Bentley SUV headed for production in 2016
The Bentley 4x4 will be the most powerful SUV on sale, but next to other upcoming SUVs from Lamborghini and Maserati, we're not so sure.
Color us unsurprised. Bentley, a subsidiary of the giant Volkswagen Group, which also owns the luxury brands Lamborghini and Bugatti, has had its EXP 9F concept approved for production since February. Despite some initial consternation about the concept's brutish lines, to which Bentley responded by immediately beginning a redesign following Geneva, customers are apparently feeling "extremely positive" toward the car, according to Bentley.
Save for the Porsche Cayenne, six-figure SUVs like the Range Rover and Mercedes-Benz G-Class have gone untouched for decades, and Bentley isn't going to sit by and watch the segment take off. Lamborghini and Maserati are readying their own SUVs, and even rival Rolls-Royce is dreaming up an SUV based on the upcoming BMW X7.
Bentley claims this SUV, codenamed by the media as Falcon, will be the "most powerful SUV in the market." Given the luxury rigs above, that's a tall order, especially against corporate cousin Lamborghini and its 700-horsepower V12 engines. By 2016, Bentley will have a lot to prove.
Audi, also part of the Volkswagen Group, will likely underpin the chassis for the Bentley SUV as part of the next-generation Q7. The bronze and glass interior will probably be toned down for production, but the teak picnic deck and accompanying glassware -- and those 23-inch wheels -- should remain. The price will be well north of $200,000.
It's also not Bentley's first SUV. In 1994, Bentley built six custom "Dominator" SUVs for the Sultan of Brunei at more than $4 million each (the deal apparently was lucrative enough to keep the British company out of bankruptcy at that time). In three years, the merely wealthy will soon share in the sultan's joy.
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