This most extravagant breed of SUV, which barely existed a decade ago, also carries a price of entry that ensures they are among the most exclusive cars on our roads.
We think the 10 cars below are some of the best of their kind or are set to shake up the segment once they arrive.
The Bentayga is the first true ‘luxury’ SUV worthy of comparison with the market’s most luxurious limousines. It adds greater capability and usability to Bentley’s range than the firm has hitherto offered, only falling short of the ride isolation offered by those more traditional luxury offerings.
While the Bentayga lacks the outright speed and agility of the very quickest SUVs, the fact that it can be compared with them while offering vastly more grandeur emphasises its accomplishment. In the fairest of terms, it must simply be acknowledged as one of the most complete and compelling luxury products in the world.
Land Rover’s most prestigious model keeps the technical ingredients of the regular Range Rover and stirs in a double shot of splendour. That means it can still venture off road onto the mucky stuff, but its occupants will be hugged by the finest of Land Rover interiors – one that includes perforated leather seats and remote control four-zone climate control.
The SVAutobiography Dynamic comes exclusively with a supercharged 5.0-litre V8 producing 557bhp, so cross-country pace is fast too. It’s the price of a house, but if you’re needed back at the manor and want to drive (or be driven) as the crow flies, there really is no better place to sit.
Lamborghini’s first large-scale foray (so that excludes the LM002) into the world of SUVs just so happens to be with the segment’s most extreme model yet. Powered by a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8, the four-wheel-drive Urus will hit 62mph in 3.6sec and has a top speed of 190mph – giving it proper supercar numbers.
But the hardcore Lambo SUV has one of the most divisive designs in motoring and, more significantly, begs the question as to whether a high-riding car weighing more than two tonnes can be made to handle like a proper Lamborghini.
The Mercedes-AMG G 63 is not a car you buy with your head; a 2.5-tonne, brick-shaped SUV with a stonking twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 under the bonnet never can be. But it is a car you can buy with your heart because first and foremost, this is a car for fun.
Dynamically speaking, it feels dated and frankly, unable to hide its weight at all. But the powerplant up front has Nascar vocals and the experience of being in ‘The G-Wagen’ means those with the money and a taste for hot SUVs might find a G 63 quite easy to justify.
Spending £120,000 on a Land Rover Defender 110 is ludicrous. Even spending that on one as thoroughly reworked as the Zulu2 seems daft. But people in the Middle East have a lot of money and want exclusivity. The Zulu2 offers them just that.
It’s not as sorted as a Twisted V8 Defender or anywhere near as good to drive as a modern performance SUV, but that’s beside the point. The real question is, is this car fun? The answer to that is undoubted ‘yes’. For the majority of potential buyers taken with the concept, that’s quite possibly all that matters.
Don’t expect all the original Defender’s usual faults to be solved by throwing money at it. To sit in, it’s still a Defender; okay, so the T40s’ seats are a revelation and the Momo wheel leaves more room for your knees, but it remains cramped for the driver and unrefined on a long journey.
The car we tested was specced up to £116,000. Is it worth that? Objectively, no. However, most of us view the world quite differently from Twisted’s T40s V8 customers when it comes to finances. If you can stomach the price, you are getting a truly bespoke service, a genuinely better-handling and better-riding Defender, and one that has an absolute gem of an engine.
Mercedes bills this as ‘the S-Class of SUVs’, but the interior doesn’t feel as plush as you’d hope inside; the Audi Q7 has it beat. But not even the Q7 can match the big Merc’s imposing character.
Few SUVs have a more dramatic engine, either. Its twin-turbo 5.5-litre V8 produces 577bhp and can propel the big SUV to 62mph in 4.6sec, so if your tastes demand scale and power, there’s not much on sale that has more muscle than the GLS 63, save for the full-fat Range Rover SVAutobiography, of course – but that car is about £35,000 more expensive.
Keen to cash in on the lucrative ultra-luxury SUV market, Aston Martin is set to launch its first SUV next year. It’ll be based on the DBX concept that was unveiled at the 2015 Geneva motor show, although the production model is expected to use the name ‘Varekai’.
Four-wheel drive will be implemented for the first time, while the range-topping version is expected to make use of Aston’s charismatic 5.2-litre V12 – so it should at least have a fairly phenomenal soundtrack. The Mercedes-AMG V8 is also expected to make an appearance, as will an all-electric variant.
Rolls-Royce will enter the SUV foray this December when its Cullinan hits the roads. Due with a developed version of the Phantom’s 6.8-litre V12 engine, it’ll be one of the market’s most powerful off-roaders but also among the most luxurious. It’ll have fellow German-owned British marque Bentley in its sights, with the Cullinan expected to overtake that model as the most luxurious offering in the segment.
Rolls-Royce is due to add a plug-in hybrid powertrain using technology from parent company BMW. The company has dismissed the idea of a diesel version due to their relative lack of refinement.
Due to arrive later this year, the SV Coupé will be the most expensive Range Rover ever produced. Each of the 999 examples that will be built will come with a starting price tag of £240,000 – meaning this two-door newcomer has the likes of the Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus firmly in its sights.
Despite its size – it’s 13mm longer than a standard Range Rover – it’s not like it’s going to be slow. Power is set to come from the same supercharged 5.0-litre V8 found in the SVAutobiography, which means 557bhp and 516lb ft and a 0-62mph time of 5.2sec. Oh, and because it’s a Range Rover, it’ll still run rings around any other SUV on this list when you take it off-road. Just mind those 23in alloys when you do.