Rolls-Royce is a name synonymous with automotive luxury. And after 111 years of producing handcrafted sedans, coupes and convertibles, the company has now announced that its famous Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament will soon adorn "a vehicle that can cross any terrain", which we can take to mean an SUV rather than a tank.

In an open letter, Rolls-Royce Chairman Peter Schwarzenbauer and CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös confirmed that the company would be producing a "high-bodied car, with an all-new aluminum architecture" designed to meet "customers' highly mobile, contemporary lifestyle expectations."

While the idea of a Rolls-Royce SUV may seem incongruous to some, Schwarzenbauer and Müller-Ötvös highlighted the ability of the company's vehicles to handle touch conditions, including transporting Lawrence of Arabia across unexplored deserts and mountain ranges. They also mentioned the marques performance in the Scottish Reliability Trials, which helped establish its reputation in 1907.

Just when we can expect to get a glimpse of the vehicle's design remains to be seen, with Schwarzenbauer and Müller-Ötvös say Rolls-Royce will take its time in developing the concept, and that the company's engineers and design team, led by Director of Design Giles Taylor, have been put to the task of creating the new car.

The open letter says the move is in response to "discerning" customers requesting such a vehicle, but it would also be hard for the company to ignore the high-end SUV market, which is already contested by names including Porsche, Range Rover and Lexus.

Lamborghini and Maserati have also signaled interest in the segment (that would be renewed interest for Lamborghini which produced the LM002 from 1986 until 1992), while Bentley has announced plans to build "the most powerful SUV in the market", which it revealed at the recent NAIAS in Detroit would be called the Bentayga. Maybe Bentley's will be the SUV for driving , and the Rolls-Royce will be the SUV for being driven in.

Source: Rolls Royce