► Rolls-Royce's new aluminium chassis
► Testing has begun on public roads
► Due to underpin future limos, 4x4
Rolls-Royce has confirmed it is developing a new lightweight aluminium spaceframe architecture which will underpin its next generation of luxury cars due from early 2018.
It's taken the unusual step of releasing its own official 'spyshot' of the first test engineering mules, wrapped in trademark camouflage and now pounding around public roads 'in various locations around the world.' It's one way of defeating the cameraphone-wielding paparazzi public, we suppose...
Rolls-Royce: the next five years
This week's announcement underlines that Goodwood is busy developing the next generation of cars. It's a necessary step: the Phantom was launched in 2003 and the Ghost is related to the last-generation BMW 7-series.
But crucially, the new architecture will also underpin the new 'Cullinan' SUV planned for launch later this decade, taking the fight to the Bentley Bentayga and other top-end luxo-SUVs in the pipeline. Our artist's impression below shows the likely look.
Rolls says its two-year testing programme 'aims to ensure that the new space-frame structure perfectly delivers Rolls-Royce’s trademark "magic-carpet ride" on a variety of surfaces and that it is resilient to extreme weather conditions.'
All future models hailing from BMW's luxury wing will use the same modular, aluminium-intensive spaceframe chassis. A company the size of Rolls-Royce - which builds around 4000 cars a year - cannot afford to develop different platforms for its bijou model range.
The boss speaks
Torsten Müller-Ötvös, chief exec of Rolls-Royce, said: 'It is time to take the next step in the luxury journey. This is why I am announcing today that on-road testing of our all-new proprietary architecture is beginning. This new architecture of pure luxury represents considerable investment in the future of our great brand.'