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Super-SUVs combine performance, luxury and high-riding appeal - and these are the best of the breed
Autocar
News
6 mins read
25 August 2020

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. Aston Martin DBX

The Aston Martin DBX is arguably one of 2020’s most significant new arrivals. So much of the British marque’s future success rests on its shoulders, and so far this newest addition to the ever-expanding super SUV class has done nothing but impress.

Crucially, it drives like an Aston should - albeit one that weighs in at 2.3 tonnes and stands some 1.68m tall. Its AMG-sourced 4.0-litre V8 provides thundering performance and an appealingly devilish soundtrack, while its capability as a long-distance tourer are fairly outstanding. It can go offroad, too.

Niggles include a slightly noisy low-speed ride and a cabin that gives some ground in terms of outright material appeal. A full road test will no doubt confirm just how capable this new-age Aston Martin really is, but for now it’s undoubtedly the driver’s pick in this exclusive market segment.

Save money with new DBX deals on What Car?

2. 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.

Though it may still not quite be an attractive car, a recent facelift more successfully aligned the Bentayga’s exterior design with those of the new Continental GT and Flying Spur. New infotainment systems also replace the ageing tech that appeared in the original, too.

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.

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

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3. 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?

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. When we put it through the full Autocar road test, it proved to be every bit as quick as those numbers suggest.

While the hardcore Lambo SUV has one of the most divisive designs in motoring and, it unequivocally answers the question as to whether a high-riding car weighing more than two tonnes can be made to handle like a proper Lamborghini. Put briefly, it sure can.

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Save money with new Urus deals on What Car?

5. 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.

6. 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.

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Save money with new G63 deals on What Car?

7. 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 of outright luxury, and undoubtedly prefers to be driven in a more laid-back, stately fashion than the likes of the Aston Martin DBX or Bentley Bentayga.

Don't think that this Rolls doesn't justify its raised ride-height, though. 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 a bit easier on the eye.

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8. BMW X7 M50i

BMW’s biggest, brashest SUV yet hasn’t arrived without its fair share of controversy. Most of this boils down to that excessive grille; but regardless of what your opinions might be as to the way it looks, the X7 is a surprisingly likeable SUV - particularly in range-topping M50i guise.

Its twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 lends an appealing blend of performance and refinement, while its cavernous interior is genuinely spacious enough to seat six adults comfortably. For a car so big it handles pretty tenaciously too, and its high-speed ride and stability are excellent. Around town it could ride with a degree more composure, and its interior could perhaps differentiate itself from that of the smaller X5 to a greater extent, but all told this is a highly appealing take on what a seven-seat performance SUV can be. 

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9. Mercedes-AMG GLS 63

Mercedes has long billed the GLS as the S-Class of SUVs. But while the current version of Stuttgart’s largest model might fall slightly short of that strap-line in terms of outride ride comfort and interior plushness, in full-fat AMG guise it can’t be accused of lacking any character.

Power comes from a 603bhp version of Affalterbach’s twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8, which allows this 2.5 tonne SUV to hit 62mph from a standstill in a ludicrous 4.2sec. And despite being absolutely massive, it’s surprisingly agile on tighter, twistier roads too. Chances are it’ll be ever so slightly more popular in North America than the UK, mind.

Save money with new GLS deals on What Car?

10. Twisted Automotive Defender V8

The prospect of a modified previous-generation Land Rover Defender that can cost up to £160,000 might sound like madness, but that’s exactly the sort of machine Yorkshire-based firm Twisted Automotive can make for you should you find the current crop of super SUVs are a bit too, well, modern and sophisticated.

Power comes from a thoroughly charismatic 6.2-litre Corvette LS3 crate V8, which can develop as much as 520bhp. That’s a lot for a 4x4 with a ladder-frame chassis and steering that could generously be described as indirect, but the resulting product is nonetheless hugely endearing. There’s seemingly endless scope for interior customisation, too, but don't think you'll be able to entirely erase the Defender's inherent ergonomic foibles.

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It might be Lamborghini Urus levels of money, but for those sold on the looks, the presence and the old-school appeal, there isn’t much else out there that's quite like it.

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Comments
6

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?

24 August 2020

Can I refer you to your article

Inside the industry: Why popularity is a problem for big-selling SUVs

25 August 2020

And yet it's a fully loaded Land Rover Defender 110 in v8 form I'd most want.  

I'd take the Aston over the Bentley and the Lamborghini

14 September 2020

Land Rover’s most prestigious

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