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Everyone wants one. But there are so many cool models out there that it’s almost impossible to choose. Here we look at the pluses and minuses of four new top-of-the-range cars.
BMW X4 (autumn 2014)
Approx. price €46,000 (SE 5dr) – €61,500 (M Sport 5dr)
0 to 100 km/h in 5.2 seconds (35d model)
Power: 240 HP to 300 HP
Engine size: 2.0L, 3.0L
Like the X6, the X4 is a style-focused, sportier version of the X3. For now, all models have diesel engines and xDrive – BMW’s four-wheel-drive system. With impressive performance for its size, this new creation has unusual looks, making it less practical than the average SUV.
The roofline drops at the rear of the car giving it a more aggressive stance. The diesel engines give good economy, and the interior is high quality, the cabin plush. But because this is almost a sports car the headroom for the rear seats is low. The rear doors are small, as is the trunk.
Reliability is excellent, however. Well, what else do you expect from BMW? There’s lots of grip, power and fun. But for value for money, potential buyers should know there may be better alternatives.
Lexus NX (autumn 2014)
Approx. price €37,000 (S Auto 5dr) – €54,000 (Premier Auto 5dr)
0 to 100 km/h in 3.6 seconds
Power 570 HP
Engine size: 2.0L
The price is not bad, making the NX a rival for cars like the Audi Q5. This is the brand’s smallest SUV, with a beautiful interior and spacious trunk. Its main advantage is a choice between hybrid power and, from 2015, the first turbocharged gas engine ever offered in a Lexus. But no cost-saving diesel engine is available.
The design is sporty, so for some it may not be as comfortable as certain rivals. Avoid the Lexus NX F Sport model and this is a refined SUV. The trunk is bigger than the Audi Q5. Oddly, rear passengers sit higher than those at the front, which could help those with travel sickness, but rear headroom is reduced. Reliability and safety are first-rate, though the hybrid may feel underpowered.
Porsche Panamera Turbo S (2014)
Approx. price €80,000 – €164,000
0 to 100 km/h in less than 5 seconds
Power: 310 HP to 570 HP
Engine size: 3.0L, 3.6L, 4.8L
This is incredibly beautiful to drive for a luxury four-seater. But Porsche could be criticized for a lack of adventure when it comes to design. This hatchback is the carmaker’s first saloon, transporting four people quite comfortably, but it still feels like a sports car – and the boot is tiny unless the rear seats are folded.
The amazingly quick Turbo and Turbo S seem to defy the laws of physics with their performance and handling. They’re well-built, safe and reliable, and it’s very quiet inside. With the center console wrapped around you and a low seat, you feel like you’re in the cockpit of a jet plane. Porsche has expanded the range to include hybrid and diesel versions, which cut running costs while keeping the fine handling. But of course any Porsche is pricey to buy compared to other luxury saloons.
2014 Range Rover Sport
Approx. price €77,000 (3.0 SDV6 5dr) – €117,000 (5.0 V8 5dr)
0 to 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds
Power: 340 HP to 510 HP
Engine size: 3.0L, 5.0L
The emphasis for the impressive and muscular new Range Rover Sport is on comfort and luxury, and it’s lovely to drive – but the fuel costs are high. It’s a big four-wheel drive and not particularly efficient. But it has good handling, feels smooth and it's certainly comfortable. It comes with a choice of powerful diesel engines and a 5.0-litre petrol V8, all of which are pricey to run, but efficient options are promised later this year.
Expect firm suspension, comfy seats, thick carpets and luxurious leather. It's also exceptionally quiet inside. There are fewer buttons than the older Sport, making it look upmarket and stylish. The trunk is massive, the rear seats spacious, and for safety it’s hard to find a better car.
[pictured: Porsche Panamera Turbo S interior]