Three of the biggest driver-focused premium SUVs do battle
When Porsche decided to make an SUV, the world thought it had gone mad. 15 years on, the Cayenne is on its second generation and outselling Porsche sports cars hand over fist. To say it’s been a success is putting it mildly: the company almost doesn’t know what to do with all the money it’s making.
Needless to say, rivals are numerous. But to really cut the mustard in this sector, you need to have a posh badge. Something like Range Rover, and the latest all-aluminium Sport, also on its second generation, is more than up to the task of taking on the Porsche. Despite a mammoth price tag that somehow adds £10k to the price of the Cayenne.
Range Rover Sport SDV6 HSE
Engine: 3.0-litre diesel
Torque: 443lb ft
Top speed: 130mph
Fuel economy: 31.5mpg (True MPG)
CO2 emissions: 185g/km
So too, theoretically, should be the sporty-looking BMW X6. It’s the cheapest, but still a premium machine. As both the Porsche and the BMW have recently been facelifted, we thought it time to bring the trio together for a heavyweight posh SUV shoot-out.
On the road, the Sport soon asserts itself. The 288bhp SDV6 turbodiesel packs a real punch, power that’s delivered with premium smoothness as well. It’s an easy car to drive quickly and make swift progress in, facilitated by a smooth-shifting auto that’s much better than the Porsche’s self-shifter.
Indeed, it’s a pity the Porsche is saddled with this gearbox, as the diesel engine itself is superb. It’s much better than the BMW: for all its outright speed, the X6 lacks smoothness and it’s tricky to work the throttle without making it jerk or rush forwards.
Review: BMW X6 vs Porsche Cayenne vs Range Rover Sport
The BMW does handle well, though. Again, it’s a sporty thing – probably too sporty when you encounter rough roads, where it starts to lose composure. This isn’t something the Range Rover suffers, maintaining its excellent body control and seriously good ride no matter what the surface below.
BMW X6 xDrive30d M Sport
Engine size: 3.0-litre diesel
List price: £56,515
Torque: 413lb ft
Top speed: 143mph
Fuel economy: 30.5mpg (True MPG)
CO2 emissions: 157g/km
The Porsche, of course, also handles well, and the steering feel is a particular highlight. All that 911 knowledge being put to good effect. It’s rather noisy though, particularly at motorway speeds – indeed, neither German car can quite match the peaceful hush of the Rangie. It flows along wonderfully well.
As for the interiors, guess what. The Range Rover is best, because it offers the most space and is the only one to offer seven seats. Rear space is particularly impressive, giving the edge over the Porsche and the BMW – although in fairness, all three have quality interiors that are nice places to spend time in.
They’re pretty evenly matched for overall boot capacity as well, although the sporty-looking X6’s is the hardest to use every day, because it’s higher and narrower.
As you’d hope, given its heady list price, the Range Rover Sport is very well equipped. It even has posh touches such as heated rear seats as standard, while autonomous emergency braking is a good safety-focused standard feature. The BMW is well-equipped given its value-focused asking price as well.
The Porsche, patently, is not very well equipped at all. It doesn’t even have metallic paint or a digital radio as standard. Add on the bits that are missing compared to the Range Rover and the list price quickly shoots beyond it. Spec for spec, it’s the most expensive machine here.
Porsche Cayenne Diesel
Engine size: 3.0-litre diesel
List price: £53,044
Torque: 428lb ft
Top speed: 137mph
Fuel economy: 31.1mpg (True MPG)
CO2 emissions: 173g/km
It’s looking better for the Sport in terms of running costs, then – until you get to company car rates. That’s a consequence of its high list price and high-ish CO2. The BMW, however, takes a hit in terms of depreciation and maintenance costs, which pushes up its cost of ownership. The Cayenne looks surprisingly competitive here, until you remember it doesn’t have much kit as standard…
We really like the Cayenne. The engine is great and it’s an authentic Porsche to drive. But it’s simply not good enough value. The BMW is better value and itself has a good engine, but it’s probably too much of a sportily-setup SUV for many.
This leaves the Range Rover Sport as the winner, by a clear margin. Its fluidity and refinement are top-notch and it’s a lovely machine to live with and spend time within. The fact you can drive safe in the knowledge it will beat pretty much anything off-road is also satisfying. In the battle of the big sports SUVs, it’s the clear winner.