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Upmarket cars and SUVs tested – including one you can afford

See how the latest premium cars and SUVs perform in our expert lab tests – can you get away with spending less?

Are premium cars and SUVs all they’re cracked up to be, or are you just paying over-the-odds for the brand name? This month, we review a whole range of upmarket motors, including both small and large SUVs, as well as a ‘sporty’ saloon and four-door coupé. Find out which perform the best, and fail to stand out from the crowd.

First up, we’ve reviewed two compact SUVs – for those who love a high ride height and offroad looks, but don’t want a bulky motor that’s difficult to park. But is it worth paying £10,000 more on the BMW X1, or is the Vauxhall Crossland X a great money-saver? Our experts give their verdict.

Meanwhile, if you need a seven-seater SUV, the Lexus RX-L Hybrid looks like a modern and luxurious choice. But can a car this big really be great to drive? We take it for a spin to find out.

If you love coupé looks with a sweeping roofline, but want four-door practicality, the Audi A7 Sportback could be the choice for you.  Provided, that is, it lives up to expectations, rather than being overpriced.

The Volvo S60, which Volvo calls a sports saloon, looks like a cheaper and practical alternative. Discover if it’s worth a look.

Find out what we thought of all of these cars through the links below.

Whatever your budget, we’ll help you find the right car. Our expert lab tests reveal the best cars.

BMW X1, £26,568

The BMW X1 is the German car manufacturer’s smallest model in its ‘X’ range of SUVs. This latest generation X1 sports more overtly off-road looks than its tamer-looking predecessor.

BMW offers two petrol and two diesel engines. All bar the entry-level petrol are available in both front-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive configurations.

A six-speed manual is standard on cheaper versions, with an automatic gearbox available as an option.

It looks like it might be ideal for city use, with its scaled-down SUV approach and high driving position. Plus its premium-styled, spacious interior aims to set it apart from cheaper rivals.

But is it great to drive, and how much does it cost to run? Our experts give all the details in the BMW X1 review.

Vauxhall Crossland X, £15,033

Vauxhall launched the Crossland X compact SUV into a packed market – so does the Crossland X have anything to offer above its rivals? The price certainly looks attractive compared with the X1, but it’s actually slightly above the starting price of direct rivals such as the Nissan Juke.

The Crossland X is the third SUV in Vauxhall’s range. It’s priced below the similarly-sized Mokka X and larger Grandland X. Although the Crossland X is targeted at a more mainstream crowd than the more adventurous Mokka X, which has a 4×4 option.

Now that Vauxhall is owned by Peugeot, the Crossland X shares its underpinnings, petrol and diesel engines, and transmissions with the Peugeot 2008 and Citroën C3 Aircross.

There’s a wide range of trim levels to choose from. All come with alloy wheels, climate control, cruise control and Vauxhall’s OnStar and IntelliLink communication system as standard.

Go for the mid-range Techline Nav trim to add front and rear parking sensors, and touchscreen navigation.

So is this a wise choice to get the most bang for your buck? We put it to the test – see our extensive Vauxhall Crossland X review.

Lexus RX-L Hybrid, £47,914

If you need an SUV with bags of space for people and luggage, this brand-new hybrid Lexus RX-L could be just the ticket. It’s the seven-seat version of the brand’s luxury Lexus RX SUV, aimed at increasing the SUV’s appeal to families.

The dimensions are largely the same as the RX – you’d have to park them next to each other to notice the elongated rear bodywork to fit in the extra seats.

However, it’s a bit late to the party compared with rivals, as they all offer seven-seat variants of models – including the BMW X5, Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90.

The Lexus RX-L is exclusively available as a petrol-hybrid, powered by a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine and two electric motors for a combined power output of 313hp.

Lexus says that’s enough to get this 2.2-tonne SUV from 0mph to 62mph in an impressive 7.7 seconds. All models are fitted with CVT automatic transmission as standard and four-wheel-drive.

Find out whether this is the perfect practical and fun car for your family in our first look Lexus RX-L Hybrid review.

Audi A7 Sportback, £42,505

The Audi A7 is a slightly odd concoction – it’s aimed at those who love the sporty looks of a coupé, but need the practicality of a four-door saloon.

It’s packed with tech, with the entry Sport trim offering 19-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, and LED lights all around. Plus Audi’s MMI Navigation Plus including a 10.1-inch touchscreen display, wireless charging pad for compatible mobile phones and more.

However, this certainly isn’t a cheap car, and you’ll have to pay more if you want even more gizmos.

Find out whether this car is style over substance or a worthy contender for your shortlist in our Audi A7 review.

Volvo S60, £37,935

Volvo claims the new Volvo S60 saloon is the best-handling Volvo ever, with its sporty marketing and sculpted, muscular appearance.

Competing against premium mid-size saloons such as the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, it’s the seventh launch in Volvo’s latest breed of Scandi-chic cars kicked off by the XC90 SUV in 2015.

However, the Volvo S60 is something different.

In addition to Volvo’s new hallmark luxury, the Swedish firm’s given the S60 a sporty twist and claims a dynamic drive.

From launch there’s only a single 250hp T5 petrol engine with front wheel drive, but this is soon to be joined by a T8 hybrid engine with a combined power of 390hp, and a performance ‘Polestar Engineered’ version with 405hp.

Both the latter choices promise 0-62mph in less than five seconds and come with all-wheel drive.

This will be the first Volvo ever to not have a diesel engine option.

Could this be the perfect racy-but-practical car with Swedish flair you’ve been waiting for? See what we thought in our first look Volvo S60 review.

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