THERE’S plenty of action in store for luxury SUV buyers in Australia in 2017. Here’s WhichCar’s pick of the ones we’re most excited to see.
Audi’s Q range of SUVs expands in February with the smallest and most affordable model yet. The Q2 will start from $41,100, undercutting the cheapest Q3 ($42,990) that shares the same 110kW 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine and front-wheel-drive layout at the entry point. Engine choices also include a 2.0-litre turbo petrol and 2.0-litre turbo diesel, each paired with a quattro all-wheel-drive system. Because the Q2 is aimed at younger buyers, there’s an edgier design that breaks from the more conservative approach Audi takes to its bigger SUVs.
Italian luxury brand Maserati first showcased an SUV in 2003 with the Kubang concept, and a production high-rider finally goes on sale 14 years later. A requisite premium interior can be taken to even higher levels of quality with optional fine leather and silk, with a panoramic sunroof and Harman Kardon audio system standard for a model that starts from $139,990. Three trim grades are all powered by a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 diesel with 206kW and 600Nm – about the same level of performance as an entry-level Porsche Cayenne. The all-wheel-drive system is biased towards the rear wheels but has the capacity to send up to half the engine’s torque to the front wheels to aid traction. Standard adjustable suspension provides five different ride height options.
The original Q5 enjoyed a period as Australia’s most popular luxury SUV, so the follow-up model due midway through 2017 can be fairly described as significant for the German carmaker. While the general design advances little, the new Q5 is lighter and promises to be both faster and more fuel-efficient. A high-quality cabin is available with Audi’s clever Virtual Cockpit configurable digital instrument display, and air suspension and adaptive dampers are on the options menu. Initial engines are a turbo petrol and turbo diesel, both 2.0 litres in size, with a 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel following later in the year. The V6 is the only model with permanent all-wheel drive, where the four-cylinder variants use on-demand systems.
‘Disco’ No.5 arrives in July priced from $81,590. The latest Discovery retains the trademark stepped roof and seven-seat layout of the 1989 original, although it abandons the split tailgate for a single section. An Intelligent Seat Fold system allows users to configure the second and third row of seats via boot buttons or a dedicated smartphone app. Two types of all-wheel-drive systems are offered, depending on how serious the owner is about going off-road. Either way, the Discovery 5 is equipped to go off the beaten track with a 90cm wading depth, 50cm of wheel articulation, and more than 28cm of ground clearance. A range of turbo petrol and turbo diesel engines also have less weight to haul: the new Disco has shed almost 500kg over its predecessor.
Swedish brand Volvo’s major product overhaul started in 2015 with the XC90 seven-seater SUV, was followed this year by the S90 and V90 large car twins, and in 2017 the second-generation XC60 lands. Details are thin on the ground as the XC60 has yet to be even officially revealed. What we do know is that it will use a shortened version of the flexible modular architecture used by the aforementioned ’90 series’ models, and be powered by either three- or four-cylinder engines running on petrol or diesel – with hybrid technology also in the mix. The new five-seat XC60 will eventually sit in the middle of Volvo’s SUV range, with the XC90 above it and an upcoming XC40 positioned below.
2017 Top 5 luxury SUVs
|Land Rover Discovery 5||$81,590+|