Rolls-Royce may be forced to expand its lineup beyond the über-luxury cars gobbled up by the ultra-wealthy jetset, as new competition in the form of the rumored, high-end Mercedes-Benz S-Class could take a slice of the luxury pie from the BMW-owned manufacturer.

Automotive News reports that this, along with the combination of BMW's unwillingness to move above the price-point set by the 7-Series and Bentley's expansion into the SUV realm, could force Rolls-Royce's hand. AN is arguing that, as unrealistic as it might sound, Rolls could develop a four-door crossover or shooting brake, but that any such plans are in the earliest of stages.

In the near term, the smallest Rolls-Royce, the Ghost, will get a refresh in 2014, while the sporty Wraith fastback will spawn a convertible variant by 2015. The big boy of the Rolls-Royce range, meanwhile, is due for a far more comprehensive re-do. The Phantom is expected to share a platform with the next-generation 7-Series in 2016. Advanced materials are expected to feature heavily, as Rolls-Royce seeks to trim body fat and improve fuel economy without compromising the performance or comfort expected of the brands' flagship model.

All told, the next few years look to be busy ones for one of Great Britain's most distinguished brands.

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