Fast SUVs

Fancy a speedy SUV? There are now more options than ever. Let BuyaCar weed out the duds and point you in the direction of the best models

James Wilson
Oct 8, 2021

Fast SUVs can be very divisive. Some people love them, some people hate them. On the ‘love them’ side of the fence, motorists see fast SUVs as cars which are impressively quick, practical enough to work as the main family car and are easy to get in and out of, compared with sporty models that are very low to the ground. On the ‘hate them’ side of the fence, others see fast SUVs as unnecessary, fuel-guzzling monstrosities. Thankfully, the best models offer all the appeal of a big off-roader, with few of the downsides.

What constitutes a fast SUV can be a matter of opinion. In the case of this shortlist, we are classing models that can zoom from 0 to 62mph in less than six seconds as ‘fast’. It is mind-boggling that such acceleration is possible considering how big and heavy some SUVs are, and the fact that this level of performance used to only be available with two-seater performance-focused sports cars.

Two examples of the technology that helps to make fast SUVs quick are four-wheel-drive systems and automatic gearboxes. Four-wheel-drive can enable faster acceleration in powerful cars, by minimising the amount of wheelspin when picking up speed, hence most of the cars below send power from the engine to all four wheels rather than two. It is a similar story with gearboxes, as the best automatic gearboxes can change gears faster than a human can. Another bonus is that not having to change gear adds to the upmarket driving experience for many motorists.

Better still, drivers now have a broad selection of fast SUVs to choose from. German car makers tend to dominate this part of the market but British brands like Jaguar and Mini also make speedy SUVs. While fast SUVs can be some of the most expensive new cars on the road, all of the models below are available from £15,000 to £45,000 for models up to six years old. Opt for PCP finance and you can expect typical monthly payments to vary from around £250* to £650* per month.

Best fast SUVs

1. BMW X3 M40d/M40i

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It is easy to see why the BMW X3 is such a popular SUV. It looks the part with its classy styling and spacious interior without being too big to offer an easy drive and offers a sporty feel. It has the substance to back up the style, too, as the X3 is practical enough for most families and feels built to last. The driving position is also rather good, as there is plenty of adjustment in the seat and steering wheel for all sizes of driver.

If you're after a particularly quick X3, you will want to look at either the diesel X3 M40d or the petrol X3 M40i. The M40d uses a 3.0-litre diesel engine and the M40i a 3.0-litre petrol unit - both of which offer serious muscle. Both can blast from 0 to 62mph in under five seconds. For reference, the Honda Civic Type R - one of the best high-performance hatchbacks available new - takes just under six seconds to complete the same sprint.

Diesel models are likely to be more economical but it is best to thoroughly research if a diesel car is right for you, especially if you live in a city or cover less than 10,000 miles or so per year, as some local authorities are implementing extra charges for some diesel cars when driving in urban areas.


2. Audi SQ7

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There is a strong argument that the Audi SQ7 is all the car you could ever need. In fact, it is probably much more car than you could ever need, as it offers tonnes of space and loads of power, which gives it a top speed of 155mph. There are seats for seven, so more than enough to carry around a child or two and even rapidly growing teenagers. The good news is that the cabin feels very well built so should be up to dealing with all the abuse a family of three, four, five, six or seven can throw at it.

At roughly five meters long, 1.7 metres tall and more than two meters wide, this Audi is big with a capital ‘B’. That said, its size doesn’t translate to brash styling, if you avoid models with the huge - and optional - 22-inch alloy wheels. Avoid these and the SQ7 can slip under the radar as nothing but your average large SUV.

All it takes is one exuberant prod of the throttle and the potency of the SQ7 will soon be revealed, however. As all SQ7s come with an automatic gearbox and four-wheel-drive, making the most of the massively powerful 4.0-litre engine isn’t intimidating but opens up an enjoyable driving experience.


3. Porsche Macan

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The Macan is the smallest SUV Porsche makes, so it is perfect for those who would like a fast SUV but perhaps don’t need the carrying capacity of an SQ7 or a BMW X5 - or simply the expense. All Macan models come with four-wheel-drive, so they can be used all year round without worrying about slippery winter conditions making it hard to drive. The plush cabin is a pleasant place to be, with a high-quality feel and a stylish design. Some might be overwhelmed by the sheer number of buttons on the centre console but over time using most of them becomes second nature.

Porsche claims that the Macan is one of the sportiest SUVs available, and it doesn't take long in the driver's seat to back up that claim. The Macan handles bumps and corners better than some sports cars, which is very impressive considering that it is so much taller and heavier than most sports cars - with additional height and weight typically making cars feel less stable and sporty.


4. Audi SQ5

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The SQ5 is Audi’s mid-size fast SUV, so it competes with the likes of BMW X3 M40d and M40i models highlighted above. It has undergone a number of styling revisions and equipment tweaks over the past few years but the upshot of all these is that there is more of a variety of models to choose from. For example, there are both diesel and petrol SQ5s to choose from - both are impressively quick. All versions come with a crisp, modern-looking interior, which is a nice place to spend mile after mile.

If you are going to decide on which type of engine to go for on performance alone, the diesel offers a more relaxed type of speed, in that there always seems to be an abundance of muscle to blast you towards the horizon - so this is a great option for those who want a fast, effortless SUV that enables them to easily overtake slow-moving traffic when it is safe to do so.

The petrol model can still accelerate very quickly but the engine needs to be worked harder than the diesel to make the most of the performance on offer - so it is better suited to those who want to get more involved in the driving process to access the power available.


5. Volkswagen T-Roc R

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The T-Roc R is a relatively small SUV, but still offers plenty of the same appeal as larger models. It has roughly the same footprint as a VW Golf R but sits higher from the ground. In truth, the Golf R is better to drive but there is a strong argument for the T-Roc being the easier car to live with. The reasons for this are that it is easier for some people to get in and out of the T-Roc than the Golf - as its seats are higher up - and the suspension is fractionally softer, albeit still much firmer than with the standard T-Roc.

With nearly 300hp available, the T-Roc R is seriously quick, as it can hit 62mph from a standing start in under five seconds. Much of the go-faster goodness is carried over from the Golf R, including a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, four-wheel-drive and an automatic gearbox.


6. Jaguar F-Pace S

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If you want a fast SUV that offers sophisticated style, the F-Pace S is a fantastically appealing option - especially so in ‘S’ trim. The S model is not the fastest F-Pace in the range, despite having a powerful 3.0-litre diesel engine, but it is one of the most appealing, as it's more than quick enough for most drivers and the bonkers high-performance ‘SVR’ model, which comes with a huge 5.0-litre engine is seriously costly; even the cheapest SVR model on BuyaCar costs .

The F-Pace S's cabin is nice, but it is largely the same as less expensive versions of the Jaguar’s saloon cars; the XE and XF. Apart from that, though, there really aren’t many negatives to the F-Pace. Being a larger SUV, there is plenty of front and rear passenger space and the big boot can handle up to 650 litres of luggage with the rear seats in place. That means there are few everyday loads that won't fit.


7. Mini Countryman JCW

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Parking the never-ending debate of whether a large car can be a true ‘Mini’, the Mini Countryman JCW is quite a well-rounded package. It offers space for five and is the biggest and most practical car in the Mini range, while offering plenty of style and bags of speed. In 2019 Mini significantly increased the performance of the Countryman by boosting power from around 230hp to 306hp. That means that you'll want to pick a later model if having the greatest possible performance is important to you.

All models made after the 2019 updates come with an automatic gearbox - manual versions prior to this are available but are very rare. Another aspect which separates Minis from their competition are their interiors. There is a good blend of high-quality materials and retro design cues in the Countryman. This style has been used by Mini for quite a few years now, so some people familiar with Minis might think it is time for a refresh. If you are moving from other brands such as Kia or Volkswagen, though, it may be a breath of fresh air for you.


8. Volvo XC60 T8

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Volvo does fast cars a little differently to most. Take the XC60 'T8 Twin Engine', it isn’t fast due to having a huge engine that leads to eye-watering fuel bills - it is fast due to a plug-in hybrid system which uses an electric motor backed up by a large battery to boost performance. This really is an important distinction, as while cars like the Mini Countryman JCW come with sporty suspension to maximise how quickly you can drive along twisty roads, the Volvo doesn’t. This is absolutely fine if you want a fast SUV for blasting away from roundabouts without fuss, but less good if you love whizzing along winding, undulating country roads, as the XC60 is less suited to this.

The engine used in the T8 is a 2.0-litre petrol unit which is paired with an electric motor that drives the rear wheels. The battery is big enough to be able to drive the XC60 T8 on electricity alone for 28 miles from a full charge, according to the official figures. In reality, the range will be slightly lower but with some careful driving, it should still offer enough to last many people’s daily commute.

You'll just need to remember to charge it regularly to get the greatest fuel economy. Fail to do this and you could burn much more petrol than you expect. The Volvo performs well in other areas, too - thanks to its smart interior, decent space in the back for passengers and classy styling - making it a great choice for those who want a fast, but not sporty SUV.


*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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