The second half of our top 10 is where the handling element sorts the class leaders from the also-rans.
The updated Mercedes GLC, with its well-appointed and luxurious-feeling interior, deserves its place in the top 10, but its numb steering means it’s far from the first choice for keen drivers. It’s more car-like to drive than many of the full-blown SUVs on this list, but it also rides less serenely than a Mercedes-Benz should on standard steel coil suspension, making it harder to recommend in base spec.
On optional air suspension, though, it’s among the most laid-back, effectively comfort-oriented cars in the class, and it can be had in mechanical flavours as different as the GLC 300e petrol-electric PHEV, the GLC 300de diesel-electric PHEV and the GLC 63 V8 hot-rod SUV. Worth considering.
Alfa Romeo took the platform and engines that made the Giulia, added some ride height, a raised hip point and four-wheel-drive technology, and created a fine-handling SUV in the shape of the Stelvio.
Remarkable handling and typical Alfa Romeo film-star looks come as standard, with a strong if gruff diesel engine to boot. Unfortunately, Alfa’s focus on decent handling has resulted in a slightly restless ride on poorer UK roads, and some of the cabin materials feel plain and cheap – just as they do on the Giulia.