Best Stylish SUVs: The Parkers Group Test

  • Crossovers are big business in the UK
  • We bring together five interesting options
  • Four new and one used – which is best?
  • Crossovers are big business in the UK
  • We bring together five interesting options
  • Four new and one used – which is best?

Medium-sized SUV-style crossovers – a style of car made popular by the Nissan Qashqai back in 2007 – are hot property right now, with new models launching what feels like every week. That means they’ve become a familiar sight on our roads and aren’t the alternative option they once were.

So, what if you want SUV or crossover conveniences like a compact footprint, spacious interior and raised driving position, but want to stand out from the crowd?

Luckily, manufacturers are carving niches within this segment by designing and building more interesting-looking SUVs that will appeal to your heart as well as your head.

The confusing thing for buyers is deciphering the array of models available – are they crossovers, SUVs, jacked-up hatchbacks or even coupes?

We’ve brought together four new and stylish examples vying for customers’ attention, as well as an enticing second-hand option that you can get for a similar price.

The contenders are:

Audi Q2 Sport 1.4 TFSI

Infiniti QX30 2.2D Premium Tech

MINI Countryman Cooper D ALL4

Toyota C-HR Dynamic 1.8 Hybrid

Used Range Rover Evoque 2.2 SD4 Pure

All five of these cars offer something different in terms of styling, interior space and what’s under the bonnet, with a good mix of petrol, diesel and hybrid powertrains on test. Scroll down to find out which one could be best for you.


Which is the best stylish SUV to drive?

While a sporting driving experience isn’t a priority for all, something that inspires confidence is important, as is comfort. This type of car will be used by families, couples and everyone in between, so the best must be a good all-rounder.

Audi Q2

  • Things we like: Appropriate power for the size of car with smooth delivery, highly adjustable driving position
  • Things we don't: Lifeless steering, long gearshift throw, road noise

What our testers said: ‘The Q2 is a great all-rounder with decent power, traction and ride, but isn’t particularly entertaining. There’s also quite a bit of road noise from the big wheels.’

Infiniti QX30

  • Things we like: Linear power delivery, quick steering
  • Things we don't: Ride is good but gets unsettled easily, cheap-feeling gearshift paddles

What our testers said: ‘Traction levels are high and the power delivery is predictable but the steering is heavy, the view obstructed by chunky windscreen pillars, and there’s not enough headroom for taller drivers.’ 

MINI Countryman

  • Things we like: Traction levels, steering weight, low driving position
  • Things we don't: Power delivery, tyre and wind noise, forward visibility

What our testers said: ‘There is loads more traction here than a two-wheel drive MINI, which makes it easier to live with, but less fun at the limit. The excellent steering helps you quickly get dialled into the car’s handling.'

Toyota C-HR

  • Things we like: Excellent ride, supportive seats, quiet cabin
  • Things we don't: Thick rearmost pillars hamper visibility, lack of steering feedback

What our testers said: ‘The C-HR is very balanced with good body control and responsive steering. It’s very quiet and the CVT gearbox isn’t anywhere near as frustrating as older units.'

Range Rover Evoque

  • Things we like: Assured handling, snappy gearshift, adjustable driving position
  • Things we don't: Firm ride, narrow power band, rear visibility

What our testers said: ‘You can get really hunkered down in the Evoque, in a sporty driving position that is echoed by the confident handling, firm suspension and short action of the gearshift.’

Driving winner: Toyota C-HR


Which stylish SUV is most practical?

While these SUVs look distinctive, they also need to disguise a practical and versatile interior to cope with all life throws at them.

Audi Q2

  • Things we like: Plenty of room in the front, lots of adjustability in driving position, doors cover dirty door sills and well-shaped boot
  • Things we don't: Cramped rear seats with small windows, lack of extra storage areas, high boot lip

What our testers said: 'There will be enough space for most and there's lots of adjustment for front occupants, but the Q2 will be cramped for families looking to utilise the rear seats regularly.'

Infiniti QX30

  • Things we like: Decent comfort levels for the front seats, wide and deep boot one of the largest here
  • Things we don't: Distinct lack of headroom both front and rear, while rear-seat passengers will feel especially cramped. Not much extra storage either

What our testers said: 'Lack of attention to detail is disappointing for a premium brand and it feels distinctly cramped inside. Large boot is its main saving grace.'

MINI Countryman

  • Things we like: Surprising amount of space, especially in the back, great storage, acres of headroom
  • Things we don't: Black headlining makes it feel dark, boot not the biggest, rear seats fold forwards very abruptly

What our testers said: 'Overall the MINI was a pleasant suprrise, with more space inside than expected. Its boot isn't massive, but it offers a flexible cabin and lots of passenger room.'

Toyota C-HR

  • Things we like: Roomy feel up front, with generous head and legroom all round. Boot is big and rear seats fold smoothly and quickly
  • Things we don't: Tiny rear windows and black headlining make it feel dark inside, not much extra storage and very high boot lip

What our testers said: 'Coupe body style disguises spacious cabin that looks and feels more claustrophobic than it really is.'

Range Rover Evoque

  • Things we like: Access excellent and space is great all-round, boot is big and wide and there's a good amount of extra storage
  • Things we don't: Boot lip is high, seats heavy to lift back up into place, small door bins

What our testers said: 'Most practical car here in terms of space, but a few extra touches to show extra attention to detail.'

Practicality winner: Range Rover Evoque


Design and desirability

While looks are – of course – subjective, some cars stand out more than others, whether you want the attention or not.

We’d like to see more than just eye-catching design, though – neat, well thought through features that make the car easier to use and live with are just as important as what it’ll look like on the driveway.

Audi Q2

  • Things we like: User-friendly cabin, simple, easy-to-use controls, sophisticated design, excellent infotainment
  • Things we don't: Extras are expensive, few personalisation options

What our testers said: 'Usual high-quality finish backed up by user-friendly cabin with nice design. Shame about the expensive options.'

Infiniti QX30

  • Things we like: Striking exterior styling, choice of controls for infotainment
  • Things we don't: Odd mix of interior materials, slow and complex infotainment system

What our testers said: 'The inside doesn't match up to the interesting exterior, and ultimately doesn't live up to the high price.'

MINI Countryman

  • Things we like: Quirky looks, interesting cabin design, BMW-derived infotainment, nice materials and over 100,000 personalisation options
  • Things we don't: Infotainment controls may be too fiddly for some, polarising looks won't suit all

What our testers said: 'One of the most interesting to look at and be in, the Countryman manages to look good but also be functional.'

Toyota C-HR

  • Things we like: Eye-catching looks, lovely interior, infotainment within easy reach with big screen
  • Things we don't: Mix of materials, rakish body means poor visibility

What our testers said: 'Striking looks hide a well-designed cabin that's easy to use, but the compromise is restricted visibility.'

Range Rover Evoque

  • Things we like: Prestigious badge appeal, classy interior, quality materials (mostly)
  • Things we don't: Infotainment dated and fiddly, some materials feel low-rent

What our testers said: 'Overwhelming appeal of the badge outshines the fact it feels a little dated in places, despite the solid build.'


The Parkers Poll: desirability

We also conducted a poll of nearly 200 people, asking them which they liked the best and which one they would like to see on their driveway. These are the results in order of most desirable to the least - and it’s clear to which is the favourite - along with some reasons that were given by voters:

  • Range Rover Evoque - 39% - Vast majority of votes centred around the Range Rover badge and the overall image
  • Audi Q2 - 19% - Similar effect to the Range Rover. An Audi badge on the grille holds strong appeal
  • Toyota C-HR - 18% - Striking looks contributed to the success of the C-HR - voters didn't expect it to be a Toyota
  • Infiniti QX30 - 16% - The mystery of the Infiniti brand was a talking point, but voters liked the overall look and that it's different
  • MINI Countryman - 8% - Disappointing response to the MINI centred around it being too big for the brand

Design winners: Toyota C-HR for looks, Audi Q2 for ease of use, Range Rover Evoque for desirability

Used cars for sale

Buying

Is it easy to find a dealer? How much will it cost to buy with cash or on finance?

We’ve shown the standard list price for these cars, as well as the exact values of the cars on test including any optional extras that may be fitted with.

The finance prices are for the standard price of the car (without options), based on a deposit of £3,000, with a 10,000-mile annual mileage limit and a three-year contract.

Audi Q2

Price: £23,715
Price of our test car: £29,125
Finance: £338* per month

Infiniti QX30

Price: £33,370
Price of our test car: £37,020
Finance: £427* per month

MINI Countryman

Price: £26,025
Price of our test car: £35,740
Finance: £371* per month

Toyota C-HR

Price: £27,995
Price of our test car: £30,740
Finance: £427* per month

Range Rover Evoque

Price new: £33,505
Estimated value of our test car, a 64-reg model: £26,245 from a franchised dealer
Finance: Variable based on different dealers' interest rates and prices

Buying winner: Audi Q2

*Deals are correct at time of publication. Everyone's financial circumstances are different and credit is not always available - Parkers cannot recommend a deal for you specifically. These deals are indicative examples of some packages available this week.


Owning

You don’t want to buy a new car and be lumbered with ruinously high running costs and numerous trips to the petrol station.

This is how much you’ll be paying to run one of these cars, and we’ve displayed the test fuel economy against the manufacturers' claimed fuel economy.

Audi Q2

Audi ownership should prove hassle-free, with customer-pleasing dealers and a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty, should anything go haywire. Service intervals are variable, but everything is easy to access under the bonnet should you want to take a look yourself.

 

  • Claimed fuel economy: 51.4mpg
  • Test fuel economy: 45.3mpg

Infiniti QX30

Very few dealers compared with other companies here, but Infiniti focuses on the customer experience, which helps. You’ll need to service the QX30 every 12 months or 15,000 miles, while the warranty covers you for three years and 62,000 miles.

  • Claimed fuel economy: 57.6mpg
  • Test fuel economy: 33.6mpg

MINI Countryman

Attached to BMW dealers, it won’t be hard to find a MINI showroom. Opt for a TLC servicing package and you’ll get five years’ worth of servicing thrown in for £500, while the warranty covers you for three years and unlimited mileage.

  • Claimed fuel economy: 58.9mpg
  • Test fuel economy: 41.6mpg

Toyota C-HR

Toyota offers the most enticing ownership package with a five-year, 100,000-mile warranty for greater peace of mind. It’ll require a service every 10,000 miles or 12 months.

Claimed fuel economy: 72.4mpg
Test fuel economy: 44.3mpg

Range Rover Evoque

Depending on the age of the car you may be looking at, the Evoque will have a shorter warranty than these cars. The standard Land Rover warranty for a new car is three years and unlimited mileage, so you’ll get the balance of this if the car’s less than three years old. It’ll need a service every 12 months or 15,000 miles.

  • Claimed fuel economy: 58.9mpg (new)
  • Test fuel economy: 34.3mpg

The best to own: Audi Q2 for lowest running costs, but Toyota's five-year warranty beats the rest and wins on peace of mind

VERDICT
Which stylish SUV is best for you?

From the word go the winner was quite clear. The C-HR is one of our favourite Toyota cars for years and stands head and shoulders above some very talented rivals in this test.

For a start it’s the quirkiest – both in looks and drivetrain – but its talents rise above pure novelty. It’s great to drive and boasts eye-catching design inside and out, with an ergonomic and well-assembled interior and high levels of comfort and refinement.

In terms of pure practicality it is bettered by other cars here – the Countryman has more rear passenger space and the Evoque boasts a larger boot – but as an all-rounder the C-HR runs away with the title.


The winner

Second place – highly recommended

MINI Countryman

Third place

Range Rover Evoque

Fourth place

Audi Q2

Fifth place

Infiniti QX30

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