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2018-01-01 19:43

Lance Branquinho

Image: thenewsmarket

Cape Town - The logic has always applied, that if you wanted a vehicle with PlayStation gaming performance in the real world. and sufficient space for passengers and their stuff, the performance sedan was your destiny. Not anymore. 

In 2018, the introduction of a range of high-performance SUVs will signal the most devastating threat yet to the M5, RS6 and E63, cars which have always captured the family burdened petrolhead’s imagination. 

The most spectacular of all the new SUV arrivals this year is unquestionably the Lamborghini Urus. An affront to Lamborghini traditionalists, Urus is a very necessary strategy for Lamborghini’s future survival and sales momentum. 


Which SUV are you most looking forward to in 2018? Tell us why

The Urus super SUV


It’s also a vehicle of notable firsts for Lamborghini. Not only is this the first SUV Sant’Agata’s ever brought to market, but it is the celebrated Italian brand’s first vehicle with forced induction too. And considering Lamborghini’s illustrious V10 and V12 heritage, a boosted engine entering the fray is quite a big deal. 

A twin-turbocharged V8 good for 478kW powers Urus to a credible claim of being the world’s fastest SUV, with a top speed of 305km/h. There have been four-wheel drive Lamborghinis since the early 1990s (Diablo debuted all-wheel drive traction for the brand), but Urus is the first Lamborghini since the LM002 double-cab bakkie a decade earlier to feature true gravel travel and dune raiding ability. At R3 305 000, it will be for the discerning performance SUV buyers who is a keen apex-clipper therefore not that interested in a Bentley Bentayga. 

Besides Urus, another Italian performance SUV will become available this year, Alfa Romeo’s Stelvio Quadrifoglio. In principle a high riding version of the hot Giulia sedan, it’s powered by the same Ferrari inspired 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged V6, boosting to 375kW and delivering terrific performance in a package which is lighter and more agile than the 2200kg Urus.

'Absolutely mad' Trackhawk


If turbocharging is of little appeal to you, and crankshaft driven forced induction is more your thing, the most expensive Jeep ever will be available at local dealers this year too. It’s the absolutely mad Grand Cherokee Trackhawk which shames all other performance cars with its power output. It also undoes the claim of Urus being the quickest accelerating SUV, as Jeep’s Trackhawk matches its 0-100km/h time of 3.6 seconds.

Chrysler engineers have somehow managed to extract 527kW from a supercharged 6.2-litre V8, and perhaps even more impressively, configured an all-wheel drive system and gearbox which is capable of transferring all of that power without twisting itself out of shape.

If you love the American muscle car philosophy, a Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is going to be all the SUV you’ve always wanted, and being supercharged, its mechanical whine is a lot more distinctive than all the rival turbocharged SUVs, with their whooshing turbines. With a top speed of 290km/h, it’s only slower by 15km/h compared to the Urus. In all likelihood, the most impressive thing Jeep has done since the millennium. 

Alfa Stelvio Quadrifoglio


There’s no taking a view on the performance SUV market this year without considering AMG. Affalterbach markets a greater portfolio of quick SUVs than any other brand and the anchor product landing locally in 2018 will be the GLC 63 AMGs. It’s a classic German interpretation of the ‘big-engine-in-smallish-body’ philosophy, with two tunes of the ubiquitous M178 twin-turbo 4-litre V8 available, 350- and 375kW. 

Without a current rival from either BMW or Audi, GLC 63 AMG will square off against the similarly powerful and sized Stelvio Quadrifoglio, which might make for the performance shootout of 2018. And that’s the bizarre notion, isn’t it? Alfa Romeo has finally built an SUV, and a quicker version of it in swift succession, and there is a rival from AMG to counter. A scenario unimaginable a decade ago. It’s also indicative of how quickly this SUV market is maturing into dominance over the sedan – which was once the salvation of a keen driver who quested for some rewarding performance. 

New 'Gelandewagen'?

Finally, there’s a classic which is due to significant reinvention too: Geländewagen. The most iconic of all true off-road capable SUVs, and amazingly successful in its repurposing as a pseudo-performance SUV by AMG, Geländewagen is finally due for an in-depth engineering revision and redesign. Considering the current Geländewagen was launched in 1979, it’s probably time for a new one. 

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