SUVs are now one of the fastest growing segments of the car industry, and it’s now a common sight to see your typical junior executive upgrade from his saloon or estate to see the road from a slightly higher perspective. Led primarily by the Europeans, an influx of these mini Goliaths are making their way onto a street near you in such an expeditious fashion, that it’s unsurprising to see new compact SUVs pop up every other week.
But we’re not complaining. Competition is always good for the industry and most importantly, for the consumers. The rat race to create the most desirable, powerful and value-for-money model has resulted in some pretty appealing compact SUVs in the market now. Despite being below average on the size chart, they retain their ability in keeping the spirit of adventure alive with their commanding driving position, practicality, muscular good looks, and updated technology.
Here are the best compact SUVs you should be eyeing for 2018.
Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe
With a lower, slightly longer and more raked rear roofline, the GLC Coupe owes its polished coupe-like styling to the popular C-Class, and is undoubtedly one of this list’s finest looking. Its interiors are equally aesthetically blessed with plenty of standard tech features, and spacious seating arrangement for all passengers.
If you’re a big fan of grunt, always check the AMG box. The GLC 43 AMG is equipped with a 362hp twin-turbocharged V6 engine, while the GLC63 has a whopping 469hp V8 or the big daddy of them all: The 503hp S spec.
Favourite feature: The monstorous V8 from top of the line AMG engines. Not only is the rush of power a glorious occasion, the way the exhaust barks like a muscle car’s V8 will have you downshifting over and over again.
The latest version of the X3 really kicks things up from the Bavarian manufacturer. Now in its third generation, the X3 is a refreshing new take on the SUV, combining off-roading capabilities with Autobahn cruising finesse.
For a souped up take on this compact luxury crossover SUV, opt for the M40i Sport edition, which delivers 355hp and a staggering 500Nm of torque when mated with the eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. BMW also promises an increase in interior space, now that it’s a larger overall vehicle than the previous generation. The latest iDrive system further enhances the SUV’s technology with a larger screen and hand gesture functionality.
Favourite feature: The interior design. It’s typical BMW with a supreme driving position; the centre stack is angled towards the driver too. A sophisticated colour and material palette punctuate the snazzy cockpit, and you’ll be hard pressed to go wrong with any combination.
The second-gen might still be well on its way, but no list would be complete without the Macan. Its performance and usability has set new benchmarks in its class — a remarkable achievement considering it’s Porsche’s first compact SUV. The top-spec Turbo iteration with Performance Package offers up life-changing straight-line thrills from its 434 horsepower twin-turbocharged V6 that’s mated to its ultra-quick PDK dual clutch transmission.
Favourite feature: Razor-sharp handling. The Macan really leaves the impression of being in a two-door coupe from behind the wheel. There’s minimal body roll with enough feel through the steering wheel to leave you always feeling in control.
Now in its second generation, the Q5 offers everything you’d expect from a modern Audi: Solid interior quality and ergonomics, the latest entertainment gadgets, and a highly capable Quattro all-wheel drive system. A top of the range SQ5 model serves up 354hp and a distinctive sporting driving experience, though it can be tamed to be comfortable and quiet when you’re not looking for a hair-raising ride. Inside, you’ll find the same premium look and feel that crossover buyers yearn for, with a sensible cabin that’s equipped with the same techy goodness as its racier counterparts.
Favourite feature: The Virtual Cockpit. The 12.3-inch display instrument cluster has an abundance of features that are easy to toggle between. Our favourite is the GPS function which features Google Earth in high definition — never has navigation looked better in an in-car display.
Range Rover Evoque
This little Range Rover offered a breath of fresh air to the world of small luxury compact SUVs when it entered production in 2011. Designed by Gerry McGovern, the Evoque took the brand in a new direction when it merged its raw off-roading capabilities with highly contemporary styling. Victoria Beckham even assisted with designing a special edition. Currently, a top of the range model features 286hp, and while the interior space isn’t something to brag about, it’s still decent for a family with kids.
At the end of the day, the Evoque still offers something the others sometimes struggle to match: Pure class.
Favourite feature: The soft top on the two-door convertible variant (pictured above). Not many compact SUVs (or even regular SUVs, for that matter) offer the opportunity to take on the wild outdoors with such abandon.
The F-Pace might be the brand’s first SUV, but it fully embodies the Jaguar experience, albeit at a higher seating position than you’re used to. Mixing sporty performance with elevated levels of luxury is Jag’s thing, but you’ll still be impressed if you ever hear one of these at full pelt.
Up to 380hp is on tap from the famous supercharged 3.0-litre V6, powering the rigid aluminium structure with its sharp steering and superb body control. Inside, digital screens throughout blend modern practicalities with design cues that exude old Jaguar charm.
Favourite feature: Practicality of the boot. With the rear seats up there are 948 litres of space. The floor is reversible, offering traditional carpet on one side and a durable rubber base on the other. Hands full? Gesture sensors enable you to open the tailgate by simply shaking your foot under sensor points at the rear bumper. Doing this little dance enables easy access and also unfortunately, a bit of entertainment for anyone watching.
The XC60 is the latest in the Swedish manufacturer’s new line-up of sleek SUVs. Although once known for its boxy soccer mom station wagons, the latest from Volvo is anything but boring. With sharp exotic lines, a sophisticated interior with the latest technology, advanced safety features and engines delivering up to 407hp, this Swede is sure to excite.
Favourite Feature: The use of apps to allow access to the vehicle. For example, if a friend wants to borrow the car, you can grant them access to it via their smartphone. Volvo also has an in-car delivery service that allows you to get your online shopping delivered straight to the boot of your car. The courier gets a one-time access code that allows them to open and close the vehicle.