OFF-ROAD'S ON TOP
29th October 2018
Where there’s muck there’s brass, the saying goes, so it’s no surprise luxury car makers are focusing more than ever on SUVs, reports Chris Chilton.
SUVs are big and big business. High-rise family cars now account for one third of all cars sold in Europe and even luxury marques like Aston Martin and Rolls-Royce that once worried what damage building an SUV might have on their carefully nurtured brand image are now investing heavily in off-road-style cars. They can’t afford not to have one in their showrooms.
Maserati is a perfect case in point. The mystique of this storied Italian marque is bound up in the romance of early F1 racing and slinky grand tourers, which is about as far from SUVs as it’s possible to get. But having watched Porsche make a similar leap into the SUV market entirely successfully, it launched its own Cayenne rival, the Levante. Initially only available in Britain with a diesel engine and later, a petrol V6, this year Maserati hopes to add a pair of Ferrari-built V8s in the form of the 590hp Trofeo and only slightly less unhinged 550hp GTS. Prices haven’t been confirmed but don’t expect much change from £100k.
Thirty minutes to the west of Maserati’s Modena home, Lamborghini is building its own SUV, the 190mph Urus. Cleverly managing to retain much of the look of a Lamborghini supercar despite being almost 500mm taller, the £164,950 Urus is significantly lighter than its VW Group sister SUVs, including the Bentley Bentayga, that use versions of its chassis architecture and 650hp 4.0-litre twin turbo V8.
Meanwhile the real Bentayga has been busy deflecting attention from the launch of archrival Rolls-Royce’s Cullinan SUV (see p126) in two ways. First, with the launch of a plug-in hybrid version that should cost around £140,0000 and can travel up to 30 miles on electric power, and second, by leveraging Bentley’s sporting reputation to set an SUV record at the legendary Pikes Peak hill climb in Colorado.
The barely modified Bentayga W12 took 10m 49.9sec to climb the 12.42 miles, besting the previous champ, a Range Rover Sport, by almost two minutes – a timely reminder to Land Rover that just because you invented the whole luxury SUV segment, you can’t afford to rest on your laurels.
Lamborghini is building its own SUV, the 190mph Urus. Cleverly managing to retain much of the look of a Lamborghini supercar despite being almost 500mm taller
Fortunately, the stylish new Range Rover Velar proves that Land Rover isn’t one to sit idle. Ushering in a new, sleeker design language for the brand and offering a huge range of engines from a 2.0-litre diesel to a 575hp 5.0 supercharged V8 the Velar costs from £44,000 and slots into the gap between the Evoque and Range Rover Sport.
Range Rover Velar
Find more motoring news at www.rox.co.uk/magazine