Luxury SUV Season
In September, the IAA hosted its annual Motor Show. Frankfurt accommodated over 900,000 car enthusiasts for 11 days. Each year, the international exhibition provides manufacturers with a centre stage for their newest models, concepts and crazy ideas. This year, the show presented facelifts on old favourites including the Fiat 500 and the Audi A4, video game-inspired Bugatti & Hyundai concepts, and the Honda Project 2 & 4 – which is hard to describe without seeing it. However, there was one variety of cars which seemingly stole the show – luxury SUV’s.
Bentley, Jaguar and Maserati previewed their debut SUV’s, Audi and Lexus demonstrated their newest SUV innovations, and Lamborghini & Rolls-Royce announced the forthcoming arrival of theirs respectively. Tesla’s gullwing-door sporting all-electric Model X is highly anticipated, and the Mercedes G Wagon has become a celebrity must-have item.
An SUV – a sports utility vehicle – combines the towering presence of a pick-up truck with the power of a turbo engine and the luxury of a limousine. The all-round satisfaction generated from the ticking of these three motor-mad checkboxes explains the recent surge in popularity, and it certainly makes for good viewing in next season’s Top Gear. The SUV segment is growing at three-times the rate of the new car market as a whole.
For those who can’t wait for Chris Evans’ relaunch, or for the Clarkson-clan’s Amazon quest, Motor Trade Direct has previewed these exciting new cars, along with other prominent luxury SUVs.
Audi Q6 E-Tron
Audi have Tesla’s Model X in their crosshair with the Q6 E-Tron -their first all-electric car will be an SUV which will cost around £60,000. After having appeared in Frankfurt in concept form, the Q6 will not be available until 2018.
The Q-Tron will have 3 electric motors, one at the front, and one at each rear wheel. The Q6 boasts torque vectoring and will have 430bhp, although a boost function will temporarily boost that to 500bhp.
Audi are aiming for a full charge range of 300 miles, with fast charge mode adding 250 miles in half an hour. The roof is set to house pioneering solar panel technology to boost charge, although this is not the primary recharging mechanism.
Audi is yet to reveal a weight figure for the Q6. However, it is claimed to have an SQ5-beating 0-62mph time of just 4.6sec. Top speed is limited to 131mph to preserve the battery charge.
“The most important launch in Bentley’s history,” is a claim made by the British-German car manufacturers, who also state that it “will be the most luxurious SUV in the World.” The Queen certainly trusts this information, with British-German Elizabeth II set to be the first in line to receive the Bentayga – a seemingly ideal fit for her majesty.
After spending over £114 million investment money building the Bentayga, the SUV will be available in 2016 with a substantial but unsurprising starting price tag of £160,000. The company is set to build 3,600 vehicles in the first year of production.
Bentley brilliantly combine design, luxury, technology and performance to complete their first ever SUV.
“It’s not your typical, rugged SUV. We’ve given it contemporary proportions – it’s a two-box design, but using elements from across the whole Bentley portfolio. We’ve very carefully applied Bentley DNA and we’ve aimed for a timeless design – we’re not trying to be trendy.”
Twin LED headlights have been embedded with the iconic Bentley logo and full-length panoramic glass rooves demonstrate architectural innovation. Technology is also prevalent – an eight-inch dashboard touchscreen can be used to access the infotainment system, and 10.2 inch android tablets can be used to enjoy the on-board by backseat passengers. Cruise control and self-parking are included too.
There’s decent practicality with an 430-litre boot (accessed via the hands-free tailgate) and folding rear seats in five-seater cars, while the design of the load bay mirrors the ‘haunches’ outside over the rear wheel arches.
The mighty all-new 12-cylinder W12 engine under its huge bonnet provides 600bhp and 900NM of torque, meaning the Bentayga will get from 0-60mph in 4.0 seconds and deliver an astonishing 187mph.
The Bentayga gets its name of the Roque Bentayga, a rock formation in the Canary Islands.
Another first-ever for a British luxury car manufacturer – Jaguar has developed a luxury crossover to rival its sister Range Rover. Although not strictly an SUV – this agile 4×4 uses the word SUV in certain marketing practises.
The unveiling of the F-Pace at the Frankfurt Motor Show was accompanied by a record-breaking publicity stunt, with an F-Pace completing the largest ever loop-the-loop achieved by a car.
There will be four different F-Paces for consumers to choose from: Prestige (from £34,170), R-Sport (from £36,670), Portfolio (from £39,170), and S (from £51,450), all with five doors and five leather seats.
Both petrol and diesel models will be available when the car hits showrooms in April 2016, plus a rear-wheel drive version will also feature in the range. At the top of the line-up will sit a 375bhp F-Pace S model into which Jaguar has dropped the supercharged V6 from the F-Type sports car.
The F-Pace will squeeze between the Range Rover Evoque and Range Rover Sport in size, but with premium cabin feel and on-road dynamic ability at the top of the agenda. The car will be placed “somewhere between the Audi Q5 and Q7″ and will have enough boot space to give the VW Passat Estate a hard time, with a luxury interior that should make rivals like the Volvo XC90 and BMW X5 look old-fashioned.
A host of hi-tech innovations debut on the F-Pace – but the company is keen to stress that the car will not be complicated to use. Head of connected tech and apps Peter Virk said: “It is the most advanced Jaguar tech ever, but it is equally relevant to grandparents and children.”
Among the highlights is compatibility with the Apple Watch – it’s possible to heat the car when you wake up with a tap of your wrist. A host of connectors are available too, including HDMI, four USBs and MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link). A Wi-Fi hotspot allows eight different devices to be connected, while it’s possible for four different videos to be streamed at any one time. One neat feature that parents will like is the car’s ability to automatically send a text of estimated time of arrival to anyone in the driver’s contact book based on what the sat-nav predicts.
Fuel economy is good, too. The entry-level rear-drive manual will return 57.7mpg and emit just 129g/km of CO2. It’ll do 0-62mph in 8.9 seconds, and hit 130mph flat out. The all-wheel drive auto isn’t quite as efficient (53.3mpg and 139g/km) but it is ever-so-slightly faster (8.7 seconds to 62mph).
The flagship diesel looks great on paper, too – returning 47.1mpg and sprinting from zero to 62mph in just 6.2 seconds. The V6 petrol is the fastest (0-62mph in 5.5 seconds) but also the thirstiest (31.7mpg and 209g/km).
It’s been three years since the concept for Lamborghini’s first ever SUV was unveiled at the Beijing Auto show in 2012. The specifications and capabilities of the Urus have been kept largely secretive, however there have been a few hints dropped.
Due in 2018, Lambo has its sights set on eclipsing Bentley’s Bentayga as the fastest SUV in the world. That means it will need to deliver 0-60mph in less than 4.0sec and reach a top speed of least 187mph.
In 2012, Lamborghini said they were targeting being the lowest CO2 emitter in the SUV sector. CEO Winkelmann has since hinted that the Urus will be their first plug-in as well as their first SUV.
Typical of Lamborghini’s ethos, the Urus will be an exclusive vehicle, with only 3,000 being manufactured annually, attached to a price tag of over £150,000.
Lamborghini has so far refused to reveal engine details of the forthcoming Urus, beyond saying it would develop “around 600bhp”.
Maserati’s first ever SUV will receive its global debut at the 2016 Geneva Motor show in March. The Italian luxury car will begin production in Turin from February 2016. It has been revealed that the Levante will be based on “100% Maserati parts”, and will not borrow anything from other Fiat-Chrysler brands, including Jeep.
When it is released, the Levante will feature Maserati’s 3.0L V6 engine. By 2018, a 560 horsepower V8 will be added. Maserati have hinted that they may also introduce a plug-in hybrid version at some point.
Maserati has set a sales target of 75,000 units by 2018, and the Levante will be key in achieving this. 3000 of these will be sold in the UK. Maserati marketing director James Cowan said that the SUV has the potential to be a “game-changer” for the brand.
Rolls-Royce announced that their first 4×4 will go on sale in 2018, and is likely to be called the Cullinan. Named after the world’s largest rough diamond, Rolls-Royce is aiming to directly rival Bentley’s Bentayga. Their boss even said, “The Bentley SUV is clearly the number two (SUV); Rolls-Royce is the best in the world and will be when our model arrives.”
However, boss Torsten Muller Otvos is steering away from the name ‘SUV’, instead calling it an ‘all-terrain vehicle’.
It will be built largely out of aluminium in order to keep weight in check, and it will ride on a brand new space-frame chassis that it will not share with any other model.
An open letter from the CEO describes the new model as, “offering the luxury of a Rolls-Royce in a vehicle that can cross any terrain” and “A car that appropriately reflects Rolls-Royce’s brand promise of effortless luxury.”
Tesla Model X
Tesla unveiled their ground-breaking Model X in September, and the car is currently in production. The world’s first production all-electric, all-wheel-drive SUV, Tesla’s Model X vows to be the greenest way to cart seven passengers around town.
As well as keeping the air clean with zero exhaust emissions, the Model X features ‘bioweapon defence’ technology to protect owners inside the car from bacteria, allergens and chemicals. With the push of a button, two HEPA air filters provide an air filtering capability of up to 700 times of that of a standard car.
It’s no slow-poke; a 259-hp electric motor powers the front wheels; a 503-hp rear-mounted motor powers the rear for all-wheel drive. The Model X has a 250-mile range and can hit 60 mph in an incredible 3.8 seconds, with a top speed of 155 mph.
The car is designed first and foremost as a family utility vehicle with seven seats, class-leading interior space and practicality, married to strong safety credentials centred around active collision avoidance technology.
Tesla claims that the Model X is the safest SUV ever. With US crash tests awarding it a 5-star rating in every category and a probability of serious injury in a high speed accident of only 6.5%, the stats appear to back that up. The firm also expects a maximum 5-star rating when the car is subjected to the Euro NCAP crash tests.
Pricing has yet to be revealed, but the Model X is predicted to be priced at similar levels to the Model S when it goes on sale, putting it in the £50,000 to £90,000 bracket. The first UK deliveries are due in 2016.
In the front seats, visibility and light levels are enhanced by a panoramic windscreen that extends up and over the driver and front passenger. Tesla’s trademark 17-inch touchscreen dominates the control interface, but there’s also voice control and functions mirrored on the instrument cluster to help keep the driver’s eyes on the road.
The architecture of the Model X allows maximum interior space, with this mid-sized SUV offering seven seats, lots of cabin storage and large boots front and rear. Each of the super-slim second row seats offers enough storage space underneath for hand baggage, just like an airline seat. The auxiliary boot under the bonnet of the car is big enough for a pushchair, which means that you can carry significant amounts of luggage in the car, even with seven people on board.
Lexus’ BMW X5 Rival is now on sale from £39,995 in 2.0-litre turbo form, and £46,995 for the hybrid ahead of deliveries in January.
Powered by the latest Lexus Hybrid Drive, the pioneering RX 450h intelligently combines a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine with two electric motors, delivering seamless power to all four wheels. Thanks to the instantaneous torque of the electric motors, you can accelerate to 62 mph in 7.7 seconds, while emitting just 120 g/km of CO2.
Alternatively, Electric Vehicle mode can be used to drive in near silence, using no petrol and producing zero CO2 or NOX. The RX 450h’s hybrid battery never needs charging and occupies minimum room, resulting in generous luggage space
The RX benefits from accident prevention research, and is now fitted with the breakthrough Lexus Safety System + as standard equipment. This includes a Pre-Crash System with pedestrian detection; lane keeping assist to help you stay on course; automatic high beam for enhanced vision at night; and adaptive cruise control, which regulates your speed to that of the vehicle in front.
An optional large factory-fitted panoramic roof adds a sense of freedom, extra headroom and sunshine to the RX cabin. It is also fitted with a movable glass section at the front to give a true open-air feeling and an electric sliding blind should the sun become too intense.
High-tech features are seen throughout; including four illuminating door handles which gently illuminate to create a unique Japanese ‘Omotenashi’ welcome. The centre console is laser etched by Yamaha’s piano division, creating an intriguing lined pattern, before being hand polished to create a beautiful sheen. Rear passengers have ample legroom in leather seats while enjoying the unique pleasure of the optional 15-speaker Mark Levinson audio.
To make things more comfortable for rear passengers, reclining and heated seats can be ordered along with a full-length panoramic sunroof. The wheelbase is stretched by 50mm compared to its predecessor, too, freeing up more legroom. In fact, the new RX is 120mm longer overall, 10mm wider and 5mm lower than the outgoing car, which should boost the current 446-litre boot space – 204 litres less than the BMW X5.