Bentley is expecting to get the green light this autumn for a 150k GBP luxury SUV, a vital new addition that would extend its range to three model lines and secure a more recession-proof future for Britain’s sportiest luxury car maker.
Given to go-ahead, the new Bentley is expected to go on sale in late 2014. It will occupy a new market niche as a super-luxury SUV featuring Bentley’s hallmark effortless performance and styling.
New Bentley boss Wolfgang Durheimer and key engineers and designers are working on the idea for a luxury SUV, which some purists will consider a controversial step for the firm. However, Durheimer has first-hand knowledge of the success of the Porsche Cayenne, a car that attracted criticism from die-hard Porsche fans.
“I have great faith in the SUV market”, said Durheimer. “We are deeply into the project to define a Bentley SUV”.
The Cayenne is now Porsche’s best seller, contributing to more than half of the company’s sales and outselling all of its sports car models put together.
“At Porsche we did very careful homework, market analysis, good design, and then we fired”, said Durheimer. “At Bentley, we are not yet in a position to fire. But when I share my idea with experts in the business they all agree it makes sense”.
Bentley’s SUV is likely to be offered with a V8 diesel
The platform of Bentley’s new SUV is still to be decided, but there are strong indications that it will use the VW Group’s new MLB modular underpinnings and will probably share componentry with the next-generation Audi Q7.
The next-gen Q7 has been separated from the Touareg/Cayenne platform, and Bentley could easily join with Audi. Audi and Bentley are already co-operating on a new 4.0-litre turbocharged V8 for the Continental and hot A6 models.
Durheimer also supports Bentley adopting diesel and hybrid powertrains, which in the new SUV is likely to mean a V8 diesel. Earlier reports suggested a V12, but Bentley has dismissed the idea. Druheimer thinks that a V8 diesel would need to produce around 740lb ft of torque.
A W12 petrol would also be offered for markets where diesels are less popular.