Has it really been 16 years since Porsche scandalized the automotive world by introducing an SUV? A luxury SUV, no less. The sacrilege! The treason! The …
Profits? Yes, follow the money and all things lead to sport utility vehicles, even in the luxury and ‘supercar’ markets. Oh, they may be faux-by-fauxes, never to see a mud bog or sand dune. They probably won’t ever get dirty at all, just used as a minivan substitute to get to the local grocery store. But if you’re a luxury marque not building an SUV, either you have some very understanding shareholders or you’re about to get fired. Everyone’s got one now — save Ferrari, and that’s coming — so here are our picks for the top five super-est of super SUVs.
The Ferrari substitute
2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio
Alfa Romeo is Italian, owned by the same company that owns Ferrari — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles — and its top-of-the-line SUV, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio, is powered by an engine built by Ferrari. Oh, and every one I’ve ever seen was red.
The heart of anything super is the engine and the Stelvio’s is a gem. Unlike most of the other entrants fighting for super SUV-dom, the Alfa sports six pistons, but its massaged-by-Maranello heritage means it’s a stonker. Essentially the V8 from Ferrari’s 488 with two cylinders lopped off, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio pumps out 505 horsepower and 443 lb.-ft. of torque. Foot to the floor — and a healthy disregard for the price of gas — the four-leaf-clover (for that is what Quadrofolgio means in Italian) version of the Stelvio romps from zero to 100 km/h in about 3.5 seconds. A little while later — but not too much later! — it tops out somewhere in the vicinity of 283 km/h.
Of course, since it’s an Alfa, there are some, uhm, inconsistencies, including (in no particular order) rear seats not nearly as commodious as its SUV roofline would seem to suggest, the same again for cargo space, and the lack of a tilt/telescoping steering wheel. That said, it does “only” cost $95,000 — the cheapest of all the supers here — and it does have an engine built by Ferrari.
That’s no bull
2018 Lamborghini Urus
Actually it is. It’s an Urus, only the second SUV — remember the Rambo Lambo? — has ever produced. Barely on the market a year, the Urus is almost entirely responsible for Lambo’s incredible 51 per cent year-over-year sales growth. For that alone, may we all give thanks.
It also boasts a pretty incredible 641 horses from the Audi-sourced — you do remember that Lamborghini is owned by the Volkswagen Group, right? — 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8. Throttle cable stretched to the max — that’s just a metaphor; it’s drive-by-wire — the Urus’ 2,200 kilograms will hustle from zero to 100 km/h in just 3.6 seconds and rail around hairpins with a precision that would make a Cayenne Turbo jealous.
The interior is also far more luxurious and, for those of you doubting its off-road bona fides, rest assured Lamborghini knows mud. I’ve driven the Rambo Lambo and can attest that it’s as butch as SUVs get, so the ladies and gentlemen from Sant’Agata Bolognese didn’t have to stretch themselves too far imbuing the Urus with off-road nous. One also never tires of having to flip up the jet fighter-like little red toggle before hitting the starter button. Almost makes you forget that it costs $232,000. Almost.
Now this is just plain ridiculous
2020 Bentley Bentayga Speed
Despite being only slightly smaller than a house (and almost as heavy), the new Speed version of Bentley’s Bentayga is the fastest SUV in the world. There’s 306 km/h to be had if you wring its turbocharged W12’s — no, not a V12 — neck. And while that may be a paltry, single-digit faster than the Urus, it’s still an incredible 190 mph in something that at least pretends to be an off-road vehicle, not to weighing in at 2,515 kilograms and about as aerodynamic as a brick. It is hard, it seems, even for aerodynamic drag, to resist 626 horsepower.
Inside there’s sumptuous leather seating for four, five or even seven — yes, the Bentley Bantayga Speed, the 306 km/h minivan substitute! — and thanks to a 48-volt Dynamic Ride system that controls roll and pitch, the Speed is much more pavement demon than mud bogger. Even the rich don’t dare scratch $300,000+ SUVs.
Porsche is often given credit for starting — OK, popularizing — the luxury SUV segment. Now that SUVs are not only mainstream, but the mainstream in the luxury market, it might do well to remember the controversy Stuttgart brought upon itself when it first dared to launch the Cayenne. All manner of wrath and hellfire was sure to descend on those that dared to sully the Porsche nameplate with a sport utility vehicle. Soon enough, though, that disdain turned to envy and as other luxury marques started successfully copying the original Cayenne’s…
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