Bentley has released the first official picture of its forthcoming car, taking the company a step closer into the unchartered territories of Sports Utility Vehicles. The picture only reveals the Continental-inspired front fascia of the SUV, with the rest being obscured by dust. Bentley said that the car will hit the showrooms in 2016 with a price tag ‘in excess of GBP 1,40,000 (Rs 1.41 crore)’. To be powered by Bentley's existing V8 and W12 engines, the yet unnamed SUV will also get a petrol-electric hybrid version by 2017.
Talking about the SUV, Dr Wolfgang Schreiber, chairman and chief executive at Bentley Motors said, "It will be the most luxurious and powerful SUV on the market, setting it apart from any other SUV, true to the brand hallmarks of luxury, performance, quality and craftsmanship. It will create a completely new segment in the SUV market.''
Back in 2012 at the Geneva Motor Show, Bentley had unveiled the much criticized SUV concept, the EXP 9F. The new SUV was supposed to be based on this concept, but as the released picture reveals, the front is nothing like the EXP 9F concept. "The front, side, rear and roof have changed. We created a completely new car, a real Bentley SUV," Dr. Schreiber said. "Now it will meet the expectations of our customers much better than two years ago."
The front of the car houses the British manufacturer’s trademark mesh grille with twin-round light clusters, similar to the Continental GT, with taller SUV-proportioned air dams. Bentley says that they are already done with the summer testing of the car and will soon commence its winter-testing programme. Among other engines, the SUV will also get the 6.0-litre W12 engine, which will be the most powerful one in the lineup. Bentley said it is also ‘considering’ putting a diesel engine in the SUV.
To be built at the company’s manufacturing facility in Crewe, England, Bentley predicts that it will sell around 3,500 of these SUVs every year. Bentley also announced that it will become the sole producer of W12 engines for the VW Group, which will also be manufactured at the Crewe facility. The luxury-SUV segment, which Bentley is targeting, currently has the Range Rover as the only contender. But even the top-end Range Rover Autobiography, with its GBP 1,25,000 (Rs 1.26 crore), falls short of the price territory. Having already received 2,000 pre-orders for the car, Bentley is confident that the SUV will help it achieve the target of 15,000 worldwide car sales by 2018. With Maserati and Lamborghini in the process of readying their luxury SUVs, it remains to be seen whether Bentley can keep its word of bringing the most luxurious and powerful SUV to the market.