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Bentley confirms luxury SUV for 2016

Tue, 23 Jul 2013

Citing “extremely positive customer response” to the idea, Bentley has officially given its super-luxury SUV the go-ahead. Since the VW board already greenlit the project back in February, the only thing holding the vehicle back is the time it will take Bentley to set up production lines -- and perhaps to work out the design.

The announcement confirms that Bentley is joining Porsche and Maserati, and possibly Lamborghini, in jumping into the high-end SUV game. It's no secret why: The pricey vehicles mean big bucks for luxury automakers, thanks in no small part to increasing demand from customers in China and Russia.

There's no word on how the production vehicle will differ from the Bentley EXP 9F concept unveiled at the 2012 Geneva motor show, but the automaker has indicated that it will make changes to the somewhat controversial (read: googly eyed) styling. A teaser line drawing of the car's profile seems to indicate that the overall proportions will be similar to those of the Cayenne/Toureg -- no real surprise there -- and that it will retain the sculpted rear haunches seen on both the EXP 9F concept and the production Continental GT:

Bentley didn't say how its luxury SUV would differ from the EXP 9F concept, and this sketch of the profile suggests that overall proportions will be very similar.

If reports from earlier this year can be trusted, the SUV may get an eight-cylinder engine with a W12 as a possible option. Pricing could start at roughly $270,000, and the automaker previously state that it expects to sell up to 5,000 of the vehicles per year.

Bentley says it is tooling up its Crewe factory to accommodate production, and it expects the SUV to go on sale some time in 2016. Of course, the automaker didn't give any indication as to whether this announcement makes the Lamborghini Urus is any closer to reality, but Volkswagen and its myriad divisions have never been known to let a perfectly good platform go to waste.

By Graham Kozak