Prestigious multi-purpose vehicles are more versatile than a Swiss Army Knife. Harder to fit in your pocket, though. It is therefore worth considering which metal marvels are the best of the best. But first things first. Strictly speaking, the term “multi-purpose” refers to a class of vehicle that includes the Ford S-MAX. But we are using the phrase to include machines that excel in numerous areas. The Land Rover Discovery 4 3.0 SDV6 HSE, for starters, can plough through extreme terrain and has space for seven people, a vast maximum cargo capacity of 2,558-litres, and toys such as its hill decent control function. This prevents the vehicle picking-up too much speed while negotiating steep slopes. The Discovery therefore suits mud-plungers, families, and load-luggers - hence multi-purpose. All from only £52,450.
Right, the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class 500. If this 4x4 was a Swiss Army Knife it would have go-faster stripes. Why? Because its 5.4-litre 387PS petrol engine propels it to 62mph in only 6.5 seconds. Suits speed lovers, then. It also has seven seats, a huge 2,300-litre maximum cargo capacity, and a sky-high image. All from £73,155. Too expensive? Try the Toyota Land Cruiser. This – like the Discovery - excels off-road. Combined with rock-solid reliability that makes it popular with the United Nations in war zones. The seven-seated LC4 3.0 D-4D 5dr trim is also fairly affordable at £46,505. This averages a pleasing 34.9mpg, hits 62mph in 11.7 seconds, and has a reversing camera. Ever seen that on an army knife?
The BMW X5 XDrive 30d M Sport is versatile too – even compared to the Swiss Army Knife Super-Duper Deluxe. As such, this 3.0-litre 245bhp 4x4 hits 62mph in only 7.6 seconds yet averages a pleasing 38.2mpg. This rises to 42.2mpg on the extra-urban cycle, and only falls to 32.5mpg in town. Suits speed lovers and fuel savers, then. Maximum cargo capacity – at 1,750-litres – is impressive too as this is comparable to large estates. All from £49,495. What a pity it only has five seats. The Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90 have no such limitations. These 4x4s may not provide the ultimate off-road experience but they are supremely refined on tarmac. Both have large boots too, high equipment specifications, and reassuring build quality. All from £42,615 and £35,695 respectively. You could pay more for a pen knife.
By Stephen Turvil
Wed, 31 Oct 2012