Best sporty SUVs

Fancy a little power and performance to go with your practical SUV? Here are the best sporty but affordable options to consider

Gavin Braithwaite-Smith
Sep 27, 2021

SUVs have never been more popular. Many drivers love their blend of space, practicality and low running costs, along with a commanding driving position that gives them a great view of the road ahead.

But what if you fancy an SUV with a sporty feel - without blowing the budget? We’ve pulled together a list of sporty SUVs that are guaranteed to spice up your life, each one feeling agile in the city and great fun to drive on a country road.

There’s nothing too large here; you won’t have to worry about width restrictions and tight parking spaces. Instead, these compact and medium-size SUVs should fit into family life, with prices that won’t put a big dent in the household budget - whether you're paying cash or opting for PCP finance and looking for low monthly payments.

Remember, you’re just a few clicks away from ordering your next sporty SUV and arranging for it to be delivered to your door. It’ll even come with a 14-day money-back guarantee for added peace of mind.

Sporty SUVs

1. Ford Puma ST

Best for hot hatch-style excitement

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The Ford Puma ST is relatively new to the market, so it’ll be a while before prices drop as low as some of the other cars on our list of sporty SUVs. It’s worth the expense, though, because the Puma ST is arguably the best affordable sporty SUV you can get.

It’s based on the brilliant Ford Fiesta ST, which happens to be one of our favourite hot hatchbacks. Power comes from the same 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine, with the suspension stiffened up to make it feel sportier than the regular Puma.

The six-speed manual gearbox is a joy to use, whether you’re nipping between roundabouts in a city centre or getting the best out of your favourite country road. Choose a Puma ST in Mean Green metallic paint (pictured above) to make your neighbours turn a similar colour. If green is not your thing, fear not; there are plenty of less zingy colour options.


2. Nissan Juke Nismo RS

Best for bold styling

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The Nissan Juke Nismo RS was one of the first sporty compact SUVs. Because it’s been on sale for a while, it’s possible to pick up a bargain, with BuyaCar prices starting from  or  per month.

Its styling would be best described as ‘Marmite’, but if you love the standard Juke, you’ll almost certainly appreciate the Nismo RS makeover. A gaping front grille, flared wheel arches, a big rear spoiler and 18-inch alloy wheels will ensure you stand out in the office car park.

Power is sourced from a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine delivering the kind of power you’d associate with a high-performance hatchback. It’s also available with four-wheel-drive, which is ideal if your school run involves a rutted track or regular bad weather.


3. BMW X2

Best for upmarket driving fun

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In case you’re not up to speed with BMW’s SUV numbering system, it uses odd numbers for regular SUVs and even numbers for the more sportily styled variants. In other words, the X2 is the better looking and sportier version of the more practical BMW X1 SUV.

There’s more to the X2 than a sloping roofline and a little less headroom for rear-seat passengers, though. The body is entirely different and offers a sharper look, while the mechanical components have been modified to deliver a sportier ride.

As a result, the X2 feels more agile than the X1, aided by the low driving position. Two- and four-wheel-drive versions are available, with a high-performance 306hp X2 M35i on offer if you fancy terrorising hot hatchback drivers.


4. Honda HR-V Sport

Best for space and pace on a budget

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The Honda HR-V doesn’t look like a sporty SUV. Indeed, most - but not all - of the variants are about as sporty as a hippo in a leotard. It’s a compact SUV we’re happy to recommend for its interior space, large boot and flexible seating arrangement.

There is one sporty exception, though. It’s called the HR-V Sport, and it’s powered by a punchy 1.5-litre petrol engine, which reduces the 0-62mph time to a respectably quick 7.8 seconds when the HR-V is fitted with a manual gearbox. That's not hugely rapid compared with some sporty SUVs, but is on a par with many affordable speedy hatchbacks.

The Sport makeover extends to a sports bodykit, unique suspension, dual exhausts, LED headlights and black 18-inch alloy wheels. Inside, the HR-V Sport gets bespoke sports seats that offer better side support around corners.


5. Fiat 500X Sport

Best for excellent value for money

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If you want a sporty SUV simply to get a high driving position and a sporty look, then the Fiat 500X Sport could be perfect for you. It's not hugely quick or set up to rocket around corners, but it looks sharp, is affordable and gives you that high-riding SUV feel-good factor.

It’s a largely cosmetic makeover, but the Sport sits 13mm lower than the regular 500X, with uprated suspension and tweaked steering for a sportier feel. There are two engines: a 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol with a six-speed manual gearbox, and a 1.3-litre petrol mated to a six-speed automatic.

Visually, the 500X Sport gets a subtle bodykit, twin exhausts, large 19-inch alloy wheels, dark tinted rear windows and a suede-covered steering wheel. It’s a bargain when new, which means it’s a steal when picked up second-hand.


6. Volkswagen T-Roc R

Best for sports car performance

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The regular Volkswagen T-Roc is pretty good to drive, but the R version takes things to another level. You can look at it in one of two ways: either as a budget alternative to the Porsche Macan or a more practical version of the formidable Golf R high-performance hatchback.

Either way, it’s a compelling prospect. Its 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine produces a substantial 300hp, so the 0-62mph time is an impressively rapid 4.8 seconds. If 0-62mph times don't mean much to you, that ranks the T-Roc R alongside some versions of the Porsche 911 sports car.

The four-wheel-drive system provides impressive grip when accelerating, while the bucket front seats, flat-bottomed steering wheel and 19-inch alloy wheels lend the T-Roc R a suitably sporty vibe inside and out.


7. Suzuki Vitara S

Best for lightweight fun

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With a name like Boosterjet, you’d expect the engine in the Suzuki Vitara S to be pretty powerful. You’d be wrong, because the 1.4-litre turbocharged engine produces just 140hp, but because the Vitara S is so light, it feels anything but slow.

In fact, the Vitara S feels quicker and more agile than a Vitara powered by the larger 1.6-litre petrol and diesel engines, so it’s the version to choose if you’re after a sporting flavour.

It comes with Suzuki’s AllGrip all-wheel-drive system and a six-speed manual gearbox, yet can return around 52mpg fuel economy, which is surprisingly good for this type of car. So, if you want a compact but affordable, desirable and practical option, the Vitara is a great choice.


8. Jaguar F-Pace

Best for a growing family

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The F-Pace was Jaguar’s first SUV, and the company used all of its experience in building sports cars and sporting saloons to create one of the best sporty SUVs you can buy. Even an entry-level F-Pace is nicer to drive than the majority of other SUVs.

It’s larger than the other models listed here, and while you’ll have to spend a little more money, it’s possible to buy a 2017 F-Pace for the same price as a new Ford Fiesta ST. Your children and dog will thank you for choosing the Jaguar, too, as it's a much larger and more comfortable option.

The high-performance SVR (pictured above) is powered by a 5.0-litre V8 petrol engine, but the 2.0-litre petrol and diesel engines should be more than punchy enough for most drivers. An update in 2021 improved the F-Pace in just about every department, so if you can stretch to one of these, it might be worth it.


*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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