Power of SUVS
The world is ablaze right now with SUV fever, and there is no sign of this phenomenon slowing down. A trend as of late has been the move towards more sustainable, efficient engineering, evidenced by smaller displacement turbocharged motors and the use of hybrid technology. We’ve rounded up a few of the hottest examples from three well-known luxury brands.
—By Benjamin Yong
2019 Lamborghini Urus
Even Lamborghini couldn’t resist the lucrative opportunity of entering the SUV arena. Thankfully, the Italian luxury automaker hasn’t at all watered down the styling of the Urus, which is named after the aurochs, a wild ancestor of modern domestic cattle. The exterior is classic Lambo, wearing slim LED headlamps, an aggressive front bumper, up to 23-inch wheels, and blacked-out valences all around. Engineers put lightweight aluminum to good use during construction that helps improve handling and lower fuel consumption.
For the first time, Lamborghini didn’t shoehorn a 12- or even 10-cylinder mill under the hood as per usual but, like Mercedes-Benz, chose a twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8. Go-fast junkies need not fret, as it’s no slouch, pumping out a massive 650 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque. Thanks to clever aerodynamics and tech, like the ability to shut down unneeded engine cylinders at cruising speeds, the Urus manages a very respectable figure of 12.3 L/100 km for both about town and on the freeway.
2019 Mercedes G-Class
Many contemporary utility vehicles share a similar curvaceous, wind-tunnel shape but not the all-business Mercedes G-Class, affectionately known as the G-Wagen. Redesigned last year, it doesn’t simply appear rugged but is built for off-roading, boasting three locking differentials and low-range gearing to get unstuck out of almost any situation. The 270 millimetres of ground clearance and 70 centimetres of water-fording depth ensure the SUV can go anywhere.
A bi-turbo 4.0-litre V8 engine is found under the hood of the G 550 variant, generating 416 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque. Managing the output is a 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission, which, taking advantage of a wide gear ratio, provides a quieter ride and reduced gas guzzling. While the combined 17.9 L/100 km rating isn’t anywhere near the Cayenne’s, the company has hinted that plans are in place to eventually electrify the lineup, G-Class included.
2019 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid
Porsche’s Cayenne just entered its third generation, although even the keenest enthusiast would be hard-pressed to spot the changes. It’s a little bigger all-around, measuring 71 millimetres longer and 29 millimetres wider than the outgoing model, while sitting 20 millimetres lower, giving a sportier stance. At the back, the taillights are connected via a thin light bar reminiscent of the 718 Boxster and 911. Inside, the Porsche Communication Management infotainment system replaces most of the numerous physical switches found previously on the centre console.
Unlike the other two vehicles discussed here, the Cayenne is the only make currently available in an electrified format. The E-Hybrid features a combination 3.0-litre V6 and 100-kilowatt electric motor, mated to a Tiptronic S eight-speed automatic gearbox, producing a total of 462 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. Up to 44 kilometres can be travelled in zero emissions mode, and the fuel economy is rated at a thrifty 3.4 L/100 km in mixed city and highway driving conditions.
The powertrain was inspired by the 918 Spyder supercar, allowing the energy stored inside the large 14.1 kilowatt-hour battery to also be used for boosting performance rather than just efficiency, which is activated when either the Sport or Sport Plus buttons beneath the shifter is pressed.