Wolfgang Dürheimer, Bentley Motors’ CEO recently declared, in reference to the firm’s upcoming SUV, that, “we will be first to use a 12-cylinder petrol engine in a luxury SUV.”
Unfortunately he’s wrong. That distinction belongs to Lamborghini, who offered a 12-cylinder motor in the LM 002 back in the 1980s.
Nevertheless, featuring a motor with 12 bores will still give Bentley’s 4 x 4 a good deal of prestige, since today, there’s nothing currently like it on the market.
As for the type of engine chosen, expect a version of the W12 motor found in the Bentley Continental series, not only preferred for reasons of cost and convenience, but also according to Dürheimer, packaging.
That said, there are currently rumors circulating that besides a gas fueled W12, Bentley may add a V-configuration motor, probably a diesel somewhere further down the line, likely derived from Audi’s existing V12 TDI, currently offered in the Q7 crossover.
With the chief engineer on the project none other than Rolf Frech, who Dürheimer pinched from Porsche (where he worked on the original Cayenne), it looks like all the ingredients are in place for a Bentley SUV to hit the road in the not too distant future (a launch date of around 2015 is believed to be on the cards).
That said, the new vehicle’s introduction will still be determined by the product life cycle of other Bentley models, which Dürheimer says tend to last six to eight years. “The Mulsanne came in 2010, then the Continental no more than a year later, so the new model will be valuable when we are expecting a lull,” he says. “The downswing is the time to introduce this SUV.”
Yet regardless of ‘timing’ Dürheimer is now more convinced than ever that the demand for such a machine as a Bentley 4 x 4 is there. “Ninety-nine per cent of Bentley owners also own an SUV,” he says. “Absolutely thousands of premium SUVs have been sold — Cayennes, Range Rovers, Q7s and so on — but nobody has given those owners the chance to upgrade. We will.”