Design work is under way on Rolls-Royce's first ever SUV, which is likely to cost more than £200,000 when it goes on sale

Rolls-Royce is progressing its project to build a super-luxury SUV, according to design boss Giles Taylor. He told Autocar that his design team was still “sketching to assess the viability of the concept. We are not yet grappling with three dimensions and proportions.”

Taylor said he didn’t accept that the SUV project would “undermine the Rolls-Royce brand”. He added: “I’m interested in function and functionality. I’m looking to create a properly functional vehicle – a shooting brake, not a crossover with a sloping roof. A proper SUV.”

Other Rolls-Royce sources described the project as “a kind of Mercedes GLK-plus-plus” and said it would be priced at £200k and above. Autocar understands that the model would most likely be a member of a future Ghost family rather than a Phantom spin-off. 

The Rolls-Royce off-roader is unlikely to appear much before late 2017, but that does mean that it won’t be far behind the new Bentley SUV in arriving on the market.

Taylor also talked about the way that the interior of this and other new-generation Rolls models might evolve. “In the future, the key words will be ‘cool’ and ‘modern’," he said. "It will retain aspects of the current interior but will remain luxurious and a sanctuary. We are not talking about ostentation.”

Taylor also pointed out that since the relaunch of the brand in 2003, Rolls-Royce’s customer base has started to shift, with China becoming an ever more important market for the British car maker. 

“Many customers are now Chinese entrepreneurs – savvy and self-made with a young spirit,” he said. “They might be as young as 30 years old and are very interested in authenticity, Chinese heritage and prestige.”

All car makers now predict a rapid take-up of SUVs in the Chinese market following a muted reception over the past few years. This has the potential to make the proposed Rolls SUV even more relevant to the expansion of the BMW-owned brand.

There had been speculation that the new SUV would be based on the same platform as the upcoming seven-seat BMW X7. However, it is understood that BMW is preparing a much more sophisticated steel, aluminium and carbonfibre-reinforced plastic architecture for the future Ghost and a possible 9-series family.

The new architecture was previewed at the recent Beijing motor show, where it underpinned the BMW Vision Future Luxury concept. Like the Phantom, this concept used rear-hinged rear doors for ease of access. Rolls-Royce has also shown its range of personalisation options with the launch of the Bluebird-inspired Phantom Drophead Coupé Waterspeed Collection.

What is Rolls-Royce planning in the next four years?

Between now and 2018, the Rolls-Royce line-up will be completely refreshed – with a new Ghost, new Phantom (and spin-offs) and an SUV – as the company continues its expansion plans. Here’s how its timetable of renewal looks.

Ghost facelift - 2014

Displayed at the Geneva motor show in February and due to arrive in showrooms later this year, the facelifted Ghost has a consciously more modern appearance. There’s even the choice of a Dynamic Driving Package, hinting at a more sporting mien for the model.

New Phantom - 2017

Early work is under way on a replacement for the 11-year-old super-luxury saloon and its coupé and cabriolet spin-offs, with sketches already being done at the company’s Goodwood design studio. A new BMW i-style carbonfibre and aluminium architecture is a strong possibility.

New SUV - 2017

Described as a “Mercedes GLK plus plus” by one company source, the Rolls SUV will be a proper, functional off-roader and not a sloping-roofed crossover, according to chief designer Giles Taylor. It is likely to be part of the second-generation Ghost family and first into the showroom.

New Ghost - 2018

BMW’s sophisticated part-carbonfibre structure, seen at last month’s Beijing motor show, is thought give big clues to the architecture that will underpin the next-generation Ghost family. It will replace today’s steel monocoque, which is loosely based on that used by the current 7-series. 

Our Verdict

The Rolls-Royce Phantom comes with opulence befitting its huge price tag. It is the benchmark for ride quality

Join the debate

Comments
19

12 May 2014
My god, the depths of ugliness have just been surpassed.....

13 May 2014
Relax, billybob, there is no reason to suppose it'll look anything like the illustration. Also, there is nothing inappropriate or brand-damaging about a Rolls Royce SUV; they have always been ready to adapt their chassis to all manner of purposes and their traditional clientele get muddy with dogs etc. It's only the frightful nouveaux riches who would squeal about getting the car or their Ralph Lauren clothes dirty.

13 May 2014
275not599 wrote:
Relax, billybob, there is no reason to suppose it'll look anything like the illustration. Also, there is nothing inappropriate or brand-damaging about a Rolls Royce SUV; they have always been ready to adapt their chassis to all manner of purposes and their traditional clientele get muddy with dogs etc. It's only the frightful nouveaux riches who would squeal about getting the car or their Ralph Lauren clothes dirty.
If the recent television program is to be believed then the majority of Rolls Royce customers these days are the latter sort, the people who'll buy the RR picnic set to 'complete' the car and never use it. An off-road Rolls Royce could be nice car. Either a low overall height with rally car style off-roading abilities or, more likely, something tall along the lines of the Range Rover Classic. Given current market trends and their use of that most American of classifications, SUV, the worry is that we'll end up with something similar to what all the other brands are doing. Tiny windows in proportion to it's height, hatchback rear end looks and a general aimlessness as to what it's supposed to look like.

13 May 2014
The design of the SUV looks great to me. Restrained and practical. Should sell well.

Malo Mori Quam Foedari

13 May 2014
From Guweira, north of Akaba, the cars raced over mud-flats ('their speedometers touched sixty-five') with the knowledge that 'it was nearly impossible to break a Rolls-Royce'. In the expediencies of war, the practical value of the car outweighed the camel. Alongside their speed and durability was the protection they afforded from gunfire: 'Armoured car work seemed fighting de luxe, for our troops, being steel covered, could come to no hurt'. It was only when the cars drove into the beloved old castle of Azrak that doubts surfaced over the appropriateness of mechanised beasts from the West in deepest Arabia: 'I felt guilty at introducing the throbbing car, and its trim crew of khaki-clad northerners, into the remoteness of this most hidden legendary place'. The moment is short lived. Lawrence spends far more time rejoicing at the value of the car: 'A Rolls in the desert was above rubies'... Seven Pillars of Wisdom, T. E Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia). BMW's token efforts today seem paltry alongside the achievements of great men in the past. So sad, so very, very sad.

13 May 2014
Perhaps they'll carve some wellies into the Spirit of Ecstasy too and give it a Barbour jacket and peak cap. When are great car makers (Porsche, Jaguar, Rolls) going to stop trying morph into extracurricular market segments? Focus Roller! Focus! Whatever next, a two seater Range Rover sports car?

13 May 2014
Marky wrote:
Perhaps they'll carve some wellies into the Spirit of Ecstasy too and give it a Barbour jacket and peak cap. When are great car makers (Porsche, Jaguar, Rolls) going to stop trying morph into extracurricular market segments? Focus Roller! Focus! Whatever next, a two seater Range Rover sports car?
Well,going the other way we have the Porsche Cayenne et al!

Madmac

13 May 2014
They (Porsche) should of stuck to the raw sports car model.

13 May 2014
Marky wrote:
They (Porsche) should of stuck to the raw sports car model.
Not should 'of'.


16 May 2014
Thanks for pointing that out.

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week