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Motoring

Five standouts from a crowded SUV field

A set of plush off-roaders from European makers to suit a wide range of tastes and budgets

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 January, 2017, 12:01pm
UPDATED : Friday, 06 January, 2017, 8:54pm

There are numerous sport utility vehicles available for motorists in Hong Kong but these five stood out from the crowd last year.

The bulky Bentley Bentayga seems the SUV to beat. Launched in Hong Kong in April for HK$4.25 million, this 5.14-metre, 3.25-tonne SUV has a 600-horsepower, twin-turbocharged six-litre W12 engine that can reach 100km/h in 4.1 seconds and top at 301km/h. Its petrol consumption is about 13 litres per 100km for 296 grams per km in carbon dioxide emissions.

This showy SUV is plush and loaded with impressive technology, from class-leading eight on- and off-road drive settings to impressive clocks that monitor the vehicle’s pitch, roll, advanced steering, and even its compass bearing and altitude. Its traffic electronics range from Start&Stop and cruise controls to autonomous parking.

The well-finished, 4.49-metre Volkswagen Tiguan 2 is probably the best-value SUV in town, and it is available in two versions. The range-topping 180ps 330 TSI 4MOTION Trail (HK$369,980) model reaches 100km/h in 7.7 seconds for a combined-run 7.4-7.3 litres/100km in petrol. The 150ps 280 TSI ACT Street (from HK$299,980) version is 1.5 seconds slower in the sprint but will do for routine runs here. Fitted with a panoramic sun roof and a steering-wheel-controlled 12.3-inch Active Info Display, the Tiguan 2 looks good in any car park in Hong Kong, and might be worth a look if your budget’s being clobbered by rent or school fees.

The European New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP) gave the Tiguan 2 a five-star crash test rating in June, and on December 23 named it “Best Small Off-Roader” in its annual awards. This is a significant achievement for Volkswagen as NCAP tests became more demanding and incorporated child-sized crash test dummies this year. The Tiguan 2 achieved scores of 96 per cent in adult protection and 84 per cent in child protection. The five-door model also scored 72 per cent in pedestrian protection and 68 per cent in safety assist electronics. NCAP testers praised the Tiguan 2’s safety in frontal collisions, and noted its whiplash protection in Hong Kong-like, low-speed shunts.

The 5-metre Maserati Levante looks swish. Designed by Ermenegildo Zegna, the cabin already looks stunning with red or brown seats but the marque also offers a Zegna Mulberry Silk option for seat inserts, side panels, sunshades and the roof’s lining. However, only the three-litre, 275hp V6 diesel version (HK$1.14 million) is available in right-hand-drive Hong Kong, and dealer Auto Italia can’t yet say when the petrol-driven 350hp Levante and the 430hp Levante S will arrive.

Even so, the Levante range gets Maserati’s latest infotainment system with an 8.4-inch high-resolution screen and touch or rotary controls. Its driver assistance systems include adaptive cruise control with automatic Start&Stop functions; brake assist and forward collision, blind spot and lane departure warnings. There is also a surround-view camera and a powerlift in the tailgate.

The marque says the Turin-made Levante has the lowest centre of gravity in its class and has a 50-50 front-rear weight balance. The local diesel version could steer you off the Bentayga in design, price and for just being Italian.

The 4.73-metre Jaguar F-Pace “performance crossover” seems to have a growing following viewed from the Airport Expressway. This bulbous, aluminium-bodied all-wheel-drive has a big, well-finished cabin; a panoramic sun roof and mood lighting in 10 colours; and a large 650-litre boot for cross-border golf trips or factory visits. The F-Pace has a 10.2-inch tablet-style touchscreen and its in-house-developed InControl Touch Pro is said to be “the world’s most advanced infotainment system”. Passengers can connect up to eight devices on the F-Pace’s Wi-fi hotspot, and the driver has four visual themes on the virtual 12.3-inch HD instrument cluster.

Models range from the 380PS 3.0-litre supercharged V6 to the 380PS 3.0-litre V6 that tonnes in 5.5 seconds. Jaguar Hong Kong’s website has a couple of seasonal F-Pace deals, first with HK$30,000 off a 35t Prestige model, at HK$704,800. It also offers one of only 2,000 three-litre V6 First Edition F-Paces made, in blue and gold on 22-inch wheels at HK$1.17 million.

Finally, Hong Kong’s fashionistas could wake up to the internationally trending charms – and local rarity – of the Mercedes-Benz G-Class cross-country vehicle. First launched in 1979, the G is probably the most rugged four-wheel-drive there is, but it has reportedly proven a hit this year with beautiful people such as Queen Rania of Jordan, the Kardashian sisters, Myleen Klass, Hillary Duff, and Abbey Clancy. The G stands out among SUVs that are starting to look similar. It also makes a fashionista look powerful, streetwise and attractive in a Grrrly way.

Two models are available in Hong Kong: the G350d (HK$1.09 million) V6 with a 245hp, 2,987cc turbocharged engine, which sips 13.6 litres of diesel per 100 km; and the stunning rappers’ favourite, the G63 (HK$2.43 million) with a 571hp V8 turbocharged block. The basic G has a seven-speed automatic transmission, surround sound, ambient lighting Parktronic, but it is now being described as a “timeless classic”. It also has Germany’s best off-road, stability and safety technology – even though you might not use it all in Pedder Street.