A new Rolls-Royce SUV is officially on the table, confirmed design boss Giles Taylor. In an interview with Autocar, the project is still in its earliest phases as the design team is only “sketching to assess the viability of the concept. We are not yet grappling with three dimensions and proportions.”

According to Taylor, the biggest concern for Rolls-Royce is whether an SUV model will help or hurt the brand. While the ostentatious Cadillac Escalade has been extremely successful for GM and the Cayenne is one of the best selling vehicles in Porsche history, Taylor emphasized that the Roll-Royce SUV will fundamentally be luxurious and functional.

“I’m interested in function and functionality. I’m looking to create a properly functional vehicle – a shooting brake, not a crossover with a sloping roof. A proper SUV,” said Giles Taylor.

Sources familiar with the project have described the Rolls-Royce SUV as "a kind of Mercedes GLK-plus-plus.” The Rolls-Royce SUV is expected to start at £200,000 ($336,000) and above. Interestingly, Autocar reports that the new SUV will be based on the smaller Ghost platfrom rather than the large Phantom

The Rolls-Royce off-roader is expected to appear no earlier than 2017, a year behind the highly anticipated Bentley SUV. No doubt, both ultra-luxury automakers are aggressively looking into the SUV market due to the booming market created in China.

“Many customers are now Chinese entrepreneurs – savvy and self-made with a young spirit,” explained Giles Taylor. “They might be as young as 30 years old and are very interested in authenticity, Chinese heritage and prestige.”