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Where are the affordable performance SUVs? 2022 Volkswagen T-Roc and Tiguan R, Cupra Formentor coming soon to take on Hyundai Kona N

The Volkswagen Touareg R plug-in hybrid mixes performance with efficiency.

From home-grown V8 sedans to Japanese sports coupes and European hot hatches, Australian buyers love performance cars.

In recent years the trend has shifted from coupes and sedans to performance-honed SUVs, which is no surprise given the general market shift to high-riding wagons.

But, in Australia at least, the vast majority of go-fast SUVs landing in showrooms have been from premium brands.

It seems every other week a European brand lobs yet another brutally powerful SUV with a six-figure pricetag.

Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz specifically offer full-fat performance SUVs in a variety of sizes and body styles.

There’s small SUVs like the Audi SQ2, RS Q3 and Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 S, medium offerings like the BMW X3 and X4 M, Audi SQ5 and Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S, large SUVs including the Audi SQ7, BMW X5 and X6 M and even upper-large models like the Audi RS Q8 and Mercedes-AMG GLS 63, just to name a few.

And that’s not to mention the various sports SUV offerings from Porsche, Alfa Romeo, Jaguar and Land Rover.

The Hyundai Kona N is on its own in the small performance SUV category - for now. The Hyundai Kona N is on its own in the small performance SUV category - for now.

So this begs the question – where are the accessible sporty SUVs from mainstream brands?

There are very few performance SUVs currently on offer from mainstream brands. In fact, the only dedicated model that’s available in dealerships right now is the freshly launched Hyundai Kona N.

On sale now from $47,500 before on-road costs, the Kona N uses a 206kW/392Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder engine, but that increases to 213kW when the eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is in ‘N Grin Shift’ mode. You can grin your way from 0-100km/h in just 5.5 seconds.

Volkswagen Group to the rescue

However, Volkswagen has a bunch of R-badged performance models on the horizon covering the key SUV segments.

The smallest of the lot, the T-Roc R, is coming in 2022 in facelifted guise to take on the Kona N.

It’s powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine delivering 221kW/400Nm, driving all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. It completes the 0-100km/h sprint in 4.9 seconds.

The Tiguan R will add some spice to the medium SUV segment in 2022. The Tiguan R will add some spice to the medium SUV segment in 2022.

For family friendly motoring with a seriously spicy twist, VW is also lobbing the mid-size Tiguan R in early 2022. Packing a 235kW/420Nm version of the same 2.0-litre turbocharged engine from the T-Roc R, the Tiguan R will be the most powerful SUV in its segment. Pricing has just been announced and it will cost $69,990 before on-road costs.

It might not be super affordable, but we have to include the beefy Touareg R because Volkswagen is not technically a premium brand.

VW’s first plug-in hybrid in Australia will also be a performance flagship. The five-seat large SUV pairs a 250kW/450Nm 3.0-litre turbo-petrol V6 engine with a 100kW/400Nm electric motor for combined outputs of 340kW/700Nm.

Pricing is yet to be confirmed, but given the current range-topping Touareg 210TDI Wolfsburg Edition costs close to $120,000, it’s a fair bet you won’t get much change from $130,000.

Another VW Group brand, Skoda, is launching the updated version of its Kodiaq RS performance SUV. More warmed up than hotted up, the RS forgoes the turbo-diesel of the outgoing model in favour of a 180kW/370Nm turbo-petrol powertrain lifted from the Octavia RS. The 0-100km/h dash is completed in 6.6 seconds – 0.4 seconds quicker than the diesel.

Cupra will launch two SUVs in 2022, including warmed-up versions of the Formentor (above) and Ateca. Cupra will launch two SUVs in 2022, including warmed-up versions of the Formentor (above) and Ateca.

If that wasn’t enough from the European giant, VW Group is launching the Cupra performance brand – a sub-brand of the Spanish Seat marque – in 2022.

In fact, Cupra will offer two performance SUVs in the shape of the 221kW Ateca and the 228kW Formentor, both with all-wheel drive as standard. The Formentor will also be available as a less potent plug-in hybrid.

Ok so this is a weird one, but how about the Peugeot 3008 mid-size SUV as a performance car? Hear me out. The new GT Sport plug-in hybrid variant, arriving in early 2022 alongside the PHEV version of the sleek 508 liftback, is more potent than you’d think.

It uses a 147kW petrol engine, paired with two electric motors – 81kW at the front axle and 83kW for the rear – making for a combined output of 222kW. That’s only slightly less than the Tiguan R.

The all-paw Pug can drive for 60km on electric power only and will cover 0-100km/h in a brisk 5.9 seconds. Peugeot has priced the eco SUV from $79,990 before on-roads.

Hot SUVs we want in Australia

Nissan could have two performance-focused versions of the hulking Patrol off-roader in the not-too-distant future.

Nissan is working with Melbourne engineering firm Premcar on a more extreme version of the Patrol that will carry the Warrior moniker, much like the rugged version of the Navara that recently went on sale.

It will have accessories and mechanical tweaks to make it even more capable off road than the regular Patrol.

Nissan could have two tweaked versions of the Patrol soon, including the Patrol Nismo. Nissan could have two tweaked versions of the Patrol soon, including the Patrol Nismo.

But the other possibility is the Patrol Nismo. It was a long shot, but given the insatiable appetite for big off-roaders like the Patrol and the Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series, it could be on the cards for Aussie buyers.

The Nismo version uses the Patrol’s 5.6-litre V8 but ups the power by 22kW to 320kW and 560Nm of torque. It also features a Nismo bodykit, huge wheels and Bilstein shock absorbers.

Another capable-yet-powerful off-roader is the Jeep Wrangler V8, but don’t hold your breath for this one. Despite the company’s local arm pushing for it, Jeep is prioritising left-hand drive markets.

The Wrangler Rubicon 392 packs a brutal 351kW/637Nm 6.4-litre Hemi V8 driving all four wheels via an eight-speed auto, propelling it from 0-100km/h in 4.5 seconds.

Finally, we all wish Ford would add the Puma ST small performance SUV to its line-up, but it’s a no because it’s only offered with a manual gearbox and Ford thinks local buyers want an auto.

It uses the same 1.5-litre turbocharged powertrain from the Fiesta ST outputting 147kW and would be a terrific addition to the hot SUV segment and a great rival for the Kona N.