Singapore Motorshow 2019: Best SUVs/Crossovers

Crossover craziness was definitely a major theme of the 2019 Singapore Motorshow – more than half of the new debutants were of the high riding variety


Audi Q3 $TBA

A big increase in visual aggression marks the increase in size for the second-gen Audi Q3. Formerly the baby of the Q (Audi’s SUV) range like how the A3 used to be the smallest Audi car, the introduction of the Q2 means the Q3 can now grow upmarket.

As we saw in the imposing Q8, Audi’s design language is evolving into something with more menace, as can be seen in the Q3’s massive octagonal grille, chiseled flanks, and tapered, pointy headlights.

Similarly, the interior bears more than a passing resemblance to the big Q8, with a fully digital instrument cluster and a swathe of glossy black into which the 10-inch touchscreen disappears if not turned on. It’s all properly expensive looking, and as a bonus there’s also a lot more space for passengers too.

For now though, the Q3’s presence here just a special preview for the model – the first in Asia – to whet some appetites. Specific engine options and features will be confirmed in due time.

BMW X5 – From S$342,888 with COE

It may not be the biggest selling BMW of them all (that would be the 3 Series), but the X5 is still one of the most important. As the founding member of the BMW X family (the name for all the company’s SUVs), the X5 has become one of the major image shapers for the brand.

That’s probably why it’s no surprise that BMW chose to debut some pretty major company-wide technology in this fourth-generation ‘G05’ X5: the latest iteration of its iDrive infotainment operating system – vers 7.0 – makes its production debut here, although if you attended BMW World Singapore back in August, you may also have seen a pre-production version of the system in the Z4 and 8 Series display cars.

In addition to the swanky new tech, the X5 gains more luxurious materials all-around, as well as the option of a dedicated off-road package, the first for any BMW. For a more complete rundown of features, check out our review when we drove the car in the US last year.

For now, the only version on offer is the xDrive40i, which packs the same 340hp 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six as the brand’s other ‘40i’ models, like the 640i GT, though in slightly less powerful tune than in the cooking M Performance models – M340i, X3 M40i, etc. Standard specification includes air suspension, self-parking, 4-zone climate control, and soft-close doors, and the car can be had in xLine or M Sport trims. A seven-seater version will arrive in Q2 this year, with a plug-in hybrid and V8-powered M50i also to follow.

DS 7 Crossback – From S$179,888 with COE

The French don’t often make serious stabs at making luxury cars but when they do, the results are head-turning. Such is the case with this, the DS 7 Crossback; DS Automobiles, remember, is a brand spun off from Citroen, to serve as the luxury arm of the PSA Group (which also encompasses Peugeot and Opel/Vauxhall).

As such, PSA has pulled a VAG, stretching its modular EMP2 platform (equivalent to Volkswagen’s MQB) to create this mid-sized crossover. It rivals the VW Tiguan on size, as well as the BMW X1, Jaguar E-Pace, and Volvo XC40 on price.

In its bid to rival the Germans, the DS 7 features a deeply impressive bit of kit: Active Scan suspension monitors the road ahead and can prime the active dampers to stiffen up or slacken off depending on what the wheels are about to run over.

The interior is also heavy on wow-factor, with unique switchgear, a huge central touchscreen (with buttons as menu shortcuts below), and a digital instrument cluster with switchable displays that are a lot more creative than the sensible but flair-less Germans’. Propulsion is handled by a 225hp version of the 1.6-litre turbo from the 3008.

Lexus UX – From S$149,800 with COE

Lexus has fathered a new baby, and it immediately wants to play in the big leagues: the UX, Lexus’s first compact crossover, is here to challenge the Audi Q2, BMW X2 and Mercedes GLA.

With prices starting below $150k, the UX outguns the competition. In UX 200 form, its 2.0-litre engine is easily more powerful than the others, with 170hp. The key highlight of this is its transmission, what Lexus calls “Direct Shift” CVT; which combines a traditional torque converter and single gear with the CVT transmission to reduce the dreaded and fun-sapping “rubber band acceleration” effect that’s endemic of all CVTs. We tried it during our drive of it in Sweden last year, and we think it certainly works.

Since it’s a Lexus, a hybrid version is naturally also available, the UX 250h. It uses the same engine, mated to a new generation of hybrid drive system, to give a total of 181hp. Here though, the engine’s tuned for efficiency, and the gearbox is a normal CVT, but electric power helps make the UX 250h faster in a sprint, while being more economical to boot.

Reading between the lines, it would appear that Lexus is keen for the UX to usurp the IS saloon as the first rung on the ladder of Lexus ownership. Partly because the UX is about 15 grand cheaper than the latter, and also because the IS was notable by its absence on the motorshow stand.

Porsche Macan (facelift) – From S$250,088 without COE

In what is perhaps a sign that shows just how crazy the world of crossovers is, the fastest selling Porsche ever isn’t the iconic 911, or the entry-level Boxster, but the Macan: 350,000 of them have already rolled off the assembly line, even though the model is only less than five years old.

For its mid-life cycle refresh, the changes to the Macan are few and far between, on the outside at least. Up front, your only clues are the new four-dot LED headlights, but things are more obvious round the back, with a light bar connecting the taillights, a la new Cayenne, Panamera, and upcoming ‘992’-gen of the 911.

Inside, the Macan’s cabin sports a major tech upgrade, with its old 7-inch touchscreen being junked in favour of the 11-inch unit from the Cayenne and Panamera, which incidentally has also required the aircon vents to be repositioned below it.

Also borrowed from its bigger stablemates is the 3.0L V6 in the Macan S (S$288,788), which replaces the old twin-turbo 3.0L unit. Though it drops one turbocharger, power and torque have actually increased by 14hp and 20Nm, to 354hp and 480Nm in total. Meanwhile, the 2.0L four-cylinder in the base Macan still puts out the same 252hp, but has received tweaks to cut down on emissions.

Suzuki S-Cross – From S$99,900 with COE

Not quite a proper SUV, not quite a normal hatchback, the Suzuki S-Cross busts conventional genre moulds, just like its arch-rival the Nissan Qashqai. This here’s a facelift of the car that first arrived in 2014, with new lights, as well as a new metallic grille that’s definitely a whole lot more distinctive than before, though not necessarily prettier.

The biggest change can be found under the bonnet. Out goes the old 1.6-litre naturally-aspirated engine, and in comes a 1.0-litre three-cylinder “Boosterjet”. It’s slightly less powerful, at 109hp, but has more torque, at 160Nm. At the same time, fuel economy goes up and emissions go down, although surprisingly the S-Cross is still slapped with a $20k surcharge for falling into VES band C2.

Otherwise, the rest of the S-Cross remains pretty much the same. You get seven airbags, a roomy interior with reclining rear seats, a 430-litre boot, cruise control, and 17-inch wheels.

Toyota RAV4 – From S$119,988 with COE

The car that kick-started the whole crossover genre is back and now bolder than ever. Out go the curves and in come the geometric lines for the new Toyota RAV4, now in its fifth generation.

Built on the TNGA-K (Toyota New Global Architecture) platform, just like the new Camry and Lexus ES, the RAV4 is overall a slightly smaller vehicle than before, although the wheelbase has been stretched 30mm for more room.

There’s only one version locally, with the same 2.0-litre as in the Lexus UX, as well as the Direct Shift CVT gearbox. It costs just a hair under $120k, which is really impressive considering its size.

Apart from its practicality (580-litres of boot space) and looks, the RAV4 should also find favour with buyers on the safety front. Seven airbags is good but nothing groundbreaking, although Toyota Safety Sense is more impressive. TSS is an active safety package with systems not normally found at this price range, including pre-collision system (warning you of an imminent crash and hitting the brakes if you don’t react), radar cruise control and lane departure warning/lane keep assist.

about the author

Jon Lim
CarBuyer's staff writer was its fourth historical Jonathan. Old-fashioned in all but body, he thinks car design peaked in the '90s and is enthusiastic about vintage cars and old machinery.