8. BMW X3 M & X4 M
BMW is a fairly recent addition to the ranks of manufacturers making hot SUVs at the smaller end of the market. While there has been an X5M and an X6M for several years, this is the first time those cars have had smaller counterparts.
They’re oddly serious, buttoned-down counterparts, too. Using fixed-height steel coil suspension rather than air, and seeking to carve out dynamic identities as higher-rising versions of the M3 and M4 rather than as any-occasion luxury SUVs with a performance flavour, the X3- and X4M are firm-riding, keen-revving, six-cylinder options that seem desperate to recover some sporting credibility in what many would consider a doomed attempt.
The cars have identical axles and chassis tuning, and use the same M5-derived four-wheel drive system, which combine to make for surprisingly high grip levels and keen cornering balance. Even so, they’re not the easiest cars to handle on the limit – and neither do they offer the broadest dynamic playbook in the class.
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9. Tesla Model X
Any SUV with close to six-hundred horsepower, that can crack 60mph from rest in three seconds flat, is worth a mention in this top ten. The top-of-the-range Tesla Model X qualifies in both of those respects, and that it does so without burning a drop of fossil fuel arguably gives it greater 21st century appeal than any other car here.
Using twin electric motors and having two driven axles, and having height-adjustable air suspension to boot, the Model X wouldn’t be last in this class for outright offroad ability. Usability comes with the usual electric-car caveat, but with 95kWh of usable battery capacity to tap into, this EV can put more than 250 miles between charges when driven for efficiency.
The weight of its batteries does adversely affect its ride and handling somewhat, and to the point where the car’s appeal as a performance car is markedly blunted. But as a fast, roomy, zero-emissions family car, there’s plenty left to recommend it.
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