It seems the most natural combination. Take a car that can traverse rock, sand and road, and throw in as much luxury and refinement as you can muster. The result? A sure-fire hit in regions such as this, where the SUV is king.
The sector was effectively invented by the original Range Rover in 1970, which brought silky-smooth refinement and lusty V8 power to a chassis that could basically go anywhere. Since then, manufacturing an SUV has become an essential business model for nearly all carmakers, and with news that even Rolls-Royce has one up its sleeve, they appear here to stay. Here are some of the finest options for sale right now (or coming soon).
One publication has described the Bentayga’s exterior design as “a crime scene”, which is a bit harsh, but there’s no escaping the controversy stirred up by this new Bentley’s appearance.
Whatever your opinion on the outside, however, there’s nothing to dislike once you’re inside. It’s an oasis of beautiful, handcrafted opulence that sets the model apart from all others.
It’s also an extremely capable off-roader, having been developed for many months in the UAE’s harshest desert environs – not that many of the 5,000 or so owners predicted to buy one this year will probably use them for such activities. This is perhaps the ultimate status symbol on four wheels right now.
Jaguar’s first attempt at a crossover SUV has so far been a success. Boldly styled and luxuriantly appointed (as a Jag should be), it ticks all the right boxes. Four trim levels are available: S, Prestige, Portfolio and R-Sport – each with its own distinct merits.
It’s a fine performer on road, with plenty of punch from its supercharged V6 engine (which also sees active duty in the F-Type), and the sounds it makes are suitably hooligan-like. Steering is quick and the car feels extremely agile, according to those who have driven it, with very little body roll during fast cornering, despite its ride height.
All Jaguars ride well, with supreme comfort levels, and the F-Pace is no exception, but perhaps sensibly, the real off-roading prowess has been left to the Land Rovers and Range Rovers of this world.
It’s largely made from aluminium, so it’s light, and in normal driving activities, power is predominantly sent to the rear wheels, only being diverted to the front when situations demand extra grip. Being based on the architecture of the all-wheel drive F-Type means it’s a brilliant performer, but it’s the styling that will sway most people. For understated class, few vehicles can match a Jag.
When Bentley announced its intention to build what would become the Bentayga, the Range Rover suddenly became a lot more luxurious – and more expensive. The interior appointments of its range-topping SVAutobiography model are the definition of indulgent luxury (deep-pile mohair carpets with leather edging, anyone?). Few cabins can claim to be quite so stylish or contemporary.
If you want to go a few steps further, investigate Overfinch, a British tuning company that has been making Range Rovers faster and more luxurious since 1975. There’s not much that can (or indeed should) be done to make modern Range Rovers quicker these days, so Overfinch now focuses its efforts on making them more luxurious and bespoke.
Only 100 are made each year, and the company says “the only limit on personalisation is your imagination”. You can specify, for instance, an automatic sliding floor space, that brings your luggage forward for collection when you open the tailgate (finished in leather, naturally), or a walnut-veneered gun cabinet that house Holland & Holland shotguns. Only an Overfinch could hope to outdo the Bentayga for ultimate luxury status, and it has the added appeal of ultimate rarity.
There’s a lot of love for Maserati in the UAE – hardly surprising, because it’s one of the most evocative names in the business, capturing the imagination with a peerless combination of Italian glamour, heritage and raucous engine notes. Now, at long last, there’s an SUV in the range.
The Levante is a good-looking machine, much more attractive than photographs suggest. The earlier Kubang concept (which didn’t go down particularly well) has been honed and refined to a much more cohesive design that includes plenty of traditional Maserati styling cues, which now look well-proportioned.
It scores highly on ride comfort and refinement, too, and is a hoot to drive off-road and on, seeming to shrink around its driver and feel genuinely sporting.
For the luxury angle, how does an interior liberally trimmed in fine Italian leather and silks by Ermenegildo Zegna sound? The overall impact is one of tailored indulgence, and when you consider that it costs a third of the price of a Bentayga, it also starts to look like a bit of a bargain.
There really will be a Lambo SUV soon. Slated to start production in 2018, the Urus will feature the company’s first turbocharged V8 engine. Lamborghini seem determined to outdo the Bentayga in the performance league tables as the fastest SUV on the planet.
The exterior design is almost complete, as is the interior, and we can be confident that nothing else will look quite like it. Aggressive, ultra-modern and outrageous in some of its detailing, it will capture attention like few other cars. Its maker is hoping to sell 3,000 examples annually. To cope with the demand, a new factory facility is being built.
And before you cry that a Lambo SUV really shouldn’t exist, consider that the company has previous form. Between 1986 and 1993, it built the LM002, dubbed the “Rambo Lambo” – a four-wheel-drive SUV initially developed for military use, with V12 power straight out of the Countach.
Aston Martin DBX
At the moment, the DBX is just a concept car, but Aston Martin has committed to building it, and has started work on a new factory in South Wales to do so, to bring it to market by the end of the decade.
Not strictly an SUV, it’s more of a crossover, and Aston has made no secret of its target market: women. It’s a softer car than its traditional sports models and features an all-electric, four-wheel-drive power-train and a ride height that hints at some off-road capability.
It’s a modern take on Aston’s firmly entrenched styling, with a wide front grille, a sleek nose and two-tone buttresses at the rear in a similar fashion to the new DB11. It’s a full five-door design, too, offering practicality aplenty, and will be marketed as the entry point to Aston ownership. We don’t yet know what the interior space will be like, but few companies can hold a candle to Aston when it comes to handbuilt luxury. With the recent addition of ‘Q’, the company’s bespoke specification service, expect incredible levels of personalisation and stunning attention to detail.
Yes, even Rolls-Royce is at it. Known right now as the Cullinan (after the Cullinan diamond discovered in South Africa in 1905 that’s part of Queen Elizabeth II’s crown jewels), it’s likely to be renamed before production commences. Rolls-Royce refers to it as a “high-sided all-terrain vehicle” that’s set to become the most exclusive and luxurious off-roader in the world.
Currently undergoing a development programme in extreme climactic conditions, it’s disguised under modified Phantom body panels, meaning nobody outside the company knows what it will look like. But the power of the brand should mean even if it ends up resembling a brick on wheels, it will be an enormous, leather-and-wood-lined success.
Source: art & life