10 performance SUVs worth waiting for in 2021

SUVs transformed modern transportation in the last decade. They dethroned sedans and have become a global trend. The sports utility vehicles benefit from increased ground clearance and better visibility but provide plenty of room for passengers and cargo as well. Modern SUVs are also loaded with advanced tech and safety features while can be had with various propulsion solutions. The fast-growing trend is also electrification and it also brings multiple benefits. However, among the growing number of options buyers also give attention to the performance models and in the next section we list 10 performance SUVs worth waiting for in 2021.

Every major brand has multiple nameplates equipped with the performance hardware and more brands are getting into this market as well. Multiple prototypes recognized as the performance versions promising hot 2021 model year and there will be redesigned and all-new models from brands such as BMW, Mercedes, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Hyundai, etc.  The electrified powertrain provides also serious performance and with impressive mileage, they manage also instant acceleration and torque. Tesla, Jaguar, Volvo and other brands will introduce their battery-powered performance models for the 2021 model year.    

2021 Hyundai Kona N

2021 Hyundai Kona N

Hyundai’s popular, subcompact Kona SUV gets the high-performance N treatment for the 2021 model year as evinced by the spy photos and it stars our list of 10 performance SUVs for 2021.

The 2021 Hyundai Kona N should get similar treatment as the brand’s other N-badged versions including the Veloster and i30. The model will come with the upgraded chassis and braking system with the red-painted calipers. The dual-exhaust setup will also be part of the performance upgrade.

Under the hood of the Kona N should be a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing around 246 hp and torque of 275 lb-ft. There are also reports about the possible use of the 200+ hp 1.6-liter turbo-4 engine version. The engine could come paired with the new dual-clutch transmission.

The Kona N will also have a unique visual identity. There will be more aggressively styled front and rear bumpers. The side sills will also be deeper and another sports detail will be a rear spoiler. The model will also ride on the unique style and large-size wheels.

Cost, Availability:

It’s still unconfirmed when the 2021 Hyundai Kona will come but it is expected in the second half of the year. The model should cost several thousand more than the current most expensive Kona.

2021 Hyndai Tucson N

2021 Hyundai Tucson N

The upcoming, all-new, Hyundai Tucson could also get the N-badged version as the reports claim. However, unlike the Kona N which was spotted in the prototype form, the 2021 Hyundai Tucson N hasn’t yet been caught on the roads.

Like other vehicles from Hyundai’s N division, the Tucson N should also apple similar performance and visual upgrades.

The new generation Tucson will feature the brand’s newest design language previewed by the Vision T concept car and should come larger. The Tucson N would build on that with sportier bumpers, specific exterior and interior trim inserts, dual exhaust tips, performance brakes and wheels.

In the engine department, the model could use a turbocharged four-cylinder engine with power output around 340 hp as the reports claim. The new, dual-clutch transmission should also be in the mix.

Cost, Availability:

It’s still uncertain that Tucson N will come as the 2021 model and it could wait a year or two after the debut of the new-gen Tucson. The price should be around $40, 000.

2021 Aston Martin DBX

2021 Aston Martin DBX

Another racy model on our list of 10 performance SUVs for 2021 is the ultra-luxe 2021 Aston Martin DBX.

Like other Aston Martin-badged sports cars, the new DBX SUV has an aluminum structure. The model gets attention with broad-shoulders stance, corporate grille, sculpted rear and sports bumpers and wheels.

The power comes from the Mercedes-sourced 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine producing 542 horsepower and peak torque of 516 lb-ft. The engine is coupled to the Mercedes’ nine-speed automatic transmission. The DBX can hit 60 mph in just 4.3 seconds.

The model comes also with the ultra-posh cabin and latest tech features. There will be leather wood and metal surfaces combined with a 12.3-inch instrument cluster and a 10.25-inch center touchscreen.

Cost, Availability:

The 2021 Aston Martin DBX will cost from $189,900. Aston Martin’s first SUV goes on sale in the coming months.

2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLE 63 S

2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLE 63 S

Following the introduction of the second-generation GLE for the 2020 model year, the German brand brings the all-new 2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLE S version.

The redesigned, AMG-badged GLE model comes on the Mercedes’ upgraded architecture packed with serious, performance hardware. The power comes from the mighty 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine combined with the integrated electric motor dubbed EQ Boost. The system delivers 603 hp and torque of 627 lb-ft. The power is routed via the 9-speed automatic transmission to the all-wheel-drive system with the limited-slip rear differential. The model gets also the upgraded, carbon-ceramic brakes.

The AMG-badged GLE gets also the specific styling elements including AMG signature grille, sports bumpers, unique wheels and performance exhaust system. The cabin is packed with premium materials, the newest MBUX system and safety features.

Cost, Availability:

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLE 63 S goes on sale this fall. The price should have a starting point of about $115.000.

2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLS 63

2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLS 63

In a similar manner as the previous Mercedes SUV, the 2021 Mercedes-Benz MG GLS 63 is a follow-up of the last year introduced, third-generation GLS SUV and gets the place in our list of 10 performance SUVs for 2021.

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLS 63 builds over the regular GLS with the AMG moniker and high-performance hardware. 

The GLS 63 exploits the same twin-turbo V-8 engine assisted by the electric motor attached to the crankshaft. The result is a familiar 603 horsepower and torque of 627 lb-ft. The smooth 9-speed automatic transmission is again in the use mixed with the standard all-wheel-drive system.

The model comes also with the racy front and rear bumpers, larger brakes, AMG-branded grille and attractive wheels.

The equipment list includes level 2 autonomous safety systems, MBUX setup, premium materials, etc.

Cost, Availability:

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLS 63 will reach the market this summer with the starting price from $130, 000.

2021 Jaguar I-Pace SVR

2021 Jaguar I-Pace SVR

Jaguar launched the all-electric, small I-Pace SUV for the 2019 model year and the 2020 version is unchanged. However, the 2021 model year could bring a high-performance 2021 Jaguar I-Pace SVR version.

JLR already confirmed that the hot-all-electric SVR version is a matter of time but admitted it isn’t the top priority for the brand. Considering that the model could come beyond the 2021 model year.

In any case, the I-Pace SVR will get more macular bodywork than the regular version. There will be aero enhancements which will also affect the model’s look. The I-Pace SVR will also feature a lowered suspension combined with the enlarged wheels.

At the performance level, the model should come with a larger battery than the 90-kWh unit used in the current version. There will be additional electric motors to provide horsepower and torque well beyond the regular model’s 394 hp and 512 lb-ft. The SVR version will also get larger brakes and sports-tuned suspension.

Cost, Availability:

The 2021 Jaguar I-Pace SVR could debut by the end of the year as some reports suggest. But the model might also wait a year or two as it isn’t the brand’s top priority. The price of the model would be significantly higher than the current version.

2021 VW Tiguan R

2021 VW Tiguan R

VW is readying the facelifted Tiguan SUV, but alongside the regular model, the 2021 VW Tiguan R was also spotted testing and it deserves to be in the list of 10 performance SUVs for 2021.

The R Performance division-treated Tiguan was expected to come earlier but it seems now its launch will coincide with the model’s mid-cycle update.

The 2021 VW Tiguan R will, however, come in the short-wheelbase version only for the markets outside the US. No signs that the US-spec version will get this treatment.

Visually, the new Tiguan R will look mostly like the R-Line Sport appearance package version including the altered grille as part of the mid-update.  The Tiguan R will also get specific wheels and quad-exhaust setup.

Powering the model should be a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 engine used also in the T-Roc R and Golf R. The engine should deliver around 296 hp and a similar number of lb-ft. Combined with the engine will be a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and all-wheel-drive system. 

Cost, Availability:

The 2021 VW Tiguan R will debut later this year and the price will be known closer to its arrival.

2021 Ford Puma ST

2021 Ford Puma ST

Ford has also the crossover on our list of 10 performance SUVs for 2021 and we are peaking about the hot 2021 Ford Puma ST.

The Ford’s subcompact high-riding model comes with specific-style wheels and sportier bumpers. The model features also the revised fenders while the rear side gets larger spoiler. The more agile Puma comes with the dual-exhaust tips.

Ford’s small SUV gets also the upgraded brakes while the powering unit is sourced from the Ford Fiesta. A 1.5-liter three-cylinder turbocharged engine will work in the combination with the 6-speed manual gearbox and front-wheel-drive system. The model will have 198 hp and 214 lb-ft of torque at disposal. It should hit 60 mph under 7 seconds.  

The Puma ST will also get unique interior details such as the sports steering wheel and seats alongside modern tech and safety features.

Cost, Availability:

The 2021 Ford Puma ST should debut soon and go on sale later in the year. The price will be known closer to the market launch.

2021 Toyota C-HR GR

2021 Toyota C-HR GR

Toyota appears also to have a model for our list of 10 performance SUVs for 2021 as there are reports about the arrival of the 2021 Toyota C-HR GR.

The C-HR GR would be the brand’s new performance model following the Corolla GR. The performance C-HR SUV would go against the Ford Puma ST and VW T-Roc R.

The model will build on the C-HR’s already aggressive styling with the larger wheels and sportier bumpers. It should also get a contrasting roof paint job and exterior trim inserts.

The power should come from the turbocharged 1.6-liter three-cylinder engine sourced from the Yaris GR. The engine should produce around 268 hp and torque of 370 Nm. The all-wheel-drive will be equipped by default while both manual or automatic transmissions could be used.

Cost, Availability:

The hot 2021 Toyota C-HR GR could hit the market late this year as some reports claim. However, other sources suggest its arrival as the 2022 or 2023 version. The price is unknown at this moment.

2021 BMW X7 M

2021 BMW X7 M

Following the introduction of the X5 and X6 M versions, the three-row BMW X7 could reportedly be next in the line for the M treatment. This isn’t, however, been confirmed from BMW but we put this model in the list of 10 performance SUVs for 2021.

The large and luxurious BMW X7 comes already with the 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine under the hood producing 523 hp and torque of 553 lb-ft. The M version should, however, pack more than 600 ponies coming also with the reconfigured suspension and upgraded brakes. The 8-speed automatic transmission and the all-wheel-drive system will also be part of the package if the model appears.

The 2021 BMW X7 M will also signal its high-performance status with the M division reworked bumpers, grille, and wheels.

The cabin will also get M-reserved upgrades mixed with the top-notch tech, safety and comfort features.

Cost, Availability:

As we said BMW hasn’t commented on the arrival of the 2021 BMW X7 M version while rumors suggest it should debut later in the year or early next year. The model would cost well above $100, 000.

Conclusion:

No doubt that the SUV boom will continue in the new decade and alongside the new SUV versions including the battery-powered models, a number of the high-performance machines will grow fast.

We list just 10 performance SUVs for 2021 but Mercedes will continue rolling out its AMG-treated SUVs and we will also see more Audi and BMW performance models as well. Hyundai will also increase the number of its models with the N badging. Jaguar Land Rover will also introduce new performance options both conventionally and battery-powered versions. The new-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee will again offer the speedy options.

What is sure, customers will have a hard decision to make when picking what high-speed model to buy in the coming years.   

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