Back in 1975, the then all-new Porsche 911 Turbo, with its voluptuous flared fenders and whale-tail rear spoiler, set the benchmark in supercar performance. Powered by a 3.0-liter, air-cooled turbocharged flat-six engine developing 260 hp, it could sprint to 60 mph from standstill in 5.5 seconds.
Lavish, load-hauling SUVs are dominating the current market, doing so with engines developing at least twice that early Porsche’s output while being able to blast from zero to 60 mph in under 3.8 seconds. Put that original 911 Turbo up against, say, the all-electric, 830 hp GMC Hummer SUV, and that Porsche would be left in the dust. Today’s coolest, fastest, most powerful, and utilitarian performance machines are SUVs. And unlike that 911 Turbo, they can even play in the dirt. Here’s our top ten models in the category by ascending order of output.
Photo : Audi AG
Audi RS Q8
A Lamborghini Urus for half the price? That’s the appeal of Audi’s flagship SUV, the 591 hp RS Q8. Powered by pretty much the same 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 you’ll find under the hood of the Raging Bull’s SUV (Lamborghini’s Urus S makes 657 hp), the super-fast RS Q8 can hit 60 mph from zero in just 3.7 seconds and top out at a limited 155 mph. And its 590 ft lbs of torque gives the big-grilled Audi simply astonishing mid-range thrust. Make no mistake, this is a true supercar SUV with a soundtrack to match. It also handles beautifully, aided by adaptive air suspension and RS-specific damper tuning, laser-precise steering, and pizza-sized ceramic stoppers that span 17.3-inches in the front. Think of the Audi RS Q8 as a velvet-covered hammer on 23-inch rims. From $126,995
Photo : Bentley Motors Limited
Bentley Bentayga Speed
Presenting the mighty Bentley Bentayga Speed and its potent, twin-turbocharged W-12 with 626 hp. The only other 12-pot luxury SUV you can buy these days has the Spirit of Ecstasy on its bow, and that’s built for comfort rather than speed. And speed is what this Bentayga delivers in spades; zero to 60 mph comes up in 3.8 seconds. The turbine-like 664 ft lbs of thrust—all of it available from just 1,500 rpm—does not diminish until it hits the Speed’s 190 mph max. Bentley’s Dynamic Ride air suspension does its best to keep this 5,529-pound heavyweight from leaning through curves, but the Speed’s handling is still more relaxed than athletic. Just sit back, revel in the baronial cabin, and benefit from the 12-cylinder brawn. From $267,325
Photo : Porsche Cars North America
Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT
The very definition of a hot-rod, luxury SUV is Porsche’s insanely rapid Cayenne Turbo GT Coupe. Adding to the 4.0-liter power and rear-biased all-wheel drive is Porsche’s brilliance at making things go fast. And the best news? Arriving this summer is a primped and preened Turbo GT with max power upped to 650 hp, the capability of zero-to-60 mph sprinting in 3.1 seconds, and a top speed that’s just a whisker under 190 mph. This 2024 GT is still only offered as a slant-back coupe, but the front end has had a makeover that includes a new hood and fender design with Taycan-style headlights. Go-fast features include a new air suspension, standard carbon-ceramic composite brakes, and rear-axle steering. If it wasn’t the performance SUV benchmark before, this latest variant surely will be. From $197,950
Photo : Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A.
Lamborghini Urus Performante
Yes, Lamborghini’s Urus Performante, the new 657 hp variant to the marque’s most commercially successful model line in history, can go fast. Very fast. Fast as in zero to 60 mph in 3.1 seconds and 190 mph flat out, thanks to its 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-8. Fast as in setting a new production-SUV world record on the 12.5-mile Pikes Peak course, shattering the previous record by nearly 18 seconds. But what sets this angry appliance of an SUV apart, is its otherworldly handling. Most of the changes that turn the regular Urus into a Performante are aimed at making it carve curves faster and with more authority. The stock air suspension was jettisoned in favor of coil springs to allow finer tuning, and the front and rear track got widened while the ride height dropped by close to an inch. Think of it as a Lamborghini Huracán with room for kids and a canine. From $260,000
Photo : Mercedes-Benz AG
Mercedes-AMG EQE SUV
Two numbers tend to grab your attention like a punch in the solar plexus when discussing the merits of Mercedes’ first all-electric SUV to wear the fabled AMG performance badge. Those figures would be 677 and 738. The former is the amount of horsepower delivered by this swoopy-bodied sport-ute when equipped with the must-have AMG Dynamic Plus package. The second conveys the ft lbs of torque that its twin electric motors produce. According to AMG, the EQE SUV covers zero to 60 mph in just 3.4 seconds, which is pretty impressive for a nearly 6,000-pound family hauler. And with AMG Active Ride Control air suspension with adaptive damping, active rear-axle steering, and active roll stabilization, the 2024 EQE SUV will slice through turns with true purpose and agility. Electrifying indeed. From $110,000 (estimated)
Photo : Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings PLC
Aston Martin DBX707
Runner-up in Robb Report’s 2023 Car of the Year showdown, Aston Martin’s 697 hp DBX707 has one superlative claim to fame; it’s simply the world’s most powerful super-luxe, non-electrified SUV. Powered by an AMG-massaged 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8, paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission, the posh and refined vehicle makes its brutal personality known the instant you stand on the gas and rush from standstill to 60 mph in a blistering 3.1 seconds. And you don’t stop rushing until the speedometer’s needle is kissing the 193 mph mark. The DBX707’s rock-out-of-a-catapult acceleration is matched by truly dynamic handling, with a poise, balance, and agility that’s normally reserved for Aston Martin’s sports cars. And, of course, no other performance SUV looks this gorgeous. From $239,086
Photo : Ferrari S.p.A.
As we exhorted in our recent First Drive review of Ferrari’s Purosangue: “Just don’t call it an SUV.” A crossover, yes. A 2+2 fastback? Even better. But with modern SUVs coming in a pick ‘n mix of shapes and sizes, this spectacular new four-seat, tall-bodied Ferrari certainly qualifies to be considered in the category—though seemingly from another planet. Powered by a thundering, naturally aspirated 6.5-liter V-12 making 725 hp, this 4,482-pound projectile can rocket from standstill to 62 mph in 3.3 seconds and hit a top speed of 193 mph. While the steering is a little too bland and lifeless for our liking, the Purosangue—that’s “thoroughbred” in Italian—tears through corners with all the poise, agility, and balance of, well, a Ferrari. The Ultimate SUV? You bet. From $393,350
Photo : Enes Kucevic, courtesy of BMW.
BMW XM Label Red
Just when we thought BMW’s first M SUV, the 644 hp plug-in hybrid XM, was a rocket ship, the new XM Label Red is soon to arrive as the biggest, baddest Bimmer yet. Packing 738 hp, it’s the most powerful, street-legal BMW M model ever offered, and one that can lunge to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds, hit a top speed of 175 mph, and whirr along in electric-only mode for 30 miles. And in keeping with the Label Red moniker, this mightiest of M examples comes with big red rings around that swollen kidney grille, red stripes along the flanks and the windows, and even red accents around the new 23-inch rims. Production at BMW’s South Carolina plant kicks off in August with numbers limited to just 500 examples. From $186,000 (estimated)
Photo : GMC
GMC Hummer SUV
OK, what it lacks in luxury, quality, and craftsmanship—the interior’s plastic is ubiquitous—this all-electric 2024 GMC Hummer SUV makes up for in otherworldly performance. And in our book, “otherworldly” relates to an 8,600-pound leviathan being able to charge from zero to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and reach 100 mph in 9.0 seconds. But don’t think of this new Hummer SUV as simply a Hummer pickup with a sport-ute body. Its wheelbase is 8.9 inches shorter for starters. It’s also lighter, courtesy of the number of battery modules being reduced from 24 to 20. That means a cut in output from the pickup’s 1,000 hp to 830 hp for the SUV. But with GMC’s aptly-named WTF launch control coming standard on the vehicle, off-the-line acceleration will still bring tears to your eyes. From $106,645
Photo : Lotus Cars Limited
Lotus Eletre R
Lotus’s first-ever SUV, the all-electric Eletre, isn’t due stateside until next year, so information is a little sparse. Yet we do have a bit of tantalizing intel. According to the little car maker that can, the flagship Eletre R, with its 112 kwh battery pack, will come with a jaw-dropping 905 hp and 726 ft lbs of torque. Pedal to the metal will result in a dash from zero to 62 mph in, wait for it, 2.95 seconds. If that number doesn’t set this exceedingly stylish crossover apart, the technology will. Its standout features include a two-speed transmission, a digital cockpit run by state-of-the-art gaming software, and a 2,160-watt KEF sound system with 23 speakers. From $153,000 (estimated)