Best performance SUVs 2021

Rory White

08 Sep 2021

Despite physics being well and truly against them, it's still possible to have fun driving an SUV. Here are the best performance SUVs on sale today.

1. Porsche Macan GTS

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Porsche knows a thing or two about sports cars – it happens to build some of the best driver's cars in the world. So when it turns its attention to an SUV, you can be sure it'll be very good fun, despite the higher ride height and extra weight.

The Macan GTS is some of the most fun you can have on a country road in an SUV. It's not the most powerful Macan in the range (that's the Turbo) but it has 380hp which is more than enough, plus some choice equipment to make it goes around corners more quickly like lowered, adaptive suspension. Like all Macans, it steers sweetly and is comfy on all types of road, too.

2. Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio

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The best looking SUV on this list? That'll be this: the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio. It goes like stink too, thanks to a twin-turbo V6 petrol engine that kicks out 505hp to all four wheels.

It's a clever system, though, that will send power to the front wheels when you need traction out of slow corners, but also send it to the back when you want to have fun. Add in quick steering and a superb bark from the exhausts and you've got one of the best quick SUVs on sale.

3. Ford Puma ST

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The Ford Puma ST is the cheapest SUV here, but it punches way above its price in terms of driving pleasure. Ford's fizzing three-cylinder petrol engine is turbocharged to 200hp and it pulls hard across its rev band, plus the standard six-speed manual gearbox is a delight.

But the stand out feature has to be the way the Puma ST corners: its steering is quick and sharp and it feels extremely eager to change direction, yet always gives you the confidence to push on. It has to be an option if you want a fun SUV.

4. Audi SQ7

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The Audi SQ7 is here because if you have the budget, it is one of the best all-round cars, well, full stop. Its 500hp petrol V8 means it goes like the clappers and sounds brilliant, it's extremely quiet at a cruise, incredibly comfortable over bumps, has a wonderful interior that'll seat seven.

The cherry on top? It has all that but will still put a smile on your face when asked. It's difficult to understand how an SUV as large and heavy as the SQ7 feels so agile, but its rear-steering helps and so does the way it controls its body in tight bends. It's not the quickest around a track, but it is a superb do-it-all SUV.

5. Porsche Cayenne Coupe GT

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Both the regular Porsche Cayenne and Cayenne Coupe are brilliant cars to drive on the right road. The GT takes things a smidge further, though.

Its 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol engine has been upgraded to 640hp meaning 3.3 seconds to 62mph, plus the GT gets a raft of exterior and interior tweaks for a more aggressive look and better aerodynamics. It really is the ultimate expression of the Cayenne and is a very capable SUV to drive.

6. Jaguar F-Pace SVR

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Talking of V8s, few sound better than the one in this Jaguar F-Pace SVR. It truly is thunderous, and Jag has done a great job with the SVR's butch styling too.

But, importantly, Jaguar really knows its way around steering and suspension set-up – most of its models stand out for the way they drive. The SVR is no different, proving comfortable, yet every bit as devastatingly quick around corners as it is in the straight line. You'll be confident in it too because its grip and steering are both very impressive.

7. Aston Martin DBX

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Given this is Aston Martin's first attempt at a performance SUV, it has done a remarkably good job. Good thing too – it might just be the model that keeps it afloat. The DBX looks the business, is a comfortable car on long journeys and will surprise plenty of people off-road too.

More importantly, its sledgehammer 4.0-litre V8 engine uses twin-turbocharging to fire it along, sounding superb as it goes, plus it corners with more agility than it should given its size and weight.

8. Range Rover Sport SVR

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The Range Rover Sport SVR has a monster of a 575hp V8 beneath its bonnet, will happily lap racetracks, but is also designed to tackle off-road terrain beyond what any other car on this list can manage.

It'll also seat seven people inside, has all the latest infotainment, driving and safety tech and will turn heads with some outlandish exterior paint options.

9. BMW X3 M

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BMW's M cars are known the world over for the way they drive, but for BMW to manage it with the bigger, heavier X3 is just as impressive.

The X3 M comes with BMW's superb twin-turbo 3.0-litre straight-six, which produces 510hp and sounds savage when pushed hard. Plus, the M's fantastic steering, body control and clever all-wheel-drive system work together to make it superb fun to drive around corners.

10. Cupra Formentor

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Cupra is a relatively new brand in the UK, but it has the VW Group's extensive parts bin to call upon. Hence, the Formentor is fitted with the firm's strong 2.0-litre turbo petrol, which here produces 300hp through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive.

It has huge levels of grip, lovely steering, but also manages to smooth out broken roads extremely well given its sporting intentions. You'll probably have noticed, it's also a very good looking SUV.

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Rory White

08 Sep 2021