Rolls-Royce has no plans to produce an ultra-luxury SUV in the short term but concedes a “never say never” attitude when quizzed about the potential for such a model.
Rolls-Royce Asia Pacific regional director Paul Harris told CarAdvice there had been no discussion within the bespoke British brand about building an SUV, but admitted the brand had completely not closed the door on the idea.
“The Rolls-Royce philosophy is very clear, and that is that we will never say never to anything,” Harris said.
“As it stands at the moment it’s not in discussion. We’ve just brought Wraith (below) to market, that’s probably our model offering in the new market for at least the next two and a half years.
“There’s nothing on the drawing board at all as it stands now, but the never say never scenario still stands.”
Rolls-Royce South and East Asia Pacific general manager Dan Balmer said the two roadblocks in the way of a Rolls-Royce SUV were design and ride quality.
“Design and Rolls-Royce are very closely linked,” Balmer said. “We’re very close to what we do with our cars and there are certain rules we stick to all the time.
“Does an SUV break that? Maybe it does.
“Our number one concern before design, though, is ride quality. The car has to have an excellent ride quality, best in class.
“SUVs aren’t known for their ride quality. 4×4 drivetrains and systems are not the best-riding you can get.”
Balmer said Rolls’ complex development and production process meant that even if work started on an SUV today, the car would not launch until close to the end of the decade.
“When you’re building handcrafted cars you’re not telling robots to do something and it’s a five minute job and that’s it. You have to train people and that takes some time.
“It’s a four- to five-year process, so if this SUV is happening then it would be happening now for the next few years. It’s not, so it’s a way yet – if we’re going to do it at all.”
While the pioneering Range Rover and Porsche Cayenne luxo-SUVs are soon to be joined by the Maserati Levante and the production version of the Bentley EXP 9F concept, Harris said Rolls-Royce had no plans to simply jump on the bandwagon and follow other manufacturers.
“We’re a bit more unique and individual, and a very, very considered brand,” he said.
“Everything we consider always harks back to our heritage, what people expect, etc. Those sorts of decisions aren’t easy decisions to make.”