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Future models - Bentley - EXP 9 F

Bentley SUV getting closer

Loose resemblance: The production Bentley SUV is expected to smooth away some of this EXP 9 F concept’s rougher and more polarising edges.

Controversial Bentley SUV edging towards production, says company chief

Bentley logo22 Jan 2013

BENTLEY’S polarising luxury SUV – codenamed EXP 9 F – has edged closer to getting the production green light, with reports that the company is poised to sign-off on the final design.

The showroom model is expected to emerge in 2015, and is expected to lose some of the more controversial design elements from the garish concept car unveiled at the Geneva motor show in March last year.

Rather, the production version is expected to feature styling more reminiscent of Bentley’s current models – the Continental and Mulsanne.

Speaking to Automotive News, Bentley chief operating officer Wolfgang Schreiber said the original EXP 9 F concept was not built as a styling exercise, but rather a litmus test to see how the market reacted to the idea of a high-riding Bentley.

“If you saw the styling, you would say, ‘that is a real Bentley’,” he said.

Mr Schreiber said the production version would likely use modified versions of Bentley’s existing twin-turbo V8 and W12 engines, “because people like this effortless acceleration and torquey engines”.

54 center imageLeft: Bentley COO Wolfgang Schreiber.

Bentley announced at the Beijing motor show last year that it was also considering a brand-first V6 plug-in hybrid powertrain that would be more frugal than a base Ford Focus.

The Volkswagen-owned luxury brand has previously stated that any future production SUV would likely be built in Britain using the VW-Audi Group’s MLB platform, though it could also employ the Porsche Cayenne’s MSB rear- and all-wheel-drive architecture.

Key markets identified for the SUV are China, Russia and the United States.

Bentley expects the SUV would soon become the biggest-selling vehicle in the company’s portfolio, just as the Cayenne is for sister brand Porsche.

Former Bentley and Bugatti chief – and now Audi head of technical development – Wolfgang Duerheimer told GoAuto in Geneva last year that any production SUV would have off-road ability.

“We will not miss out on off-road ability,” Mr Duerheimer told us.

“This car will be able to climb the steep sand dunes of the Middle East, it will be good in mud and dirt in winter, so there will be no limits.”

The Bentley SUV is just one of two Volkswagen Group uber-luxury off-roaders on the production radar, with sister brand Lamborghini expected to proceed with a vehicle based on the wild Urus concept that was unveiled in Beijing last year.

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