Super-SUVs combine performance, luxury and high-riding appeal - and these are the best of the breed
25 June 2018

Super-SUVs appear to have it all: interiors that rival the very best luxury cars; performance that competes with the best super-saloons; that all important high-riding driving position.

This most extravagant breed of SUV, which barely existed a decade ago, also carries a price of entry that ensures they are among the most exclusive cars on our roads.

We think the 10 cars below are some of the best of their kind, or are set to shake up the segment once they arrive.

1. Bentley Bentayga

The Bentayga is the first true ‘luxury’ SUV worthy of comparison with the market’s most luxurious limousines. It adds greater capability and usability to Bentley’s range than the firm has hitherto offered, only falling short of the ride isolation offered by those more traditional luxury offerings.

While the Bentayga lacks the outright speed and agility of the very quickest SUVs, the fact that it can be compared with them while offering vastly more grandeur emphasises its accomplishment. In the fairest of terms, it must simply be acknowledged as one of the most complete and compelling luxury products in the world.

Save money with new Bentayga deals on What Car?

Our Verdict

Land Rover Range Rover review hero front

The fourth-generation Range Rover is here to be judged as a luxury car as much as it is a 4x4

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

2. Range Rover SVAutobiography

Land Rover’s most prestigious model keeps the technical ingredients of the regular Range Rover and stirs in a double shot of splendour. That means it can still venture off road onto the mucky stuff, but its occupants will be hugged by the finest of Land Rover interiors – one that includes perforated leather seats and remote control four-zone climate control.

The SVAutobiography Dynamic comes exclusively with a supercharged 5.0-litre V8 producing 557bhp, so cross-country pace is fast too. It’s the price of a house, but if you’re needed back at the manor and want to drive (or be driven) as the crow flies, there really is no better place to sit.

Save money with new Range Rover deals on What Car?

3. Bowler Bulldog V8

Derbyshire-based Bowler Motorsport has made a name for itself developing ultra-specialised rally-raid versions of various Land Rover models. The Bulldog is its latest ware, but don't be fooled by the aestehtic: with an entirely new chassis designed in-house and bespoke bodywork, this is more of a silhouette racer with licence plates.

Unexpectedly good on the road, the 5.0-litre V8-powered Bulldog is simply sublime off it, where its suspension absorbs topography with clinical ease. What's more, Bowler is now building a luxuriously upholstered version, and what a prospect that is.

 

4. Lamborghini Urus

Lamborghini’s first large-scale foray (so that excludes the LM002) into the world of SUVs just so happens to be with the segment’s most extreme model yet. Powered by a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8, the four-wheel-drive Urus will hit 62mph in 3.6sec and has a top speed of 190mph – giving it proper supercar numbers.

But the hardcore Lambo SUV has one of the most divisive designs in motoring and, more significantly, begs the question as to whether a high-riding car weighing more than two tonnes can be made to handle like a proper Lamborghini.

Save money with new Urus deals on What Car?

5. Mercedes-AMG G 63

Mercedes' reimaginging of the G-Wagen – now formally known as the G-Class – has to be regarded as a success. It retains the rich character and off-road ability of the much-loved original but thanks for a new front suspension architecture and steering, its now handles in a fashion more friendly than frightening.

And, of course, there's still a ludricous AMG offering with a hefty price-tag and far more power than you'd ever need in this sort of car. In fact, for all the cabin refinement Mercedes has introduced in the revitalised G-Class, the 63 AMG model is still defined by its shouty V8 engine, in this case the same twin-turbo 4.0-litre unit found in the AMG GT sports cars. 

6. Rolls-Royce Cullinan

Rolls-Royce's entry into the SUV segment uses a developed version of the Phantom’s 6.8-litre V12 engine, making it one of the market’s most powerful off-roaders. It also sits at the top of the tree in terms for luxury, higher than even the Bentley Bentayga, though the Cullinan can't match the on-road dynamism of its old foe.

Don't think that this Rolls doesn't justify its raised ride-height, either. The Cullinan boasts good wading depth and impression axle articulation, even if it does ultimately fall short of the standards set by the Range Rover. Of course, very little of this matters if you can't bring yourself to like the way this car looks, and for £250,000 before options, we'd certainly expect something easier on the eye. 

7. BMW X7 M50i

With a grille like that, BMW's most senior SUV hasn't exactly slipped into segment without attracting controversy, and in M50i specification it surely won't go unnoticed in any environment. The X7 M50i seems to be the car nobody was asking for, and yet of all the outlandish super-SUVs on this list, as a BMW there is arguably greater justification for its existence than many.

When it arrives in the UK, the X7 M50i will get a 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 with 523bhp and 553lb ft, plus a rear-biased four-wheel-drive system with an electronic M-Sport differential. With air suspension and the same interior as the regular X7, it'll likely be impressive to drive and own, if not entirely loveable.   

 

8. Twisted T40S

Don’t expect all the original Defender's usual faults to be solved by throwing money at it. To sit in, it's still a Defender; okay, so the T40s's seats are a revelation and the Momo wheel leaves more room for your knees, but it remains cramped for the driver and unrefined on a long journey.

The car we tested was specced up to £116,000. Is it worth that? Objectively, no. However, most of us view the world quite differently from Twisted's T40s V8 customers when it comes to finances. If you can stomach the price, you are getting a truly bespoke service, a genuinely better-handling and better-riding Defender, and one that has an absolute gem of an engine.

9. Mercedes-AMG GLS 63

Mercedes bills this as ‘the S-Class of SUVs’, but the interior doesn’t feel as plush as you’d hope inside; the Audi Q7 has it beat. But not even the Q7 can match the big Merc’s imposing character.

Few SUVs have a more dramatic engine, either. Its twin-turbo 5.5-litre V8 produces 577bhp and can propel the big SUV to 62mph in 4.6sec, so if your tastes demand scale and power, there’s not much on sale that has more muscle than the GLS 63, save for the full-fat Range Rover SVAutobiography, of course – but that car is about £35,000 more expensive.

Save money with new GLS deals on What Car?

10. Aston Martin DBX

Keen to cash in on the lucrative ultra-luxury SUV market, Aston Martin is set to launch its first SUV this year. It’ll be based on the DBX concept that was unveiled at the 2015 Geneva motor show, although the production model will be called the DBX.

Four-wheel drive will be implemented for the first time, while the range-topping version will make use of Aston’s charismatic 5.2-litre V12 - so it should at least have a fairly phenomenal soundtrack. The Mercedes-AMG V8 will make an appearance, as will an all-electric variant.

Join the debate

Comments
5

26 June 2018

The "Bottom 10" list is identical.

23 December 2018

i prefer No4  (Mercedes-AMG G 63)

22 January 2019

Not really clear what the marking points are. Theres a bit of real off-road capability with the Land Rovers, yet a lot of references to luxury (looking at the Bentayga). Maybe two seperate comparisons would make more sense?

4 September 2019

A perfect source for car ideas! I've been wanting to get an SUV and this article has provided me with information that I need especially for commercial roofing huntsville al

30 September 2019

Man that Aston Martin is so slick! But the Rolls Royce is just pure luxury, royalty. It is such an unbelieveable car line, beautiful vehicles from a solid company. Definitely would be an honor to drive one some day! Alex | https://www.phothboothwinnipeg.com

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week