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Rolls-Royce SUV ‘won’t be a monster truck’

And BMW design chief explains RR’s new 4x4 will be a daily driver

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“It was somewhat daunting to do an SUV for that brand,” explains BMW design boss Adrian van Hooydonk, speaking to TG at last weekend’s Villa D’Este concours show.

“But it will be a truly special car. You can be assured that it will not be a monster truck, don’t worry” he adds with a smile.

Good news, then, for anybody fretting over the direction RR’s upcoming new SUV, codenamed Project Cullinan (previewed by that raised Phantom prototype above) might take. We’re assured that the design has been approved, and that, should you be in this price bracket, it’s a Rolls you might use every day.

“There are a lot of stories to tell about Rolls-Royce,” van Hooydonk explains to TG. “When the brand started, typically the cars had a lot of ground clearance and huge wheels, and were used by Maharajas and other people to drive from Europe to the Far East.

“That was a time when the automotive world had not even figured out these different segments or categories – they were just cars. And there weren’t many good roads either,” he adds. “When we dug into the history of Rolls-Royce, we struck upon these kinds of cars and thought, there might be a way.”

We’re not going to see some modern-day interpretation of an old ‘Maharaja’ car, van Hooydonk explains, “but the very idea that Rolls-Royces were used as daily drivers across rough roads” was the key.

You’ll already know that the new RR SUV – scheduled for some point in 2018 – will sit on an all-new aluminium space frame structure, one currently undergoing on-road testing to ensure RR’s “magic-carpet ride” will deliver on a variety of surfaces.

“Even here [at Villa], Rolls-Royces are perfectly polished, on pedestals, and it’s almost like you’re not allowed to touch them,” he said. “But that would be wrong.

“If Rolls-Royce becomes a brand where people think it’s only to look at and not to drive, there could be serious problems. A Rolls-Royce, especially the SUV, should be a car that’s fun to drive.

“We believe for the brand, it would be very good to have a car where people immediately understand that yes, I can drive this car every day, it’s not a problem. The SUV will be such a car,” he said.

So, an all-terrain SUV that’s fun to drive every day, and won’t look like a monster truck, with a likely V12 engine and RR’s ‘magic carpet ride’. Hands up who wants a go?

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