Like it or not, Bentley will be bringing an SUV to showrooms based on its polarizing
EXP 9 F concept car
unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March. Bentley tells us potential customers love the design, something the brand’s outgoing CEO, Wolfgang Dürheimer, reaffirmed at the recent Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
Though the general public may disagree, Dürheimer explained that Bentleys aren’t sold to your average new car buyer.
"A Bentley is not a car for everyone," he said to Inside Line
. He went on to concede that the design is not perfect, and that survey results show that most Bentley customers rate the design somewhere “between 7 and 10."
In a previous interview
, Bentley’s exterior design chief David Hilton said the styling of the production version will be toned down a bit compared to the concept, though the quad-circle headlight design would remain, as well as the commanding driving position and overall proportions.
Something not previewed on the concept, though likely to make production, is the option of third-row seats. While most versions are expected to be ordered with just two rows, some buyers, particularly those who typically have a nanny tagging along to mind their kids, are said to be interested in a third-row.
This means that the production version is also likely to be bigger than the concept, which may look big in images though is not quite full-size when it comes to SUV standards. To make sure the big SUV still performs like a Bentley, the vehicle will debut with a 12-cylinder engine. Further down the track a more sporting V-8 option will be offered, followed by a plug-in hybrid option
Bentley has confirmed that 2,000 people have already expressed a firm interest in the car, and it looks like the automaker’s plant in Crewe is already starting the early preparation work
for its production. We expect the new SUV to launch sometime in late 2014 or early the following year.