Defining the top ten 4x4s is harder than splitting an atom.
Defining the top ten 4x4s is harder than splitting an atom. What is “best”, after all, varies according to the criteria. As such, motorists who prioritise off-road capability fall for very different vehicles than those who favour low carbon emissions. Luckily, we have a plan to sidestep this scientific conundrum. We simply award ten category wins. These are: Cheerfully Cheap, Engagingly Expensive, Mighty Mud Plunger, Awesome On-Road, Fantastically Fashionable, Excellent Equipment, Brilliantly Beautiful, Fabulously Fast, Effortlessly Environmental, and Cavernous Cargo. Hardly E=MC2 … but it is close enough.The Dacia Duster Access 1.6 4x4 has won the Cheerfully Cheap category as it only costs £10,995. It also produces 105bhp, hits 62mph in a fair 12.8 seconds, and has a 1,570-litre boot once its rear seats are folded flat. That is similar to a Ford Focus Estate so there is plenty of room for scientific equipment. In contrast, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class 63 AMG costs £123,115 so it has taken the Engagingly Expensive title. Power comes from a 5.4-litre 544bhp V8 that propels scientists to 62mph in 5.4 seconds. This complements the striking styling, fashionable badge, and the smooth seven-speed automatic transmission. The Land Rover Discovery 3.0 SDV6 HSE is next under the microscope. This has claimed the Mighty Mud Plunger title thanks to its Terrain Response System. This changes – among other things - the ride height and the throttle/transmission response to suit terrain such as snow, mud, and boulders. Its capabilities therefore eclipse Einstein's. This 4x4 has also claimed the Awesome On-Road title as it is supremely refined. As such it corners with confidence, has a fantastic ride, and feels more cosseting than a loveable science teacher. The Land Rover Defender 90 Station Wagon has won the Fantastically Fashionable title. Why? Because it is a traditional, unpretentious, workhorse that looks pleasingly similar to its classic predecessors. So - like an effortlessly beautiful woman - it does not have to try to create an impression. And so what if it arguably lacks grace on the road? Far more scientific, however, is the Mercedes-Benz ML 350 BlueTEC Sport. This has taken the Excellent Equipment category due to its optional Night View System. This – courtesy of infrared beams in the headlights and a forward-facing camera - sends an illuminated image of the road to a screen. This emphasises hazards such as pets and crazy scientists. Now, step away from that experiment for a moment and consider this. The Audi Q7 4.2 TDI Quattro S Line Plus has won the Brilliantly Beautiful category. Whereas styling is more subjective than scientific, this 4x4 must surely be praised for its elegant lines. It also looks muscular, modern, and pleasingly subtle for the class. The word “subtle”, however, cannot be applied to the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S. This predator has claimed the Fabulously Fast category as it hits 62mph in 4.5 seconds and is capable of a mighty 175mph. Its 4.8-litre 550bhp V8 engine is clearly even more impressive than The Theory of Relativity. Next into the bunsen burner is the BMW X1 xDrive 18d SE Auto. This wins the Effortlessly Environmental title as it averages 52.3mpg and its emissions are only 143g/km. That is impressive for a four-wheel-drive that hits 62mph in a fair 10.1 seconds. The Cavernous Cargo winner is the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class 350 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY. As such its volume with the rear and middle seats flat is a mighty 2,300-litres. That eclipses virtually every estate on the market. And even with seven scientists aboard cargo capacity is 300-litres which is comparable to a small family hatchback. To make it a nice round 10 how about the All New Kia Sorento as Best Newcomer, given that the Discovery won 2 categories. The New Sorento comes with 7 seats, a huge boot when in 5 seat mode and combined economy up to 49.9mpg. The Sorento ticks the boxes for the family car, economy, space, and a price starting from £24.495. So, fancy splitting that atom?