Bentley's new chairman and CEO, Dr Wolfgang Schreiber, confirmed today that the EXP 9F - the controversial SUV shown at the 2012 Geneva motor show - would be heavily redesigned before going on sale.
CAR greeted the EXP 9F with the headline 'I'm a Bentley designer, get me out of here' in our Geneva show issue. Ironically, head of design Dirk van Braeckel, has subsequently moved to a different department within the VW Group.
'This was unconnected to the reception of the EXP 9 F,' said Dr Schreiber. 'Dirk worked for Bentley for more than a decade and did a great job. He designed today's great range that you see on our stand today.' Ex-Lamborghini and Seat designer Luc Donckerwolke has replaced van Braeckel and will oversee the reworking of the EXP 9F.
What will change on the Bentley SUV?
Schreiber said he understood the thinking behind the EXP 9F but suggested the production SUV shouldn't so closely follow the Range Rover recipe.
'I think that was one approach but another one could be to look at our own styling features on our existing cars. We have very successful styling on the Mulsanne and Continental - perhaps our customers would prefer a real Bentley SUV to have a more Bentley look.'
He intimated that the car had been too focused on the Chinese market. 'We would not be doing enough if we only looked at the Range Rover for inspiration.'
Bentley says it has 2500 expressions of interest for an SUV. A decision to greenlight the project is due by the end of 2012.