So which are the most luxurious, tough and tech advanced sport utility vehicles (SUVs) that will have drivers not just travelling in style, but also enable them to easily climb the curb whilst parking near Loftus? Here our top 5 choices.
Lexus RX 350 XE
With a retail price of R694 000 (including carbon dioxide tax and VAT), Lexus' RX 350 XE certainly isn't cheap, but luckily this all-wheel drive SUV is filled to the hilt with technology.
A lengthy list of safety features includes large thorax abdomen-pelvis (TAP) side airbags for driver and front passenger, a premium sound system and satellite controls on the steering wheel. The RX 350 XE's 3.5 litre V6 delivers 204 kW at 6200 RPM as well as 346 Nm at 4700 RPM, and manages to propel the two and a half ton SUV from 0-100 km/h in eight seconds flat, onto a top speed of 200 km/h.
Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.6l Overland
Catch a glimpse in your rear-view mirror of the seven-slot grille on the aggressively styled 2012 Grand Cherokee, and you'll quickly vacate the right hand lane of the highway.
This car's Pentastar 3.6L V6 petrol engine generating 210 kW of power and 347 Nm of torque, will ensure that its sporty design bite is backed up by powerful performance bite. The Grand Cherokee boasts some useful off-roading tech including hill descent control, which helps drivers navigate up challenging terrain without requiring constant braking.
You can get into the luxury cabin of this SUV for around R583 000.
VW Touareg V6 TDI Terrain Tech
Matching the Jeep in terms of off-roading prowess is VW's Touareg, which sports a terrain tech package with 4XMotion (four-wheel drive), hill descent control and centre- and rear differential lock.
This SUV's three litre V6 engine churns out 180 kW at 4000 RPM and a very handy 550 Nm of torque between a low 2000 and 2250 RPM. However, this power doesn't translate to the SUV being a fuel hog, since BlueMotion technologies, including stop-start with energy recuperation, mean that fuel economy is boosted to a claimed 7.3 litres per 100 km.
At almost R675 000 though, your corporate ladder climbing skills should match this SUV's hill climbing ability.
Range Rover Evoque
With a price starting at R582 000, the Evoque is actually the most affordable car in our list of desirable SUVs. Jeremy Clarkson's Car of the Year for 2011, is powered by a humble 2.2 litre TD4 diesel powerplant that generates 140 kW of power and 420 Nm of torque.
This is enough to propel this Range Rover from 0-100 km/h in just 8.5 seconds onto a terminal velocity of 195 km/h. All this, whilst keeping fuel usage manageable at a combined fuel usage figure of only 6.5 litres per 100 km.
Geeks will appreciate this SUV's central 8" touchscreen and 5" colour information display, with the latter providing key information such as navigation instructions and hill descent status, whilst the former is for controlling the infotainment system.
BMW X5 M50d
BMW are renowned for their luxury saloons and M-sporting performance cars, and at the beginning of this year they also introduced its diesel-powered M Performance range.
The X5 M50d is one of these, powered by a three litre six-cylinder common-rail diesel engine that sports three turbochargers, pushing out 280 kW between 4000 and 4400 RPM and a whopping 740 Nm between 2000 and 3000 RPM. The X5 M50d rockets from standstill to 100 km/h in just 5.4 seconds, almost as quick as the petrol-powered X5 M's 4.7 seconds.
Unlike its petrol guzzling stablemate (almost 14 litres per 100 km), the X5 M50d won't require you to invest a large percentage of your salary into a fuel station, since BMW claims a combined fuel cycle of under eight litres per 100 km.
The X5 M50d goes on sale in Germany this month for €82 300 (about R868 000). Of course buyers can up the price by adding some optional equipment like the fighter pilot-inspired head-up display, or real time traffic and weather updates. No local release info is available yet.
Article first appeared in TechSmart 105, June 2012.