Parent Volkswagen has approved a new SUV from Bentley to enter production, according to German newspaper Handelsblatt. Citing board sources, the report revealed that VW's supervisory board has entered a deal to produce an ultraluxury vehicle based on the EXP 9F concept presented at the Geneva auto show in 2012.
The report added that the SUV, which is known internally as Falcon, will have a starting retail price of 200,000 euros ($271,000). It’s likely that the model is produced at VW's plant in Slovakia, with final completion to be done at Bentley's plant in Crewe, England. Bentley has yet to confirm this report. According to Automotive News Europe, a spokeswoman said that the company continues to wait for the official approval from Volkswagen.
She added that it seems to be “very positive” that its production will get the green light. At last month’s Detroit auto show, Bentley CEO Wolfgang Schreiber said that the SUV's design will look a lot like the rest of the Bentley brand instead of taking after the quite controversial design of the EXP 9F concept. He said that the SUV is likely to have its launch in three years.
He said that it’s likely that the SUV will be powered by an eight-cylinder engine and maybe even an optional W-12. The SUV is expected to have a major role in Bentley’s expansion goals.
In 2012, the global unit sales of the brand rose by 22% to 8,510 units. Handelsblatt said that Bentley is aiming for sales of as many as 5,000 SUVs annually. This vehicle will be joining similar models that Lamborghini and Maserati plan to tap into a rising market for ultraluxury SUVs of the very wealthy people in countries like China and Russia.
From a design standpoint, the EXP 9 F project was a dream come true, offering the opportunity to fashion a brand-new Bentley. Right from the start, the team of designers had a precise direction for the new Bentley SUV. As Dirk van Braeckel, Director of Design, explains, the EXP 9 F was meant to symbolise the ultimate top of the sport utility group, creating new standards for this vehicle type. The design had to show Bentley's sport character even though its packaging would be extremely different and made together with sculpted, continuous surfaces in line with the Bentley heritage.
A new Bentley class meant that the style team could use a more contemporary design method. The exterior expresses a boldness and a dynamism that combine crisp, strong surfaces with trademark character edges, while maintaining the virtues of indulgence and authority - a true Bentley.
Main Bentley touches like the matrixed grille, rounded lamps, and the robust, powerful line and side following the flanks are reimagined for EXP 9 F. The crafted from solidity design ethos and advanced detail accent the strong character of this extreme-luxury SUV.
The design team was inspired by the EXP 9’s more practical traits as well as by the famed 'visible engineering' of the Blower Bentleys. For example, the daytime running lamps have apertures that also act as charge cooler air intakes for the engine, each having a vivid, meshed turbine fan designing and rifled finished inner surface.