Saturday 13 August 2011

Bentley planning large SUV

A Bentley SUV has been rumoured since 2006, and while many believed it was pure speculation, recently Bentley CEO, Wolfgang Durheimer has confirmed a SUV model for the uber-luxury brand.

Speaking at a recent press gathering, Durheimer said: “If Bentley were able to sell an SUV with the same level of craftsmanship as a Continental or Mulsanne, we could have an interesting success on our hands.” He even suggested that the new model would become Bentley's best-selling vehicle.

Durheimer pitched the new SUV as an alternative to the Range Rover and Porsche Cayenne, and continued with “America is one of our largest individual markets, as well as China, Middle East, Russia and Europe, where SUVs are very popular.”

2009 Audi Q7 V12 TDI

Design chief, Dirk van Braeckel and engineering manager,
Uli Eichhorn are working with Durheimer on the new SUV
 in Crewe, Northern England
Codenamed BY736, the newcomer is likely to ride on the MLB Evo architecture and will feature coupé like styling and a a tailored four or five seat interior. Although there's no word on powertrains, the new twin-turbo 4.0 litre V8, twin-turbo 6.0 litre W12, and possibly a 1.000Nm (738lb ft) 6.0 litre V12 TDI may be available, in addition to a potential plug-in hybrid.

Bentley is said to be heavily involved in the development of the new £150,000 vehicle, although prices are yet to be set; 'I don't know their exact figures, but the car would be at the top of the market.'

'There is fresh, "undug" ground on the SUV side,' said Durheimer. 'The Porsche Cayenne Turbo S is good, very attractive, but it can be beaten on craftsmanship. If we could produce an SUV with the interior finish of the Mulsanne, we could have a real success in China, the U.S and Europe. It could be our biggest seller. There are discussions ongoing with the [VW Group] board; they are pretty advanced talks, but the project does still need approval.'

Durheimer said he had great trust in the SUV market; "I have great faith in the SUV market and it’s here to stay" says Durheimer, who counts the launch of the Porsche Cayenne during his tenure at Weissach as "one of my proudest achievements". The vehicle will be lavished with real wood and leather, that will place it above the Range Rover in terms of perceived quality. Also, when 'BY736' launches, it will coincide with Aston Martin's Lagonda SUV.

Furthermore, the CEO said he would like to see diesel-powered Bentleys as he is a firm supporter of the technology. The final greenlight for Bentley’s SUV is still expected from the VW Board, although Bentley is positive that the project will get the greenlighted.

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