Although it was largely expected Bentley’s proposed SUV would eventually enter production, the automaker finally confirmed today that the project has been given the green light. The vehicle, which will share its platform with next-generation versions of the Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg, will be produced at Bentley’s main facility in Crewe, England and go on sale in 2016.
Over the next three years Bentley will invest more than $1.2 billion in its Crewe facility and the development of new models. Other possibilities include a convertible version of the Mulsanne flagship sedan.
But it is the SUV that will be the focus of Bentley’s endeavors for the next few years, as it is expected to be the brand’s top-selling model. The strong response from the public to build the vehicle is what ultimately swayed the decision makers at Bentley’s Volkswagen Group parent.
“Bentley fans all around the world are looking forward to the brand’s first SUV,” Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn said at today’s announcement. “Together we will make this new Bentley another true Bentley--powerful, exclusive and successful.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron was also present at the announcement and welcomed the additional investment in Britain’s automotive industry, which he said was churning out a new car every 20 seconds.
As for the vehicle itself, it will be styled along the lines of 2012’s controversial EXP 9 F concept, albeit with major revisions to the design. Power in base trim is expected to come from Bentley’s twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8, while a twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter W-12 should remain an option. This range-topping engine is expected to be updated soon for improved performance and efficiency.
As previously confirmed by the automaker, a plug-in hybrid option may also feature. Based on the Volkswagen Group’s next-generation hybrid technology, the plug-in hybrid system likely employed in Bentley’s SUV will feature a V-6 engine and offer an electric-only driving range of 18 miles and 0-60 mph acceleration in less than 5 seconds.
Note, just one year after the Bentley SUV enters production Lamborghini will start production of its own SUV sharing the Volkswagen Group’s flexible platform.