Bentley and Lamborghini to create new ultra-luxury vehicle niche

Article by Anita Panait, on March 30, 2013

Bentley and Lamborghini, both units of Volkswagen AG, are aiming to create a new niche -- the ultra-luxury sports utility vehicle/crossover carrying prices of between $200,000 and $250,000. The chief executives of the carmakers said they are aiming to produce more than 7,000 ultra-luxury vehicles combined every year.

The ultra-luxury SUV/crossovers are expected to get the approval of Volkswagen despite the current sales slump in Europe, the units’ CEOs said. This is because Bentley and Lamborghini are considering the U.S. as their largest market, as sales of crossovers and SUV continue to rise in the country. Once the two models are launched in the US, they will become the most expensive SUVs available. They will be going up against the upper end of UK and German vehicles like the Range Rover Autobiography with a price of $130,990, and the Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG with a price tag of $135,225. Prices include shipping.

Lamborghini and Bentley’s ultra-luxury would be underpinned by a new VW Group platform that will make its debut with the redesigned Audi Q7 to be launched next year. The new platform will also underpin new generations of the VW Touareg and Porsche Cayenne. They could be powered by existing engines that would return outputs of 500 hp to 600 hp.

Bentley would begin producing the ultra-luxury SUV, which is based on the EXP 9 F Concept unveiled at the 2012 Geneva Auto Show, in late 2015 or early 2016. Lamborghini, meanwhile, will commence producing the Lamborghini Urus SUV, which is based on the concept unveiling at the 2012 Beijing auto show, in 2017. According to Bentley CEO Wolfgang Schreiber, many of the brand's owners also own an SUV or crossover, thus producing one with a Bentley badge makes sense.

The Bentley SUV would likely be powered by the W-12 and V-8 engines installed in its current luxury cars.  The Bentley SUV will also be installed with advanced communications and entertainment technology. Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann said that the Urus would have sportier handling and performance than the Bentley SUV.

From a designer’s standpoint, EXP 9 F was a dream task, the opportunity to produce an entirely different type of Bentley. The design team had a coherent plan for the all-new Bentley SUV from the very start. The EXP 9 F had to epitomize the highest peak of the sport utility sector, laying a new battleground for this car type. The approach had to display Bentley’s trademark regardless of its entirely distinct package and aim along with sculptured, flowing surfaces in line with the Bentley history.

An all-new revolutionary style of Bentley gave the design team an opportunity to choose a more pioneering design concept. The exterior is a clear, dynamic statement fusing crisp, muscular surfaces with distinctive character lines, while maintaining the characteristics of sophistication and strength – a pure Bentley.

Trademark Bentley signs like the matrix grille, the strong power-line, the haunch along each flank, and round lamps are redesigned for EXP 9 F. The ‘hewn from solid’ design language and ingenious detailing highlight the long-lasting quality of this premium SUV.

Bentley designers were challenged not only by the more functional nature of EXP 9 F but by the ‘visible engineering’ of the world-renowned Blower Bentleys. For instance, the day-time running lamp apertures also operate as the charge cooler air intakes for the twin-turbo W12 engine, both with a dramatic, mesh-covered turbine fan layout and ‘rifled’ inner surface texture.

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Topics: bentley, lamborghini, suv

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