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Future models - Rolls-Royce - Cullinan

SUV to target younger, female Rolls buyer

Coming soon: Don't call Rolls-Royce's high-rider an SUV – it's an “everywhere vehicle” according to the brand (Project Cullinan development mule pictured).

Rolls-Royce seeking fresh faces with all-new all-terrain model

Rolls-Royce logo21 Sep 2015

By DANIEL GARDNER

ROLLS-ROYCE'S enigmatic all-terrain vehicle is being charged with the task of finding a new audience for the iconic British car-maker, with features that appeal to female and youthful customers.

A majority of the marque's existing owners are male, according to the brand, but, with the new model – codenamed Project Cullinan – Rolls-Royce is planning to adjust that balance.

Little is known about the new SUV model, but speaking at the Frankfurt motor show last week, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars sales and marketing director Fintan Knight told GoAuto its SUV credentials would inherently appeal to more younger people and women than in the past.

“It's a youthful concept so we will definitely be hitting a younger demographic, but I also think women feel more confident in such cars in a sense of security and capability, which appeals,” he said.

“One thing that really appeals to our female buyer is the bespoke part of our business and the glamour of a Rolls-Royce. They find themselves in their own personal design world very easily and enjoy that expression. I think they also enjoy the power and protection that a Rolls-Royce gives them.”

The move into off-road vehicles is a significant change for the brand, which has typically produced large luxury sedans, coupes and convertibles, but Mr Knight explained that the segment was not such a dramatic departure from its traditional fare.

“The Phantom is the best car in the world,” he said. “If you take that ideology and look at the market, you've got frontier-busting, commanding, incredibly safe, secure, peaceful, comfortable cars. The high-bodied, all-terrain structure lends itself beautifully to a Rolls-Royce.

“Rolls-Royces are commanding and we make big cars. We always will.”

According to Mr Knight, it is too early in the development process to predict an arrival date, but said the company would not risk compromising the end result with a hasty approach.

“It takes time and we've only just recently decided to do it. We have been thinking about it for a long time but we have actually funded it now. It's going to be some time before we have anything to wheel out. A couple, perhaps two to three years.

“We are not going to rush it. It's got to be perfect.”

Unlike some rival models including the Bentley Bentayga, which shares a platform with other Volkswagen Group models, the Rolls-Royce will have unique underpinnings and is being designed from scratch.

“It's a unique architecture, an all new Rolls-Royce family of architecture. We are building Rolls-Royces from the ground up and in that sense it will be the most authentic high-bodied all-terrain vehicle that's on the market.

“It's a more casual concept than Rolls-Royces have previously been. The all-terrain capability lends itself to more multiple use. It will be the Rolls-Royce of SUVs.”

Until an official moniker is confirmed, the project has been named Cullinan after the largest diamond in the United Kingdom's Crown Jewels, but don't call the big Roller an SUV.

“Rolls-Royce is not sport and it's not utility so we don't do SUVs,” said Mr Knight.

Earlier this year, Rolls-Royce released images of a mule test vehicle based on its Phantom II luxury sedan, which rode on jacked up suspension that will form the basis for the forthcoming all-terrain vehicle.

The company will be one of the last to come to the premium SUV party with Bentley's Bentayga and the Jaguar F-Pace freshly unveiled, while the Lamborghini Urus has been confirmed for 2018 at the latest.

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