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Rolls-Royce promises to take the Spirit of Ecstasy off-roading with upcoming SUV

Finally putting an end to one of the longest-standing rumors in the auto industry, Rolls-Royce has all but confirmed that it has started to develop its very first SUV.

The BMW-owned automaker didn’t explicitly use the term SUV but it announced that its engineers are in the early stages of designing a brand new model that will be able to cross any terrain with ease. The yet-unnamed model will be what Rolls calls a “high-bodied car” and it will ride on a brand new platform made entirely out of aluminum.

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Rolls-Royce executives declined to provide additional details about the SUV, saying only that overwhelming demand from current and prospective owners convinced them to move forward with the controversial project. However, earlier reports indicate that the SUV could ride on an evolution of the platform that will underpin the upcoming Mercedes-Benz GL-fighting BMW X7, a move that will help both companies benefit from economies of scale.

Additionally, the SUV could inaugurate Rolls’ first-ever gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid drivetrain in a bid to keep fuel economy in check. A non-hybrid model powered by a Phantom-sourced V12 engine will almost certainly be offered, and sources close to Rolls have hinted that all versions of the SUV will come standard with all-wheel drive.

Rolls will likely preview its SUV’s design with a thinly-veiled concept in the next few years, and the finished product is expected to land in showrooms before the end of the decade. When it debuts, the Rolls-Royce of SUVs will square off against a growing number of high-dollar off-roaders including the Bentley Bentayga, the on-again, off-again Lamborghini Urus and Mercedes-Maybach’s ultra-opulent version of the aforementioned GL.