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Move over, Rover

Competition revs up in the luxury SUV class

Bentley Bentayga

Super-luxury SUVs are a mainstay of coastal OC motoring. With its blend of off-road prowess and über-posh amenities, the Land Rover Range Rover has been a perennial favorite. Those stakes recently went up with the introduction of the $200,000 Range Rover SVAutobiography. Crafted by the brand’s covert-sounding Special Vehicle Operations division, the new range-topping Rover features a gaggle of goodies, from a two-tone exterior paint scheme to perforated semi-aniline leather interior and solid aluminum switchgear. A 550 horse power supercharged V8 makes the most pricey and luxurious Range Rover also the most powerful.
But the Range Rover SVAutobiography’s time high atop Mount Super-Luxe SUV may be short-lived. A coming wave of super-luxury SUVs and crossovers appears poised to challenge the likes of Range Rover and other faves, like the potent Porsche Cayenne. Some, like Bentley’s Bentayga, are a sure thing; others are still concepts and test cars. Regardless, the message seems clear: Super-luxury and performance SUVs are coming … and fast.

Aston Martin DBX
Boutique British sportscar maker Aston Martin has announced a two-pronged approach to boosting its global sales and profits. One piece is to create more limited-edition vehicles, like the audacious $2.3 million, track-only Vulcan supercar. The other piece, of interest to mere mortals, includes a more utilitarian five-door crossover. Fans of the brand that Bond built will have to wait at least four years for the company’s sleek people hauler. However, the recently revealed two-door, four-seat DBX concept hints at the elevated sports car styling likely to grace any future Aston SUV. Here’s hoping what’s beneath the DBX’s sultry skin is also an indication of things to come, as the concept features all-wheel drive and an eco-chic, all-electric powerplant.

Rolls-Royce Cullinan Project
Attempts at intrigue and innuendo have seemingly done little to shroud Rolls-Royce’s plans for an over-the-top SUV. Of course, the only one not calling the company’s recently unveiled Project Cullinan test car the precursor to an SUV is Rolls-Royce itself; the stately British brand prefers descriptors like “high-sided, all-terrain motor car.” The expressed intent of the Project Cullinan is to test an all-new, all-wheel-drive suspension system capable of delivering Rolls-Royce’s signature cushy ride both on- and off-road. Rolls is quick to point out that the Project Cullinan does not feature any design aspects of a forthcoming SUV-like creation. So for now the look of a future Rolls-Royce SUV does remain a mystery.

Bentley Bentayga
The Bentayga – named for a picturesque peak in the Canary Islands – looks to be the first entrant to the growing super-luxury SUV stable when it hits dealerships early next year. Bentley teased its plans back in 2012 when it unveiled the bold EXP 9 F concept, looking like an extruded version of the brand’s flagship Mulsanne sedan. Though details remain scarce, the production Bentayga will reportedly deviate from the show car’s somewhat polarizing looks. Unlikely to change, however, are Bentley’s ambitious plans to create the world’s fastest and most luxurious SUV. With a W12-powered Bentayga aiming for a top speed of 200 mph and a base price just north of $200,000, Bentley appears primed to hit both targets.


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