Redefining the ‘Sport’ in SUV: Sport Car makers are taking over Crossovers

It began when Porsche beat the odds with Cayenne, continued with Bentley’s cubic yards of luxury in the Bentayga and is not ending anytime soon with Lamborghini’s Super SUV on the way. This is the story of how Sport Car makers are taking over SUVs.

It began when Porsche beat the odds with Cayenne, continued with Bentley’s cubic yards of luxury in the Bentayga and is not ending anytime soon with Lamborghini’s Super SUV on the way. This is the story of how Sport Car makers are taking over SUVs.

 

Sport carmakers have always, at least for the past 2 decades, flirted with the idea of plunging into SUVs, but it was until the launch of Porsche Cayenne in 2002 that this ambition became real. After entering the market with mixed anticipation, the Cayenne quickly came to be seen as the definitive SUV that, as one review back then put it, “could lap racetracks at sports car speeds, scramble up mountains like a billy goat and cruise comfortably to the spa.”

Since then, Porsche has not looked back with Crossovers, and over the past 15 years they’ve had at least 12 models to show for their devotion. The latest line of the Cayenne has as its flag bearer the Turbo S, a 570-horsepower SUV which looks like a show pony but takes to track like a racehorse. Word on the street is, park the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S in your garage and you could rest assured that you have the best crossover on the market.

…even though the Jaguar is stepping up its pace.

First with the F-pace, now with the E-pace, and the I-Pace soon to follow; Jaguar wants a share of the Crossover pie. In 2016 it had quite a bite with the debut F-Pace selling more than 80,000 units, almost half of all the sales the company recorded in the last financial year. This year, Jaguar has gone for lesser price, power, and size in the hope of achieving even more sales. The ambitious designs will return in the I-pace, a gorgeous, all-electric crossover set to debut in 2018. Powered by a 90-kWh battery, the aluminum-intensive I-Pace is expected to go from 0 to 60 mph in 4 seconds, and on one charge, cover at least 220 miles. All of these are still projections, but in many ways they demonstrate Jaguar’s belief in the crucial role of Crossovers to its future.

Bentley does too.

This year, the British manufacturer launched the Bentayga with a twin-turbo 6.0-liter W-12 that makes a mighty 600 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque. The result: it’s the fastest SUV in the world. It’s also the finest by miles, and for proof, check out this description in Fortune’s review. “There’s enough quilting (in the Bentayga) to satisfy Chanel,” the magazine wrote in January. “Enough leather to upholster a manor house living room, and enough contemporary creature comforts to let Bentayga stand tallest among its competitors. If that’s not enough luxury, Bentley’s bespoke Mulliner division offers a $170,000 Breitling tourbillon as an option (but be patient—given the timepiece’s complexity, only four a year can be manufactured).” Whew, we’ll just leave it there…

…but Maserati won’t let us.

The Maserati Levante S Q4 has being lauded as the best car Modena, Maserati’s maker, has made in decades. It’s not difficult to see why. The makers succeeded in making a Crossover that was unmistakably Italian with its expressively designed exterior and an impressively finished interior. In the engine you will discover a beast with twin-turbo V-6s, 345 horsepower or 424 horsepower, that, as one review put it, “screams a raw, guttural song full of snorts and cracks and roars like a lust-mad bull crashing through the forest while singing opera.”

…and there’s still more Crossover renditions to come.

Lamborghini’s Super SUV is on the way, so too Aston Martin’s DBX. It’s now only a matter of when before Car Makers fully take over Crossovers.