The British marques Jaguar and Bentley have gone head to head to unveil luxury SUVs, marking a glamorous resurgence for the once-unfashionable vehicles.
The Bentley Bentayga, which claims to be the fastest in the world with speeds of up to 187mph, was unveiled to thousands of attendees at the biennial Frankfurt Motor Show by Bentley Motors chief executive Wolfgang Durheimer.
Jaguar’s F-Pace SUV was also put on display for the first time, with the company’s director of design Ian Callum promising to make the traditional Jag sports car a “family friendly” vehicle.
The launches underscore a shift by luxury carmakers to tap growing demand for the sports vehicles around the world. “It has become a glamorous place to be,” Professor David Bailey from Aston Business School said. “Growing emerging markets like China are very keen on SUVS.”
The Bentayga boasts a twin-turbocharged 6.0-litre W12 powertrain and has a first production run of 3,600. Delivery of the luxury vehicle, which starts at £160,200, will kick off early next year. The F-Pace starts at £34,170 and goes on sale next April. “The Bentayga is truly the Bentley of SUVs” Mr Durheimer added.
Global sales of luxury SUVs are forecast to grow by more than 40 per cent between 2008 and 2018, according to estimates by IHS Automotive.
The Frankfurt Motor Show, organised by the German Association of the Automotive Industry, is traditionally seen as a chance for German car makers like BMW, Mercedes-Benz and VW to shine on their home turf.
BMW’s launch of the new 7 Series was overshadowed by the collapse on stage of chief executive Harald Krueger but its gesture control function – which will allow drivers to accept phone calls simply by swiping their hand or turning up the radio volume by making a circular motion with their finger – caught the eye.
Mercedes-Benz offered an even more futuristic development, with the chief executive of parent company Daimler Dieter Zetsche raising the prospect of the group developing driverless cars.
“This is a concrete development goal of ours,” Mr Zetsche said. “It would be even more convenient if the car came to you autonomously.”
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