Another segment that is relatively new to the Australian market, it seems every manufacturer wants a piece of the Small Luxury SUV pie, and competition is getting more and more fierce.
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Drive Car of the Year 2021 - Best Small Luxury SUV


Many Australian buyers are making their first foray into the luxury market via an SUV now rather than a small sedan or hatchback. As such, every luxury manufacturer seemingly wants to get in on the action.

Even getting down to three finalists was a tough task for the judges. Quality offerings across just about all manufacturers means overall supremacy sometimes comes down to small details, price points, or standard inclusions, such is the level of competition.

Another factor that plays a major part in the judging process is how useful these small SUVs are for situations where they are the only vehicle in a one-car family. Buyers obviously expect a level of premium inclusions and standard equipment, but interior comfort and practicality also play their part. How they behave on longer, country drives is also vital, even though most will ply their trade around town.

Audi’s Q3 has been a strong contender in this segment since its launch and continues in many ways to show the way forward. The Mercedes-Benz GLA offers a range of model variants right up to AMG level and builds on the excellent A-Class platform. Volvo’s XC40 delivers on the brand’s exceptional cabin quality and ergonomics while delivering safety and a rock-solid driving feel.

And the Winner is...

Volvo XC40

Volvo’s XC40 is as smart as it is stylish. The build quality, cabin appointments and drive experience as as good as it gets.

There’s always a healthy debate about whether buyers ‘need’ a small SUV, let alone a small luxury SUV. Australian buyers have spoken, however, and all three finalists are immensely popular in the market. Our finalists approach the same solution with a vastly different answer in their own way, too.

For many buyers, the finalists are a second car, playing second fiddle to a large SUV, sporty sedan or out and out sports car. For others though, they are the only vehicle or main run-around, and as such, practicality and cabin space play a large part in the buying decision.

All three finalists offer a strong case, and each vehicle appeals to different buyers for different reasons. Badge loyalty plays a part, as does driving dynamics, with style possibly the most important factor for buyers. In their own way, all three are a stylish take on the Small Luxury SUV segment, but the most competent all-rounder, especially with a plug-in hybrid variant, is the Volvo XC40.