Top ten: Compact SUVs

Top ten: Compact SUVs
Top ten: Compact SUVs

Which are the top choices in this increasingly popular new car sector?

Britain and Europe can’t get enough small SUVs right now. One in three new cars this year is expected to be an SUV, and car makers are falling over themselves to launch new models.

Given the sheer amount of choice on offer, how do you decide on which is the best for you? We’re here to help there, with our guide to the 10 best small SUVs you can buy right now.

10. Toyota RAV4

The Toyota RAV4 is the oldest SUV here, and feels it. But then, it’s the only one of the 10 to come with a petrol-electric hybrid option, giving low-speed low-emissions driving. It looks tougher and more capable off road than it actually is, and it’s no great shakes on the highway, either, but reliability is second to none and build quality is impeccable.

9. Mercedes-Benz GLA

Another small SUV that’s more like a raised hatchback – the similarities with the A-Class hatch are striking, and the interior is almost identical. It’s cramped in the rear too, although it’s better for those in the front because the dashboard is stylish. Add in ride and handling that are off the pace and you’ve a Merc that struggles to appeal.

8. Audi Q3

The Audi Q3 sits at the upper end of the sector in terms of prices, but the interior justifies this with a very premium feel. It’s not the most spacious though, feeling more like a raised hatchback than a genuine SUV, and both ride and handling lack depth. But it is very refined, and equipped with strong engines.

7. Peugeot 3008

The latest Peugeot 3008 is a very good-looking machine – indeed, it’s almost as if the styling has compromised interior practicality, while the tiny steering wheel also takes some getting used to. It’s well equipped, partly justifying high prices, but it’s a pity engines and handling aren’t sharper.

6. Honda CR-V

The Honda CR-V is getting on a bit these days and a replacement is due this summer. But this does mean value is better than ever, with good equipment levels and keen list prices. It’s exceedingly practical inside too, with loads of space and flexibility. What a pity automatic models are noticeably less efficient than manuals.

5. Range Rover Evoque

The classy choice in this sector that continues to sell in huge numbers despite its advancing years and ever-high prices. It still drives well, even if fuel economy looks average these days, and the interior is appealing. Buyers are willing to overlook its flaws in order to get behind the wheel – that’s the mark of a phenomenon.

4. BMW X1

The premium BMW X1 is a very strong package with the added allure of a premium badge. It’s a rival to the Range Rover Evoque but is far cheaper, offers better practicality than an Audi Q3 and a smarter interior than a Mercedes-Benz GLA. It’s good to drive but the ride is a little firm, and fuel economy isn’t as impressive as we’re used to from BMW.

3. Ford Kuga

The Ford Kuga is the small SUV of choice for those who enjoy driving. It handles really well and is only compromised by an automatic gearbox that’s below par: choose the manual. Refinement is decent, prices are good value and it’s very well equipped, particularly in facelifted guise. Just be aware it’s not quite as spacious as a Tiguan.

2. Mazda CX-5

The brand behind the famous MX-5 roadster has infused its CX-5 SUV with similarly stylish looks – and it has the engaging handling to match. It’s well equipped, justifying prices slightly higher than the Tiguan, and the interior itself is good-looking. The only let-down is a rather loud engine that’s a bit high on CO2.

1. Volkswagen Tiguan

The super-popular Tiguan is one of Volkswagen’s most popular cars, and it’s easy to see why – this is the best small SUV you can buy. It’s not cheap, and there are more engaging small SUVs to drive, but in terms of spaciousness, solidity and refinement, there’s little to beat it. It genuinely is a cut above the SUV hoi polloi.

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