Performance SUVs are among the most divisive cars on sale. They’re powerful, yet also heavy and often shaped in ways that will make an aerodynamicist wince.
But they’re effective, too, mixing sports car pace and big-car practicality with the – to some eyes – fashionable image of an SUV.
As this list of 10 cars shows, they’re all quite unusual and make this class one of the most eclectic in today’s new car market. These are cars for people who want it all – luxury, performance, space, desirability, plenty of four-wheel-drive capability and lots of driver appeal. So should we all so stubbornly refuse to compromise?
When Jaguar started making SUVs, it became a pretty bankable probability that it would one day make a performance SUV. And the day it did, it showed so many of its faster-moving German rivals where they’d been going wrong by launching a fast 4x4 brimming with pace and sporting sense of occasion, but also more laid back in its dynamic character than many.
The F-Pace SVR is the sports car for someone who wants a car to use on the office commute and school run, and for weekend errands – and not one so stiffly suspended that it feels like a gigantic, rolling vehicular contradiction. Its snarling 5.0-litre supercharged V8 gives it all the speed and drama a car of this size ever needed, and its purposeful handling is exciting, but its practical cabin and boot, and its pragmatic chassis tuning, also make it well suited to the real world.
A facelift in 2021 helped nudge the fantastic F-Pace SVR into first place here. Its body is now ever so slightly more aerodynamic. A new torque-converter automatic gerabox lifted straight from the Project 8 can now handle all of that V8’s 516lb ft in all gears. Suspension tweaks have made the model more rounded and usable, but without compromising its dynamism. The interior and infotainment have been updated, too. Make no mistake: this is a seriously impressive piece of kit.