We’ve driven the Bentley Bentayga. We’ve seen the Lamborghini Urus. Rolls-Royce has confirmed it’s building a ‘high-sided vehicle’ because clearly mere ‘sports utility vehicles’ are for commoners. And Aston Martin’s Lagonda offshoot will attack the mighty Range Rover with its own statesmanlike super-tank within the decade. You reckon poxy crossovers are big business? Take a look at the 4x4 stratosphere. It’s locked in a chain-reaction of one-upmanship, and TG thinks it can pinpoint the spark. The moment the SUV broke free of the luxury bounds of what Land Rover or Porsche were prepared to do with it, and enter proper exotica territory. Enter the best thing to come out of the Netherlands since Grolsch: the reborn Spyker Cars.
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TG’s guide to concepts: the Spyker D12 Peking-to-Paris
Can Spyker lay claim to kickstarting the super-luxo-SUV trend?
You’ll remember the C8 Spyker. Glassy cockpit, aerospace air intakes, a big fishy grille up front and the most intricate, art-deco interior this side of Horacio Pagani’s ensuite. In 2006, Spyker decided to experiment with combining those elements and a new ingredient: ride height. The result was the D12 Peking-to-Paris. Interesting-looking, isn’t it?
Other ‘elements’ into the mix included suicide rear doors, an exposed gear linkage, and a W12-bi-turbo VW engine destined to deliver some 500bhp. A W12-powered SUV, eh? Bentley must’ve liked the sound of that.
Despite weighing over 1,850kg, the Peking-to-Paris (so called in tribute to a 1907 endurance race from what is now modern-day Beijing, China to Paris, France) claimed a 0-60mph time of 5.0 seconds. At its Geneva motor show debut in 2006 – back when the idea of Lamborghini or Bentley building a tall, fast 4x4 would’ve seemed as wild as that bloke off TV’s The Apprentice becoming U.S Command-in-Chief, Spyker reportedly chalked up over 100 orders for its ultimate SUV. In fairness, even if you’re not keen on the looks, that cabin is stunning. We wouldn’t mind trekking halfway around the world in that. Mmm, quilting.
Then came the problem of actually building it. Spyker in the meantime has bought the ailing Saab, and it was mooted that Saab’s experience with less exotic cars could help Spyker get its super-truck literally off the ground. There was also talk of reducing the engine from a W12 to a simpler, lighter V8, to cut costs and continue Spyker’s engine deal with Audi. However, by 2010 the trail had gone largely cold, and Spyker has latterly battled bankruptcy, recovered, and turned its attention purely to sports cars since. The Peking-to-Paris has become, ironically, one of the only super-SUVs not to see the light of day.
However, its demise alows us to indulge in a spot of Top Gear ‘what if’ daydreaming. Could the D12 (or D8, as it would’ve been) launched Spyker to be a volume carmaker, supporting it as the Cayenne did Porsche? The history of ultimate SUVs may well have been very different, with the Dutch leading the way. Or it could’ve killed the trend stone dead. Up to you if you think that’d have been a good thing…