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Bentley 'still working on' small sportscar

Ticking over: Bentley might have shelved its EXP 10 concept if it were not for a significant response from fans the world over, and a production model is still a possibility.

'Overwhelming response' keeps Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 on the drawing board


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18 Mar 2016

WITH an “overwhelming” response to its EXP 10 Speed 6 concept and a sharpened focus on a more youthful audience, Bentley is considering which market to tackle next, including the two-seater sportscar market and other SUV opportunities.

Bentley's target market started broadening with the introduction of its Continental GT in 2003, but with the large two-door coupe now well established and the new Bentayga luxury large SUV on the ground, the brand is mulling its next move.

Speaking at the Australian launch of Bentley's foray into all-terrain vehicles, Bentley Asia-Pacific dealer sales manager David Simpson said the company was tracking the changes in its customer profile, and responding to a different buyer.

“Part of it is introducing new models and keeping your range fresh,” he said. “We see that particularly in Australia where customers are looking for something new every year. The average changeover is about 18 months.

“Our older customers keep their car a long time but there’s a younger generation of luxury car owners that are changing their cars very, very frequently. To compete in that sense we need to be able to offer new cars to market.

“We want to be bringing out something new every year.” With a continued focus on younger buyers, one possibility for addition to the Bentley range is a production version of the EXP 10 Speed 6 concept that rolled out at the Geneva show a year ago, and Mr Simpson confirmed the model was still on the cards.

“It’s still a concept and we are looking at it, but I think the response to that car was one of the strongest to any concept car we’ve ever shown and we are listening to that. It’s not something that we would just forget about.

“It's not confirmed but we are definitely still looking at that car. The response was overwhelming. I had customers trying to give us money for a car that’s still a concept. We know that there is a long list of customers waiting for that car. We’ve heard that at the factory and we are still working on it.” Mr Simpson explained that the Australian market was an unusual entity and has a high number of self-made young professionals who were looking for sportier luxury vehicles, and it was having to evolve with the market.

“The EXP 10 would be a pure two-seater and as we’ve seen with other cars, there is still an appetite for two-seat cars. For the Australian market we see a lot more of the 35-to-40 year-old property developers, the younger money that’s coming through.

“These people are not looking for luxury sedans. We are seeing the demographic changing in Australia. In the past we’ve had the big Arnage, Mulsanne and Flying Spur which came from mining wealth but now we are seeing Chinese investment coming in to the country.

“The change in who is buying our cars is certainly getting younger. There is an expectation around technology and powertrain and practicality, and we need to be meeting that in years to come.” With its new Bentayga high-performance luxury SUV, Bentley has breached a new booming segment, with which it says has the potential to increase sales by 50 per cent and offers a major advantage over its main rival.

“Rolls-Royce have made some big changes deciding to drop the Phantom (Coupe and Drophead Coupe) which was a model that wasn’t selling any more. They are also looking at an SUV, but I think that is a long time away. We came to the market at the right time with our SUV.

“Being first is always the right time to come but we need to make sure that we stay ahead and keep introducing more and more of what our customers want.” Beyond the large SUV market and possible smaller sportscars, Mr Simpson said additional models or variants in the high-rider market were also under consideration, including a sub-Bentayga model or perhaps a more affordable model more focused on city living.

“It’s another thing that we are looking at at the factory is potentially variations on a theme for Bentayga. We know that some of our SUV customers are going to be city dwellers and they just want it for its style and its commanding driving position. Those are things we could maintain.”

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