These three upmarket compact SUVs are like snazzy footwear, but only one of them is as functional as it is fashionable
Designer Trainers

SUVs (sports utility vehicles) and their crossover equivalents have become the transportation of choice for trendy suburbanites, who love these cars’ practicality and outgoing personality. Our three featured crossovers, however, aren’t your run-of-the-mill Converse sneakers – they’re more like trendy Adidas trainers.

Promising both looks and "wearability" in equal measure is the Range Rover Evoque. The Straits Times 2011 Car of the Year has a futuristic, surprisingly compact design carried over almost unchanged from the LRX concept. The vehicle is also claimed to have the ability to conquer both the urban and the rural jungle.

Built only for the concrete forest, on the other hand, is the Volvo XC60, which is the largest car in our group and also the only one with front-wheel drive instead of 4WD. Specified with the sportier R-Design look, this Swedish number aims to attractfamilies with its rugged outlook and reputation for safety.

Also keen to prove itself in this shootout is the second-generation BMW X3. Looking sharper than the previous model, the X3 is also geared to impress drivers with its high tech goodies and sublime handling.

All three competitors are evenly matched in terms of their powertrains (turbocharged 2-litre engines) and output (around 240bhp). But which one best marries function and fashion to outshine the rest? Read on to find out.

The Range Rover Evoque’s off-roading prowess and cool design are undoubtedly compelling, but its comparatively smaller dimensions mean compromised overall useability - a trait that matters to buyers of these vehicles.

On paper, the BMW X3 has what it takes to snatch outright victory. It’s the most driver-friendly, thanks to its punchy performance and great handling, while its interior spaciousness easily matches that of the Volvo XC60. But with the winning criteria in this case hinging on being fashionable as well as functional, the more utilitarian looking X3 has to yield to the stylish XC60.

The XC60 may not boast the go-everywhere surefootedness of the Evoque or the potency of the X3’s powertrain, but it more than makes up for these shortcomings with its great build quality, refi ned character and advanced safety features. It is the designer trainer that will surely attract suburbanites seeking "footwear" that is as fashionable as it is functional.