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Bentley SUV Confirmed For 2016

Bentley_SUV2

In news which will excite and confuse many and have a select few reaching for their wallets, Bentley Motors has announced that it is indeed proceeding with the development of the Bentley SUV, which should look something like the EXP 9F shown at the Geneva auto show last year (not the greatest part of this news). No that wasn’t a typo, those two words are actually going together. Bentley. SUV. Seriously.

‘What?’ may be the reaction from many to the news that Bentley are actually ploughing ahead with this project. Apparently it came down to a choice between a new sports car and a new SUV. Despite the fact that the design for a new sports car was the firm favourite, Bentley have opted to go off-road (in theory, if not in eventual practice). The Bentley offering will go head to head with the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S (currently churning out 542 hp from its 4.8L twin turbo V8) and the Range Rover Sport, which aside from being the preferred luxury SUV of choice for James Bond, also boasts a V8 and 510 hp. Not too bad. And there’s plenty of time left between now and 2016.

Bentley’s Chairman and Chief Executive, Dr Wolfgang Schreiber, said: “This is excellent news for Bentley and for the UK. Bentley is increasingly successful and this new fourth model line will leverage the success of the global SUV market. The support of everyone involved with the Company has been fundamental to this decision, which will ensure sustainable growth for the company.”

It could be viewed as something of an odd direction for Bentley to take – when you hear the name you automatically think hand crafted, large, luxurious cars favoured by the ultra-wealthy, most recently the well-paid Premier League footballer. But it could well prove to be the right step. According to Bentley, the market is there, primarily from Bentley customers who have been pressuring the company to put the SUV into production. The SUV market has been growing consistently over the course of the past decade, something which Porsche can attest to – the Cayenne remains Porsche’s best-selling vehicle and according to figures from Forbes, has almost doubled Porsche’s sales worldwide (with around 60,000 sales of the SUV each year). Bentley certainly thinks it’s worth the risk – the SUV will represent a huge investment worth around £800 million and 1,000 jobs at its manufacturing base in Crewe.

The Volkswagen Group subsidiary isn’t the only car maker intent on releasing a luxury SUV in the next few years. Lamborghini, for example, are expected to have the Urus SUV on sale in 2017 for those for whom the madness of Lamborghini also needs to be experienced off-road, or at least on a slightly muddy or stony driveway. Expect a price tag of around $200,000 which should get you 584 hp and a 4.0L V8 Audi engine. And Fiat-owned sports brand, Maserati, will introduce the Levante in 2014 just in time for their centennial celebrations; its most powerful engine a twin turbocharged 3.8L V8. The Bentley aims to be more far more powerful than all current and planned competitors – the earlier concept shown in Geneva has a 6.0L W12 engine producing over 570 hp.

Bentley has said that ‘the SUV will be a thoroughbred Bentley true to the brand hallmarks of luxury, performance, quality and craftsmanship. The styling will set it apart from any other SUV on the road and will be true to the Bentley design DNA.’ The Bentley SUV is certainly different to its current line up and could be described more as ‘flash’ than ‘traditional’ and . It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to imagine a large uptake by wealthy rappers. Despite the not-completely-hideous-but-not-completely-beautiful-either prototype, the company doesn’t intend on changing too much about its current form – apparently a slightly modified appearance mollified potential customers and a complete design overhaul has been since abandoned, which may or may not be the subject of the next Specsaver’s ad. Hopefully the firm hasn’t mimicked Porsche’s initial design efforts with the Cayenne – whose first release can be best described as ‘awful’ and perhaps ‘frightening for small children’. Only time will tell, and plenty can happen in three years as current rivals are sure to take to their drawing boards to ensure their own offerings aren’t completely overshadowed when Bentley launches in 2016. Who knows, we might even get some more high end off-roaders. We’re looking at you, Rolls-Royce.

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