Despite so much controversy, the coupé SUV design has become mainstream. We see new models going on sale every year, usually without replacing the regular SUV of similar size. Automakers typically make them “emotional and rational” counterparts; a perfect option for every taste. That only proves how far have SUVs gone: their segment is large enough to demand more and more subdivisions.
This article is going to show you the best coupé SUV models in the compact luxury category. That is one of their biggest segments so far and, as a consequence, one of the most diverse. The models below come from several regions, use multiple powertrain options, have different advantages… and yet come at similar prices. Take a look at how each one fights to earn a spot at your garage.
Audi Q5 Sportback
The Sportback arrived in 2020 along with the Q5’s facelift to engage in the coupé SUV as fast as possible. Audi took the conservative approach and markets both bodies as versions of the same model. However, the one with the raked roof usually gets more powerful engine options and carries a small price premium. Keep in mind that, if you are looking for serious performance, Audi wants you to take a look at the SQ5.
It is hard to get design right at the first try. The rounded roof strives to make headroom while keeping the total length under control. Nevertheless, the car still looks bulky – ironically, the long-wheelbase variation designed for China is more balanced. Everything else comes from the Q5, including the S Line appearance package. Pronounced air vents and thick silver frames make the overall result look more appealing.
Four is the appropriate number of occupants to use the Sportback at once. The cabin uses stoic design to wrap high-quality build and trim and cutting-edge technology: top-tier versions get Audi’s reconfigurable digital gauge cluster. The rear seat folds in 40/20/40, but that does not make much to increase the trunk’s volume. At least you will enjoy a great equipment list even if you pick the entry-level version.
Besides front, side and curtain airbags, this coupé SUV offers several driver assists as standard. Some are automated emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, collision mitigation, lane-departure alert, parking system with front and rear sensors, and stability and traction controls. As you can imagine, the further you go in the list of trims and optional items, the more safety items your Q5 Sportback will have.
The regular Sportback always uses a turbocharged, 2.0L I4 engine. Lower trims make 261 hp and 273 lb-ft while the plug-in hybrid adds an electric motor and jumps to combined 362 hp and 369 lb-ft. As you can imagine, the latter is the thriftiest with 27 mpg combined and an EV range of 23 miles. The SQ5 employs a turbocharged 3.0L V6 good for 358 hp and 369 lb-ft with firm steering and Quattro all-wheel drive.
Pros & Cons
- Many trim and powertrain options available
- Cabin is filled with tech-related equipment
- S Line package is a beautiful visual addition
- Main competitors have more cargo capacity
- Non-sporty trims are not engaging to drive
- Warranty coverage plans could be better
After founding the very segment using the X6, BMW doubled on its coupé SUV offensive with the X4. This model shares underpinnings with the 3 Series and offers sublime dynamic behavior. If your needs are not so practical, giving up on the X3 will grant you access to something much faster and prettier – the second generation features one of the most balanced body designs of its emerging market category.
Despite being shorter and less fancy, the X4 manages to look more mature than its older brother X6. The sloping roof line is smoother and the windows are longer than usual in the coupé SUV category. The final result is balanced and athletic, especially with the standard M Sport appearance package. The sleek head and tail lights contribute to make the model look nimbler than the founder of its category.
The cabin offers minimalist design and plenty of room for four. While the raked roof takes up some room, the seats are comfortable and the build quality is excellent. The cutting-edge infotainment system uses a 12.3″ screen, a 12-speaker audio system, and HD radio. As an option, you can upgrade the car with hand-gesture recognition in order to control its numerous functions more easily with five gestures.
The Active Driving Assistant package is offered as standard. It includes multiple electronic items such as blind-spot detection, collision warning, mitigation and preparation, cross-traffic alert, driver monitoring, lane-departure warning, and roll, stability and traction controls. The model offers many other items too, but most of the cutting-edge technologies are restricted to option packages at extra cost.
The base xDrive30i uses a 2.0L I4 good for 248 hp of power and 258 lb-ft. The intermediate version is the M40i, whose 3.0L I6 reaches 382 hp and 365 lb-ft. If you want even more power, the X4 M adds a second turbocharger to that 3.0L and reaches 503 hp and 442 lb-ft – the specialized press has made it accelerate quicker than the M3. All versions use eight-sped automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.
Pros & Cons
- One of the most attractive of the category
- M Competition offers amazing performance
- Chassis tuning makes dynamics awesome
- Dashboard is pretty but too conservative
- Less available cargo space than in the X3
- Best safety features come at extra cost
Ford Mustang Mach E
If premium brands do not tickle your fancy, you have a chance to trade them for fully electric powertrain. Ford’s new interpretation of the Mustang name has earned wide praise from the specialized press due to its combination of impressive performance, practical interior and non-pollutant powertrain. Nevertheless, forgetting the “Mustang” name is the best way to approach this car without any frustrations.
Ford adapted the Mustang shape to the coupé SUV body. It is easy to see some missteps there, such as a tall roof and a weird arch where the radiator grille should be. However, it is undeniable that the company did a great job at reinterpreting multiple iconic visual elements. Once you let the name issue go, you will see that this model turned out to be one of the most interesting in this market category.
Forget about historical references here. From the minimalist dashboard centered around a touchscreen to the battery pack crammed under the cabin, everything follows the current SUV trend. The equipment list includes an array of niceties such as ambient lighting, panoramic sunroof, washable front trunk, wireless charging, and the SYNC infotainment system with countless functions and over-the-air updates.
While there are no NHTSA ratings yet, the equipment list anticipates how safe the Mach E is. Some of the most interesting standard items are collision mitigation, driver monitoring, front, side and curtain airbags, lane-keeping assist, MyKey to set limits to secondary drivers, and the CoPilot360 suite that includes blind-spot monitoring and emergency braking. Warranty coverages are competitive in the category.
Your Mach E can have one or two motors, standard and long-range batteries, and regular and sporty trim levels. Lesser combinations make 266 hp and 317 lb-ft and use 70-kWh batteries while top-spec ones are good for 480 hp, 600 lb-ft and 91 kWh. While the dynamic behavior is awesome in general, it is clear that this is not a regular Mustang: the top qualities here are smooth ride and quiet operation.
Pros & Cons
- Excellent job at such a tough design mission
- Cabin is practical, roomy and great-looking
- Impressive performance for a coupé SUV
- The Mustang name is an unnecessary burden
- Ride quality is not composed all the time
- Top trim levels make prices go up fast
This company is no stranger to the coupé SUV style – it created the FX back in 2003. Nowadays, the QX55 offers a fashionable alternative to the QX50 with exclusivities such as standard AWD, sportier design trim, and a price premium. Everything else is shared with the conventional SUV, including a nice equipment list and Infiniti’s brand new turbocharged 2.0L engine which features variable compression ratio.
Infiniti’s current visual identity makes a perfect match with the QX55. The sleek lights and angular shapes enhance a sense of athleticism that only makes the model sportier. When it comes to the cabin, there are two touchscreens to suit tech-savvy customers, well-balanced design to please everyone with good taste, and a discreet two-tone upholstery in black and red to stay away from any excesses.
You can expect the typical differences from the QX50. Dashboard and trim are pretty much the same, but opting for the raked roof line takes a toll on the headroom. An interesting touch is using open-pore wood on the accents, while most rivals apply carbon fiber. The upper touchscreen is focused on navigation so as to leave media, phone connectivity and radio, among many others to the lower one.
Even though the model is yet to be tested by national entities, you can expect similar performance to that of the QX50. In the latter, the base safety package brings collision mitigation, emergency braking, front, curtain, knee and side airbags, and stability and traction controls. Upscale trims add blind-spot detection, parking sensors, and a complete system of external cameras to provide aerial view.
The VC-Turbo engine makes 268 hp of power and 280 lb-ft of torque. It always comes with a CVT gearbox and to all-wheel drive and makes combined 25 mpg according to the EPA. Definitely a great package, but the fact that everything comes from the QX50 makes it rather frustrating in the sportier sibling. Besides that, the lack of any electrification technology makes the mileage figures unimpressive in the category.
Pros & Cons
- Elegant and athletic external design
- Modern structure and gasoline powertrain
- Nice standard equipment list
- No options of electrified powertrain available
- Little character differentiation from the QX50
- Headroom typically reduced by coupé roof
Like the BMW archenemy, the compact footprint makes the GLC Coupé more stylish than its older brother GLE. The Mercedes steers the coupé SUV experience towards luxury with elegant design and a long list of standard items. Then again, if you are willing to pay the premium for the AMG versions, the 43 is going to make things more exciting… and the even more expensive 63 is going to downright fascinate you.
The GLC has several elements shared with other Mercedes-Benz cars. While they make the car quite fancy even for the category’s standards, they also take away its individual character. The long roof and the short third box are a great addition to its visual balance. The maker also offers two comprehensive appearance packages: AMG Line and Night, each one focused on a specific type of visual differentiation.
Elegant design and comfortable seats are the main features here. High build quality is standard as well as Mercedes-Benz’s brand new infotainment system. The 12.3″ digital dashboard and the 10.3″ touchscreen control multiple car functions including smartphone connectivity and turn-by-turn navigation. The system can also be upgraded with an even better Burmester audio system and a wireless charger.
One of the most generous standard safety packages here. Active brake assist, aerial-view cameras, blind-spot monitoring, collision mitigation, driver monitoring, emergency call, many types of airbags, parking assist, and stability and traction controls with crosswind assist. Nevertheless, it is possible to make things even better by ordering optional items such as the AMG Line and Night appearance packages.
The standard package features a turbocharged 2.0L I4 good for 255 hp of power and 273 lb-ft of torque, all-wheel drive, and a nine-speed automatic transmission. The AMG 43 version recruits a 3.0L I6 to reach 385 hp and 384 lb-ft and the 63 makes 469 hp and 479 lb-ft – which can be even more if you opt for the S package. They are all widely praised for agile and precise steering and strong acceleration.
Pros & Cons
- Refined and tasteful design all around
- Excellent performance at the AMG versions
- Many comfort and safety items as standard
- Typical sacrifices of head and cargo room
- Regular version has only regular dynamics
- Optionals and AMG tuning drive up prices
Danillo Almeida has explored his passion for cars in two distinct ways. The first one is his graduation course in Mechanical Engineering, which will hopefully lead to a job position in the field. The other one is expressing his knowledge and opinions on the matter through writing. Almeida has already contributed to blogs, stores, and websites in general writing automotive content in many formats.