High-performance crossovers make no sense, but that’s okay.
With the popularity of SUVs continuing to grow exponentially, it was inevitable that car firms would start making high performance versions. And, sure enough, they’re beginning to flood onto the market.
And, as more of these hot high-riding machines arrive, I’ve come to realise something. So it’s confession time: I actually quite like high performance hot SUVs. I know. Believe me, I know.
I know that the whole concept of a high-performance SUV is wrong. I know that the physics simply don’t work, that the high-riding stance and bulk that defines an SUV is the antithesis of the low centre of gravity and lightweight design that I know that, in essence, they’re cynical ploys to create a desirable ‘halo’ model that firms can charge a premium for by offering performance most people don’t really need.
And I know that, if you really want a hot machine with a large luggage capacity, a performance estate offers far fewer compromises and far more practicality.
And yet, the chance to sample a few hot SUVs in the last year or so has led me to develop a soft spot for them. It’s taken a while to work out why. But I think I’ve got there: I like them precisely because they make no sense, because the physics simply don’t work.
It helps that car firms eager to show off the performance credentials of their hot SUVs often do so on a race circuit – somewhere I imagine few buyers of such machines will ever take them. But that means that, in the last year or so, I’ve had the chance to try both the Cupra Ateca and the bonkers Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk (complete with 5.7-litre turbocharged Hemi engine) on circuits.
Obviously, a hot SUV on track is never going to rival a McLaren Senna or similar. But they’re actually quite fun: usually surprisingly nimble, and plenty powerful. In fact, it’s easy to forget you’re in a heavy SUV – until you reach a corner and start to brake.