New Ultra-Luxury SUVs Arrive on the Scene

Bentley Bentayga global media drive, Palm Springs, USA. Jan 2016 Photo: James Lipman

One of the many differences between the ultra-luxury vehicle segment and more mainstream brands has been specialization. Whereas Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Ford, GM and the like produce mass-market vehicles that cater to every type of driver — with the hope that consumers will move up from their first, entry-level car, eventually graduating to the “halo” vehicle at the top of the line. And, they throw in a truck, minivan, a crossover or two, and maybe an SUV for good measure, just to cover all bases. Luxury brands like Lexus, BMW, Mercedes, and others gustily joined the crossover craze, with unmitigated success. But, the ultra-luxury brands have, until recently, stayed in their lane, so to speak. Porsche makes sports coupes, Jaguar has sedans and coupes — luxury utility vehicles were strictly Range Rover territory.

Porsche was the first to break that mold, with the debut of the Cayenne for the 2003 model year and the smaller Macan a decade later. Now, others have joined the fray. Here’s a look at the newest ultra-luxury SUVs.

Bentley Bentayga

The carmaker calls it the “Bentley of SUVs,” aiming to be the benchmark against which all SUVs are measured. Introduced for the 2017 model year, it is the fastest and most powerful SUV, with an all-new W-12 engine and a top speed of 187 miles per hour. It reaches 60 miles per hour from a dead stop in about 4 seconds. Of course, it features state-of the-art driver assistance and infotainment systems, exquisite, individualized details, and impeccable craftsmanship and materials and can take on the most challenging environments. Named SUV of the Year by Robb Report, Bentayga is for those who demand luxury without restriction.
Price – From $229, 100

Bentley Bentayga global media drive, Palm Springs, USA. Jan 2016 Photo: James Lipman


Jaguar F-Pace

Jaguar’s first foray into the SUV field is the F-Pace, actually a performance crossover, rather than a sport utility. It is marked by a decidedly Jaguar appearance, with the familiar mesh grille and contoured body style. The lightweight aluminum architecture is strong and stiff, delivering agility, refinement and efficiency. Jaguar claims that F-Pace has the most advanced infotainment system, with a tablet-style touchscreen that is intuitive with high-quality graphics. Front and rear passengers ride in luxury with heated, reclining seats, and class-leading rear legroom. Top speed is electronically limited at 155 mph, and it can travel from zero to 60 in 5.1 seconds. It will be available as all-wheel or rear-wheel drive, with gasoline or diesel engines in six models.
Price – From $40,900 to $69,700 base



Alfa Romeo Stelvio

While still in the rumor stage at this point, Alfa Romeo is said to be targeting Jaguar F-Pace and Porsche Macan with its new crossover. Stelvio is said to share the underpinnings of the Giulia sports sedan, and is expected to have the same 550-horsepower engine as the Guilia Quadrifoglio, although actual power may vary once the engine is tuned for the sport utility. Sources like Auto Car suggest that Stelvio could have a starting price of around $73,000.

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