Best of 2021: Adventure vehicles
Tuesday 28th December, 2021 - 6:20am
We’re continuing our look back on the best new models of 2021 – and today it’s time for adventure.
While we love performance here at Torquecafe, there’s more than one kind of performance. The ability to get off the beaten track and come home safely is something we enjoy, and we know you do too.
So here’s our pick of the cars ideal for your next adventure, in no particular order.
Volkswagen Amarok W580S
Ford changed the ute game with the launch of the Ranger Raptor. So when Volkswagen wanted to respond it called in the big guns – Walkinshaw Group. The company once famous for making HSV has evolved into a go-to performance and engineering partner for any major brand looking for a boost.
Volkswagen Australia commissioned the Amarok W580 and W580S to be a new range-topping hero model to take on the Ranger Raptor, Toyota HiLux Rogue and Nissan Navara PRO-4X Warrior – but with a twist. Instead of building a rugged off-roader, the local Volkswagen operation opted for a more on-road focused ‘GT-style’ ute.
The results were impressive, taking an already excellent ute and making it even better.
The Italian brand’s SUV is unlike anything else. While it’s not really designed to head off-road, it certainly can get its big alloy wheels dirty if you really want to.
Instead this is the ultimate iteration of the high-performance SUV, powered by a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 that makes a neck-snapping 478kW/850Nm.
It’s advanced chassis and suspension system means that when you do drive it on the road it feels more like a sports sedan than a high-riding crossover, and that’s probably what you expect and want from a Lamborghini.
When it comes to adventure, this American brand is synonymous with heading to far-flung reaches of the wilderness. The Gladiator is based on the Wrangler off-roader, but to give Jeep a rival to the incredibly popular Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger and co. it created this dual-cab ute version.
The Gladiator isn’t really designed for tradies, it’s targeted for people who want to get out in the outdoors and feel a part of it. That’s because it features unique elements like a removable roof and doors, that certainly makes it a stand-out in a crowded market.
Audi SQ5 TDI
It’s not hard to understand why the SQ5 has been one of Audi’s most popular models since it first arrived in 2013. This new-for-2021 model follows the same winning formula, installing a potent turbo diesel engine inside a more finely-toned SUV package.
The 3.0-litre V6 makes 251kW/700Nm to silence anyone who thinks a diesel-powered SUV can’t be a serious performance car. Add to the straightline performance a chassis set-up with adaptive dampers and a lowered ride height and you have a very appealing package.
Hyundai Kona N
Get ready for a new wave of performance cars – the ‘Hot SUV’ – with this Hyundai leading the way. This new breed of high-riding hot hatches are set to give people the option to have fun on the road or track, but still have the flexibility of an SUV to head off on adventures that a conventional hot hatch can’t.
Until now the performance SUV market has been dominated by the likes of Porsche, BMW and Audi, but Hyundai is leading the charge for the mainstream brands. Volkswagen will launch three ‘Hot SUVs’ in 2022 – the Tiguan R, T-Roc R and Touareg R.
The Kona N is a genuinely quick car and fun on a racetrack but Hyundai was determined to retain as much of the standard ride height, which means it has a unique character compared to the i30 N despite sharing much of the same mechanical DNA – including the engine, transmission and diff.