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Bentley’s SUV is go

Sign o' the times: Bentley's EXP 9F concept received a mixed reaction when it was revealed in early 2012.

Controversial Bentley SUV gets the go-ahead as part of a massive investment in UK


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24 Jul 2013

BENTLEY has finally given the production green light to an ultra-luxury, Range Rover rivaling SUV, to go on-sale around the globe from 2016.

To be built in the UK, at Bentley’s facility in Crewe, the unnamed SUV will headline an £800 million investment in its headquarters and new model pipeline. The cash-splash will create 1000 news jobs, according the Bentley.

The British-based, Volkswagen-owned brand first mooted a move into the SUV space when it tore the covers from the polarising EXP 9F concept at the 2012 Geneva motor show.

As we reported at the time, that concept drew ire from many quarters for its unorthodox styling. While the company used the exercise as a litmus test, it is expected the road-going version will lose some of the more controversial design elements.

The new model will be the fourth in the current range joining the Continental GT, Flying Spur and Mulsanne.

Bentley is yet to confirm a name for the new arrival, although we suspect it would not be unreasonable to put your money on something catchier than EXP 9F. Rumours persist around the name ‘Falcon’, which is naturally close to home for Australian Ford fans.

Details of the new model were not released with the announcement, but Bentley is saying that the SUV will be the most powerful and luxurious in the market and visually unlike any other.

Bentley chief operating officer Wolfgang Schreiber has previously stated that the model is likely to share the existing Bentley 373kW/660Nm twin-turbo V8 and 447kW/800Nm W12 engines.

A previously hinted at V6 plug-in hybrid powertrain may also find its way under the bonnet of if Bentley decides to go ahead with the brand-first technology.

Bentley has previously said the hybrid will provide a 30km zero-emissions range, achieve a sub five-second 0-100km/h sprint and emit 130 grams per kilometre of CO2 – lower than the least polluting Ford Focus.

Don’t forget Range Rover has something similar in the works.

Parent company Volkswagen’s MLB platform is likely to provide the basis for the Bentley, but other technology such as Porsche’s four-wheel-drive architecture may also be borrowed.

China, Russia and the US have all been identified as key markets for the model but Australia’s strong SUV market may also be targeted. GoAuto is awaiting comment from Bentley’s Asia Pacific representatives.

The EXP 9 F will compete with high-end SUVs such as the Porsche Cayenne, Range Rover and, if it is confirmed for production, Lamborghini’s Urus. Note that two of these three are from VW-owned brands.

The production announcement was made at Bentley’s UK headquarters with both the British prime minister David Cameron and chairman of the board of Volkswagen Dr Martin Winterkorn present.

Mr Cameron said he was “delighted that Bentley will be building their new vehicle here, not only creating a thousand jobs, but safeguarding many more, as well as increasing training opportunities for highly skilled apprentices”.

Dr Winterkorn praised the UK as a manufacturing location, saying “the Volkswagen Group believes in the UK as a competitive location for industrial production.

“Bentley fans all around the world are looking forward to the brand’s first SUV. Together we will make this new Bentley another true Bentley – powerful, exclusive and successful.”

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