Best new petrol SUVs

Want to drive a high-riding SUV, but don't want a gruff diesel engine? We've rounded up the best petrol-powered models for UK roads

James Wilson
Jun 10, 2022

In the past decade or so, the majority of SUVs have been powered by diesel engines. With extra weight to carry around, the strong power delivery of a diesel made sense, because they helped to shrug off tasks like towing and off-roading while still returning reasonable fuel economy figures on long motorway journeys. The likes of the Nissan JukeVolkswagen Tiguan and seven-seat Land Rover Discovery were all popular with a diesel engine.

Question marks over diesel emissions and the future of diesel fuel have caused a dramatic fall in the number of diesel cars sold in the UK, and while their impressive fuel economy means a diesel model can still save you money if you cover more than 20,000 miles per year, opting for a petrol engine is a more secure financial choice for the long term.

As a result, petrol SUVs are now beginning to gain popularity, and for drivers racking up 12,000 miles per year or less, petrol power is often the best option. Petrol models traditionally cost a bit less than diesel, hybrid or electric alternatives, and this saving can outweigh the reduced running costs that come with those versions. Petrol engines have other benefits, too, they're generally smoother and more refined, while they also tend to offer lower Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) bands for company-car drivers.

All that is left to find out is which models are the best you can buy. We've picked out 10 contenders that we think offer the best value for money, the creme-de-la-creme of affordable petrol SUVs, with everything from teeny weeny three-door models to super-sized seven-seaters to choose from.

The best petrol SUVs 2022

1. Peugeot 3008

Our pick Peugeot 3008 1.2 PureTech
Used deals from £13,631
Monthly finance from £235*

While the old Peugeot 3008 was dull, both to look at and to drive, the latest version comes with standout styling and a very attractive price tag.

It comes with a choice of two petrol engines; a frugal 1.2-litre unit and a more powerful 1.6-litre - with fuel economy figures of 47mpg and 40mpg respectively. You might expect the small 1.2-litre petrol to struggle under the weight of a car this size, but even at motorway speeds it copes very well, delivering smooth and surprisingly effective power which is far more pleasant to work hard than the 1.6, which comes with a dimwitted automatic gearbox that only serves to cancel out its power advantage and add stress to the driving experience.

One thing to note with the 3008 is that it has a tiny steering wheel. Rather than looking at the dials through it, you peer at them over the wheel. Some love it but some find it impossible to set a comfortable driving position where they can see the dials clearly.


2. Dacia Duster

Our pick Dacia Duster 1.3 TCe
Used deals from £6,999
Monthly finance from £133*

The petrol Dacia Duster models are so fantastically affordable - in cash and PCP finance terms - it makes up for lower fuel economy figures than the more expensive diesel models. That said, an entry-level Duster houses one of the most basic interiors on UK roads, so it’s worth paying more for a slightly higher specification petrol model.

Move up to Comfort trim and you will be treated to air-conditioning, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality, and cruise control. On the engine side of things, there are three petrol options to choose from, with 90hp to 150hp. As the Duster is relatively light for an SUV, all provide reasonable performance.

Furthermore, because Dacia is owned by Renault, much of the engineering found in the Duster is shared with more upmarket vehicles. If you're used to driving pricier cars and think you'll find the Duster a little downmarket for you, it's worth giving it a chance for this reason. Avoid the super-basic Access model and you'd never guess that the Duster had such a low price.


3. BMW X1

Our pick BMW X1 xDrive20i
Used deals from £17,000
Monthly finance from £255*

BMW updated the X1 in 2019 and while it isn’t a massive overhaul of the outgoing model, BMW made changes in the right places.

Petrol engines come in three guises currently, and all offer strong fuel economy instead of lots of power, although this could well change as BMW is tending to shoehorn increasingly powerful engines into its SUVs. Automatic transmissions are popular across the range, with only the entry-level version still coming with the choice of a manual gearbox.

There's even an 'xDrive' four-wheel-drive version of the more powerful 178hp 20i engine, making this X1 better suited to some light off-roading, but this does have a negative impact on fuel economy.


4. Citroen C3 Aircross

Our pick Citroen C3 Aircross 1.2 PureTech
Used deals from £9,500
Monthly finance from £148*

The Citroen C3 Aircross goes a long way to show that Citroen is still king of the hill when it comes to quirky cars. Even before you get inside, its distinctive front end and colourful plastic trims give you the impression it's a car that deviates from the norm.

It’s available with two petrol engines, each offering a different combination of power and economy. The top one, called PureTech 130 S&S - and also available in the Peugeot 3008 above - offers the best blend of the two.


5. Audi SQ2

Our pick Audi SQ2 2.0 TFSI
Used deals from £25,950
Monthly finance from £435*

Performance cars are normally powered by petrol engines (save for a few oddballs) and the Audi SQ2 continues this trend. Where it differs, is in its ride height. Fast cars normally sit low to the ground, but being a crossover, the SQ2 offers a bit more height, making it easier to get in and out of.

Flatten the accelerator and it will devour the road ahead at a staggering pace, too. The 0-62mph sprint takes only 4.8 seconds and it’s not just fast in a straight line. Furthermore, Audi’s Quattro four-wheel drive means you will be able to confidently exploit its 300hp all year round, without worrying about the tyres spinning power away.


6. Skoda Karoq

Our pick Skoda Karoq 1.0 TSI
Used deals from £14,000
Monthly finance from £205*

The Skoda Karoq is available with either a 1.0-litre petrol engine with 110hp, or a more powerful 1.5-litre TSI offering 150hp. Both can return over 40mpg with a gentle right foot, and there's the option of either a manual or sophisticated automatic gearbox.

We reckon the smaller engine is ideal for town driving, while the 1.5-litre comes into its own on quicker roads and the motorway. It's also a good idea to pick the more potent engine if you plan on regularly loading the Karoq up with passengers and luggage, or towing a caravan.

Replacing the popular Skoda Yeti, the Karoq is a medium-sized SUV with five seats that's got a decent boot. It also offers secure and fun handling, while riding smoothly over worn-out tarmac.


7. Seat Arona

Our pick Seat Arona 1.0 TSI
Used deals from £11,295
Monthly finance from £173*

Based on the Seat Ibiza - itself an impressive small car - the Seat Arona offers extra interior space and a higher driving position to make it feel more like a traditional off-roader.

Prices start at around £20,000 for the entry-level petrol SE model, even though you are treated to air-conditioning, Bluetooth and cruise control. PCP finance costs are even more appealing - especially as metallic paint comes as standard, so you won’t have to pay more per month to have the colour combination you want.

On top of this, there are a couple of petrol engines to choose from and economy is claimed to be an impressive 46mpg for the most frugal one, which isn’t a million miles away from the more expensive diesel alternative.


8. Kia Stonic

Our pick Kia Stonic 1.0 T-GDi
Used deals from £11,999
Monthly finance from £177*

The Kia Stonic, like all Kias, comes with a long seven-year warranty. That means seven years of protection should things go wrong. And even if you buy a four-year-old model, you’d still have the same length warranty as most new cars.

As for engine choices, there are only two versions of the same 1.0-litre with 100hp or 120hp. Both of these feel powerful and responsive enough for a small SUV, thanks to a power-boosting turbocharger.

Inside you will find a smart cabin, which suits the car’s modern design. As standard, there's a good smattering of equipment, including air-conditioning, Apple CarPlay and cruise control. Prices start from around £19,000 so the Stonic is affordable, too, with excellent finance deals typically available.


9. Volvo XC90

Our pick Volvo XC90 T6
Used deals from £32,250
Monthly finance from £575*

The latest Volvo XC90 was launched in 2014 but has received some light overhauls in more recent years. Irrespective of age, the XC90 still looks sharp as a tack and it's very desirable thanks to the fact it offers a sumptuous interior, impressive technology and space for seven occupants.

The updates Volvo made to the XC90 in 2019 included a reshuffle of the engine lineup - the T5 and T6 2.0-litre petrol engines became B5 and B6 with mild hybrid assistance. If you want a manual gearbox however, you are out of luck as both options come with an automatic gearbox only. This eight-speed transmission does suit the XC90 perfectly, offering smooth shifts for a relaxing experience behind the wheel.


10. Mini Countryman

Our pick Mini Countryman Cooper S
Used deals from £10,995
Monthly finance from £213*

Yep, Minis are no longer the tiny vehicles they used to be. The Countryman may be Mini’s largest and most practical car and sacrifices some of its fun-loving nature, but it’s still enjoyable to drive.

There are three petrol engines to choose from; a standard 1.5-litre producing 136hp, a 178hp 2.0-litre unit available with Cooper S models, and the most powerful 2.0-litre John Cooper Works model with 306hp.

Although the less powerful Cooper and Cooper S models offer less performance, they do boast better fuel economy and represent much more affordable options for the stylish Countryman.


*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

Buyacar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.


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