BMW X6 xDrive30d M Sport
List price £56,515
Target Price £51,960
Still has Marmite looks, but now there's a bigger boot, a smarter interior and lower CO2 emissions
Porsche Cayenne Diesel
List price £53,044
Target Price £53,044
The latest Cayenne gets a more powerful diesel engine that also manages to emit less CO2
Range Rover Sport SDV6 HSE
List price £62,745
Target Price £62,630
The current benchmark in this sector. Big, comfortable, classy and extremely pleasant to drive
The Range Rover Sport has been king of large SUVs since its launch in 2013. Its top-notch refinement, superb driving manners and elegant, classy interior have traditionally given it the edge over the Porsche Cayenne and BMW's opinion-dividing SUV-cum-coupé, the X6.
However, both German cars have been updated to make them more powerful and more efficient and, in the case of the X6, more practical. So do they now have too much for the Range Rover?
Well, the Cayenne looks the bargain of the three at a shade over £53,000; the Range Rover will cost you almost £9586 more than that. However, while the Range Rover is brimming with standard luxuries, the Cayenne is verging on spartan.
At first glance, the X6 seems to strike the middle ground by having almost as much standard kit as the Range Rover for a more reasonable £56,515. But when you factor in discounts, it's actually the cheapest of the three, making it very tempting on paper
What are they like to drive?
The X6 is the fastest car here, despite having the least power. Its 255bhp diesel engine pulls hard from low revs, and although it responds a little too sharply when you press the accelerator, you soon learn to drive around this.
More frustrating is the gearbox in the Cayenne, because this tends to hold on to gears for too long and sometimes hesitates when you ask for acceleration. It's a shame, because the 259bhp engine that it's connected to is very strong.
The hefty mid-range response from the Range Rover’s 288bhp V6 gives it the pace to match the Cayenne in most situations, and its gearchanges are slick. In fact, it's the easiest car to drive smoothly in town, because it also offers very predictable accelerator responses.
All three engines become a bit vocal when revved hard, while road noise is most noticeable in the Cayenne at a steady 70mph. True, overall refinement is good in each car, but the Range Rover sets the benchmark, keeping wind and engine noise to a distant thrum at speed, and isolating you the best from engine vibrations.
The X6 is the most overtly sporting, with little body roll, steering that’s quick and weighty, and a grippy front end. Even so, we reckon most people will prefer the Cayenne’s steering, which is slower but offers more feedback.
Our test Cayenne came with optional £1052 adaptive dampers, and despite suffering from a bit more body lean than the X6 through corners, it felt almost as nimble.
The Range Rover comes with air suspension as standard, but our test car had the £6000 Dynamic Pack fitted, which adds active anti-roll bars to help minimise body lean. It still rolls more than the others, but it’s agile, and the light, precise steering makes it satisfying to drive.
All of these cars fidget on poor roads, but the X6 shudders the most over potholes, and is the most easily unsettled by mid-corner bumps. The Range Rover is best at keeping occupants comfortable on most road surfaces, particularly on the motorway.
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