, the number of these sumptuous SUVs began to grow exponentially.
In fact, while reports show that 53 models populated this market in 2017, the same studies expect the number to almost double by 2023, to 93 models. So, in a sector saturated with different takes on the same lavish, powerful idea, the question is: Which luxury SUV is right for you?
The one for the individualist: Bentley Bentayga V8
You can always count on Bentley to pull out all the stops. And the Bentayga, the British brand’s three-year-old ultra-luxury crossover, is stop-pulling at its 4-litre, V8, twin-turbo-charged best. At least, it was when we took the latest diesel model for a spin in the Italian Alps earlier this year.
But the real charm of the Bentayga marque comes in its customisation. Thanks mostly to the bespoke Mulliner division of the British carmaker, buyers can choose unique paint, hide and carpet colours to create something truly individualistic — and just as strong.
Price: From £136,200
Engine: V8, 3996cc, twin-turbo, petrol
Power: 542bhp at 6000rpm
0-62mph: 4.4 seconds
Top speed: 171mph
The one for the traditionalist: Rolls-Royce Cullinan
Upon seeing some of the world’s most storied four-wheeled brands rolling out their first ever SUVs, one of the main concerns from motoring enthusiasts was that it was ‘selling out’ — both spiritually and mechanically. Thankfully, Rolls-Royce’s latest, the indomitable Cullinan, should silence the naysayers.
As Gentleman’s Journal found out when we recently took the Cullinan to the wilderness of Wyoming, this is a car that prompted Rolls-Royce to undertake an entire overhaul of their signature engineering and ‘magic carpet’ ride quality. And it works. The spirit of the heritage carmaker remains, but this is a new — slightly taller — spin.
Price: From £250,000
Engine: 6.75-litre twin turbocharged V12
0-62mph: 5.2 seconds
Top speed: 155mph
The one for the technologically-minded: Range Rover Autobiography
Another luxury SUV; another iconic British car manufacturer. But it’s not the muscle and power that stands Land Rover’s offering, the new Range Rover Autobiography, away from its stablemates, but rather the car’s brain. Recently reimagined, the new Range Rover has a selection of gadgets and tech so thoroughly thought-through that it is perfect for any tech-heads in search of a new car.
From automatic four-zone climate control and massage front seats, to pixel LED headlights and a 360° surround camera, this is the SUV of the future. But don’t be swayed by the plush interior and bevy of buttons; it’ll still take any terrain you can throw at it.
Price: From £100,900
Engine: 3.0 Litre Diesel
0-62mph: 7.4 seconds
Top speed: 130mph
The one for the off-road racer: Jaguar F-Pace R-Sport
Perhaps the ultimate performance SUV, Jaguar’s hat-in-the-ring is the F-Pace. Not only were we pleasantly surprised by the pared-down, reasonably quiet design cues of this humble monster, but the combination of thrilling performance, exceptional luxury and cutting-edge technology really is an education in the premium SUV.
Of course, that’s to be expected from Jaguar. And the 2.0 litre turbocharged diesel is another rabbit pulled from the hat by the manufacturer. It can take this 4X4 up to the heady heights of 121 mph — which, considering it can also take you up hill and down dale, is mightily impressive.
Price: From £31,450
Engine: 2.0 litre turbocharged diesel
0-62mph: 9.6 seconds
Top speed: 121mph
The one for the power brigade: Maserati Levante GTS
Don’t get us wrong, every car on this list can pack a punch. They’d have to, to drag such huge, opulent beasts across the off-road terrains throw at them. But the Maserati holds a powerful place in our hearts. That is to say, it’s chock full of raw power — a mighty 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 that roars with the unmistakable voice of Maserati.
But, despite sharing an engine with the brand’s flagship Quattroporte GTS, the Levante GTS has also been meticulously tuned for superior comfort, long-distance driving and grand-touring. It is elegantly-designed, upholstered in full-grain Pieno Fiore leather and features a 17-speaker Bowers & Wilkins Ultra Premium Audio System — to ensure it roars as loudly on the inside as it does on the out.
Price: From £110,000
Engine: 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8
0-62mph: 4.2 seconds
Top speed: 181mph
The one for the statement-maker: Lamborghini Urus
It’s simple really; Luxury SUVs are nothing like normal SUVs, and the Lamborghini Urus is nothing like a Luxury SUV. It’s a whole new breed, yet another subsection in an already niche market. If you were to just glance at this supercar-on-stilts, you might not even think it a true SUV. And yet it is — all four-wheel-drive, 6,800 rpm, 2,200 kilograms of it.
The Italian carmaker have cited ‘emotion’ as the main driver behind the development of this car. So, if you’re looking to make a statement, surely it’s the right choice for you? With all the thrill and head-turning abilities of a smaller Lamborghini, this extremely-proportioned car could be the craziest four-wheels currently on our world’s roads.
Price: From £164,950
Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8
0-62mph: 3.6 seconds
Top speed: 190mph
The one for affordable luxury: Porsche Macan S
Somehow, Porsche manage to keep their same DNA running through ever car they make. And, while that may be a good thing if you like this initial look, it could also put you off the entire range in one fell swoop. For those of you who fall into the former camp, however, the Macan S is most certainly the luxury SUV for you.
The side profile is typically Porsche. From this angle, every muscle looks flexed, like a predator ready to pounce. And it’s got a 3.0-litre, twin-turbo V6 with which to pounce. That means a top speed of 157mph and acceleration of 0 – 100 km in just 5.1 seconds.
Price: From £46,344
Engine: 3.0-litre, twin-turbo V6
0-62mph: 5.1 seconds
Top speed: 157mph
The one for the practically-minded: Volvo XC90
Trust the Swedes to make things simple. Volvo’s flagship luxury SUV has three similar levels of trim, a hybrid option and ultra-low CO2 emissions as a result. It’s that rarest of beasts; an über-powerful, über-practical option with an eco-minded slant.
And the luxury comes with a different spin, too. Rather than Bentley or Rolls-Royce’s sumptuous interiors, Volvo have rolled into the sector with chic Scandinavian simplicity — all linear walnut inlays and charcoal upholstery. This, then, is your ideal luxury SUV if you want comfort and ability. And, after all, what more would you want from a luxury SUV?
Price: From £49,900
Engine: 2.0 litre diesel
0-62mph: 7.8 seconds
Top speed: 137mph
Got your wheels? Now these are the 15 places you should explore in 2019…