The UK’s top 10 fastest SUVs 2021
When you want luxury, space and performance, a premium SUV can be the perfect solution
With the trend for SUVs continuing unabated, brands are continuing to push the boundaries with flagship versions of their most popular SUV models. The common denominator is extreme performance, with prices to match.
It all started with the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, which arrived at the start of the noughties with 444bhp from its 4.5-litre V8. 0-62mph in five seconds seemed utterly mad for an SUV back then but now the Cayenne is only fifth in our top 10 list of outrageously fast SUVs.
There are an increasing number of high-performance options across the board, with Ford getting in on the act with the Ford Puma ST and the Hyundai Kona N due in the summer of 2021. Other mainstream family SUVs with added performance include the SEAT Cupra Ateca and BMW X2 M35i, while at the other end of the scale there’s the Maserati Levante Trofeo and Aston Martin DBX.
Most of the fastest SUVs have thirsty petrol engines but the Tesla Model X at the top of our list proves you don’t have to be at odds with the environment to enjoy an SUV with supercar pace.
The Tesla is all-electric, as is the Jaguar I-Pace, but a number of plug-in hybrids also offer eye-opening straight-line speed, even if they don’t make the top 10 list.
You may be surprised to learn that in spite of their weight and higher centres of gravity, many of these speed machines also handle with aplomb thanks to highly advanced electronic suspension systems.
So keep reading for our rundown of the fastest SUVs on sale in the UK today.
If you want to accelerate from a standstill to licence-losing speeds as quickly as possible, you need electric power. More precisely, you need the Tesla Model X Plaid, with a ‘Ludicrous’ driving mode that means 0-62mph takes just 2.7 seconds. That’s only a couple of tenths of a second slower than a Bugatti Chiron but the Model X is a bulky seven-seat SUV capable of near-silent cruising.
Tesla boasts that its triple-motor 1,006bhp Plaid is the best performing SUV ever built, and who are we to argue? When you’re not using the full potential of the electric motors, Tesla promises a range of 340 miles between charges.
Not even Lamborghini can ignore the popularity of SUVs, and the Urus is already its bestselling model. It may have a higher ground clearance and more doors than typical Lamborghinis, but it’s still just as attention-grabbing - and just as fast.
The VW Group’s ownership of Lamborghini means the Urus has the same 641bhp V8 engine as the Porsche Cayenne. Acceleration to 62mph takes a scant 3.6 seconds and it won’t stop until it reaches 190mph.
So far, Audi has only given the RS treatment to two of its SUVs, with one being the flagship Q8. As you’d expect, it’s suitably powerful; the 4.0-litre twin-turbo engine - shared with the Audi RS6 - kicks out 592bhp, which is sufficient for a 0-62mph-time of 3.8 seconds.
If you spec the optional Dynamic Plus package, the top speed is raised from 155mph to 189mph - a whisker off the much costlier Urus. The RS Q8 isn’t cheap, though; all versions have six-figure price tags.
The Porsche Cayenne Coupe is a sleeker version of the Cayenne SUV and your choice will come down to the styling, as in many respects the two cars are identical. They both have a range-topping Turbo S E-Hybrid PHEV model, which offers a staggering amount of power. You get 671bhp, the ability to sprint from 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 183mph, plus most people’s commutes can be done on electric power if you keep the battery topped up.
The Coupe is a little bit more expensive than the regular Cayenne SUV, but it’s small change when you’re spending over £120,000.
The BMW X5 is now in its fourth generation, and it’s more practical but still manages to be an SUV for keen drivers. That’s especially true of the range-topping X5 M model, with its 616bhp 4.4-litre V8. Four-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission allow the X5 M to exactly match the 3.8-second 0-62mph time of the Cayenne Coupe, RS Q8 and Stelvio Quadrifoglio, and its 180mph top speed (removing the 155mph limiter is an option) is impressive.
The biggest strength of the X5 M is the way it hides its 2.3-tonne weight. There’s a huge amount of grip and the car feels surprisingly playful thanks to a four-wheel-drive system that sends the majority of the engine’s power to the rear wheels. The steering is well weighted too, enhancing the feeling of agility in corners.
The Alfa Romeo Stelvio is the company’s first SUV but it’s still almost as good to drive as any other Alfa. Even the standard Stelvio offers agility, responsive steering and little body roll, and the Quadrifoglio adds breathtaking performance to the recipe.
Its Ferrari-developed 2.9-litre V6 may be the smallest engine in any of the cars on this list, but it produces 503bhp and a 0-62mph-time of just 3.8 seconds. The top speed is 176mph, while the styling and badge also add to the appeal.
Before the Audi RS Q8 came along, the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S claimed the Nurburgring lap record for the fastest SUV. That, and it’s faster than the quickest Porsche Macan, should tell you all about the GLC tree-topper.
There are two versions with either 469bhp or 503bhp, and we expect most buyers to go for the latter. Both will struggle to hit 20mpg, but the 503bhp S version enables a 3.8-second 0-62mph sprint and a derestricted 174mph top speed. It also adds a racetrack pack and bigger wheels.
The Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S might be bigger and heavier than the AMG GLC, but an extra 100bhp means it’s just as fast, in terms of both acceleration and top speed. Other markets get a 563bhp ‘base’ version, but only the full-fat 603bhp S variant is coming to the UK.
There may be a mild-hybrid system fitted, but don’t think the brawny GLE models will be in any way economical - driven carefully, you’ll manage around 24.5mpg.
Considering the Bentley Bentayga’s opulent image (and similarly opulent price tag), it’s fitting that it has one of the biggest engines on this list. The 6.0-litre W12 engine fitted in the flagship Bentayga Speed is a Bentley staple, and it’s no less effective in the two-and-a-half tonne SUV.
It needs 3.9 seconds to hit 62mph from a standstill, and its 190mph top speed is a fraction higher than that of the Urus, making the Bentayga Speed the fastest SUV in the world.
If you want a performance SUV with a luxury British image, then the Aston Martin DBX could be for you. A 542bhp twin-turbo 4.0-litre petrol engine propels the DBX from 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 181mph, despite the car’s 2.2-tonne weight.
Of all the super SUVs on this list, the DBX is one of the best to drive. It’s lighter than some rivals and an advanced chassis setup with air suspension gives the car a cornering ability that almost defies physics.
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