If you’ve paid any attention to the automotive world in recent years, you will have heard of plans from the world’s most renowned luxury car makers to enter the SUV game.
Vehicles such as the Bentley Bentayga, the as-yet unnamed Rolls-Royce SUV, and the production version of the Lamborghini Urus all spring to mind – but British luxury SUV specialist Land Rover insists it isn’t concerned about the apparent oncoming onslaught of competitors.
Land Rover design director and chief creative officer, Gerry McGovern, told CarAdvice at the 2015 New York auto show that the brand has the history of making capable and luxurious vehicles that new brands can’t match.
Case in point, according to McGovern, is the Range Rover SVAutobiography revealed at the show. It could be the most expensive SUV ever sold in Australia when it arrives in the fourth quarter of this year – possibly pushing the $400,000 mark.
“We’re not saying it’s the most luxurious SUV in the world,” McGovern began. “What we’re saying is it’s the most luxurious Range Rover SUV we’ve ever built so far.
“I think it’s the most peerless SUV in the world, I don’t think there’s anything else like a Range Rover,” he asserted.
When asked if he’s concerned about the new breed of uber-luxurious SUVs that are due in the next few years, McGovern barely batted an eyelid.
“Some people might see them as rivals, but I go back to this thing called authenticity,” he said. “I said it last night – the word ‘icon’ or ‘iconic’ is used liberally, or generously, but you don’t just arrive at that status. And this is the real deal.
“I think it’s great that these other brands are doing this stuff, because it will keep our focus razor-like. But at the same time, they’ve got to prove themselves,” he said.
“We’ve got no doubt they can build very high-quality luxurious vehicles,” he said, but he suggested there’s more to luxury off-roaders than just luxury.
“Have they got the design equity? I haven’t seen a good design yet, to be honest, in my view,” he said.
“Are they going to have that supremacy of technology in terms of off-road capability. I haven’t seen that yet either. The rest is image,” he said.
“In this part of the market, you have to have authenticity.”
McGovern insisted that making a high-end luxury SUV is more than just ticking the boxes. He suggested that it’s about what the brand means, and how it can push the envelope yet stay true to the heritage of the marque.
“Your inspiration should come from within the brand,” he said. “We have this heritage which has evolved over 65 years and that’s a hell of a philosophy of DNA to feed off. There’s a massive menu there – it’s about finding a way of cooking them up that is modern, but also relevant,” he said.
“I’m not really worried by them,” he said of the coming competitors.
“I don’t like to sound arrogant – we need to be cognisant of them, but I’m not going to give them any publicity by talking about them,” he said.