The Bentley SUV has been officially confirmed for production. In announcement by the company today (Tuesday July 23), Bentley will build 3500 SUVs at its Crewe, UK, factory from 2016. First scooped by CAR in August 2011, the yet-to-be-named SUV, codenamed internally as ‘Falcon’, is expected to start from around £140,000.
Why is Bentley building an SUV?
Far from its Le Mans winning roots of the 1920s, Bentley’s most lucrative markets – China and Russia – are calling out for an SUV. Demand for luxury cars in China will outstrip that of the USA and Europe by 2020, and Bentley’s the first brand to react to the thirst for super-SUVs. Fellow VW Group brand (albeit officially owned by Audi) Lamborghini will follow up with the high-performance Urus SUV in 2017, while CAR has scooped Rolls-Royce’s secret SUV that’s being developed.
Bentley’s Chairman and Chief Executive, Dr Wolfgang Schreiber, said: ‘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.’
What about that controversial styling?
The Falcon’s production destiny is confirmed, but the styling is anything but. After the concept was shown at the Geneva show in 2012, reactions of disbelief and horror prompted Bentley bosses to order a rethink of the bluff Bentley-on-stilts to appeal to broader, more conservative tastes.
Bentley boss Dr Schreiber conceded the concept’s design had been polarising at best, saying in Geneva: ‘the main intention was not to show the final styling but to get feedback from the market.’ And feedback was what he got…
What do we know about the specification of the Bentley SUV?
The concept car was fitted with the 6.0-litre twin-turbo W12 engine that’s used in the Continental GT and tuned for 592bhp and 590lb ft of torque. Production models won’t be limited to only the flagship motor, though. The Continental’s 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 will also make an appearance, along with a plug-in hybrid V6 petrol option.
Though the show-car used a four-seat set-up (like the upcoming Range Rover long-wheelbase), Bentley will offer five- and seven-seat versions of the SUV if customer demand is strong enough.
Four-wheel drive will be standard on all models, with Bentley bosses suggesting that the Falcon will possess at least some off-road ability, in order to give the car a Range Rover-like sense of credibility that buyers fall over themselves to experience.
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