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It appeared that the British automaker was going straight to redesigning the SUV based on its lukewarm response, but now Bentley’s chief of exterior design, David Hilton, has gone on the record to say that “the response has been incredibly positive” on the EXP 9 F and that potential customers “love the presence of the vehicle and the personality it projects.” Surprising, to say the least.
So does that mean Bentley isn’t redesigning its EXP 9 F Concept before it makes its production debut? Not exactly. The automaker is close to finalizing the design for production and Hilton did admit that the styling will be toned down next time we see it. What will remain however is the quad-circle light design along with the SUV’s general proportions, rectangle taillights, and contrasting oval exhausts.
Hilton even hinted that the rear end look is something we will be seeing on more Bentley models in the near future, perhaps on a newly-redesigned Continental GT. Bentley still has high aspirations for its SUV when it hits the market, estimating that it will move 15,000 of them yearly. If that sounds like a high figure, it should; that’s more than double of what Bentley sold in total last year.
But changes are being made to make Bentley models more attractive in emerging markets such as China, India, and Russia. The British automaker is also working on providing more fuel-efficient powerplant options including the possible plug-in hybrid variant for the upcoming SUV.
As for future models, Hilton stated that there are no plans for a smaller Bentley.
[Source: Motor Authority]
More than a month later, the luxury automaker is revealing engine details including possibilities that might come as a surprise. As might be expected, a 4.0-liter V8 version is being discusses, as is a 6.0-liter V12 to top the range, but the shocker here is that Bentley says it is considering a plug-in hybrid powertrain.
All three engine options are tentative to date, but the two traditional Bentley powerhouses are likely to live into production. If the automaker decides to roll out the third variant it would represent an entirely new direction for the company: an SUV, and a hybrid — both items that would be newcomers in the British marque’s line.
According to the company, the efficiency-minded powertrain would be based around a V6. We know that the V12 would offer 600 hp and 500 hp from the V8, but estimated horsepower figures for the hybrid system were absent. While there’s a chance the world could see such an EXP 9 F built, it seems more likely that the company is using its ostentatious and the attention it garners to signal possible future options across the board.
With tightening average fuel economy numbers becoming a greater issue for automakers like Bentley that have historically relied on gas-guzzling powerplants, it might make sense to start thinking of alternatives. Then again, it may very well be considering a hybrid SUV for China, it’s largest market.
We all know hindsight is 20/20, and we can’t help but wonder if Bentley had the opportunity to do it all over again if they would have chosen a different path.
In an interview with Motor Trend, CEO Wolfgang Durheimer explained that Bentley had a few options when he decided to expand the model range. Besides the SUV that we see here today, Bentley strongly considered another sports car – one that would be smaller and more pure than the Continental GT. Durheimer didn’t elaborate on the other options, but did say that the sports car even has a model sitting outside the office of Dirk van Braeckel, the company’s head of design.
As for how Durheimer feels with the SUV option? “In the end the SUV was a better idea. It sits above all its competition. The sports car would have had the Porsche 911 Turbo as opposition.” We guess Durheimer doesn’t really see the Cayenne as competition to its upcoming SUV model.
Regardless, we are interested to see what Bentley does to change the design of their SUV around to make it more… palatable.
GALLERY: Bentley EXP 9 F Concept
[Source: Motor Trend]
Unveiled as part of the luxurious British brand’s expansion plans, it’s obvious that Bentley is thinking about growth in emerging markets like India and China with this potential new model. Of course, it’s certain to be popular in America, not to mention with Russian oligarchs and African dictators.
Find out more about the new Bentley SUV concept in AutoGuide’s first look video below.
GALLERY: Bentley EXP 9 F SUV Concept
America aside, Bentley’s new SUV concept is an ostentatious look at a future SUV from the prestigious British brand targeted specifically at “emerging markets.”
There’s an increasing demand for extra pricey SUVs from countries like China, Brazil and India, as well as some traditional SUV hot spots like Russia and the Middle East. That said, considering the outrageous success of the Porsche Cayenne, calling the EXP a concept is all but a formality.
With a 4+1 seating arrangement and plenty of stunning quilted leather, the EXP is certain to provide tremendous luxury even in countries where the roads aren’t the best. It will, however, take some serious Bentley comfort engineering to maintain a soft ride on those massive 23-inch wheels.
Powered by the brand’s impressive twin-turbo 6.0-liter W12 engine, Bentley says it could also use a plug-in hybrid engine mated to the new 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8.
Watch our EXP 9 F first look video below.
GALLERY: Bentley EXP 9 F SUV Concept
It’s already public knowledge that British luxury automaker Bentley will be debuting an SUV concept at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, but now reports are coming in that there’s a slight possibility that concept will be a plug-in hybrid variant.
The brand’s first SUV could hit the market within three years if the Volkswagen Group approves of the project. More interesting though is what CEO Wolfgang Duerheimer recently said, “If we decide to build this vehicle, we want to give it our first ever plug-in hybrid powertrain,” Duerheimer said.
By reading in between the lines, we can maybe expect to see this Bentley plug-in hybrid SUV at the Geneva Motor Show, but that could also be a stretch. Duerheimer could merely be mentioning that if the vehicle goes to market, Bentley will be sure to equip it with a plug-in hybrid model.
The CEO also conservatively expects the SUV to have annual global sales of 3,500 to 5,000 units and forecasts around 25,000 units of sales in the model’s lifecycle.
[Source: Automotive News]
Although Bentley already confirmed its newest SUV will be coming to market, we still have no details on when the luxury automaker will release the specifics to the public.
The newest update from Autoweek says that Bentley is scrambling to get together a working concept to debut at the 2012 Geneva Auto Show. The new Bentley SUV will likely be based on the Audi Q7 platform, and incorporate a turbocharged W12 engine. Bentley is not trying to compete with Cayenne or Q7 however, with the company aiming its SUV at the upscale luxury market. Bentley also says that its newest SUV offering will have legitimate off-road capabilities.
If the SUV doesn’t drop at Geneva, we should at least get some details about when to expect the luxurious vehicle to hit the market.
Car and Driver recently sat down with Bentley Chief Wolfgang Dürheimer to get some details on the British automaker’s plug-in hybrid and upcoming SUV. Dürheimer told the publication that we shouldn’t expect to see the plug-in hybrid until the next generation of Bentleys are unveiled and that a final decision on their SUV will be made in just a matter of a few weeks.
The interview also gives us some more details in both of the Bentley projects. The built-in hybrid will be using technology shared with other brands in the Volkswagen group and Bentley has no intentions of reinventing the hybrid system. “For us, differentiation is styling, appearance, prestige, craftsmanship, luxury. For us, hybrid tech is a ‘need-to-have’,” Dürheimer stated. The other brands will also be able to absorb the development costs into their larger budgets.
With that in mind, Dürheimer suggested that Audi‘s new 4.0L twin-turbo V8 could be the gasoline-powered component of the hybrid system, which will feature a motor-generator between the engine and transmission. Dürheimer also said that the W-12 powerplant could also be used since the electric motor fits behind that engine also. As for the electric-only range, Dürheimer said that 16- to 19-miles will be acceptable for a Bentley plug-in hybrid.
As for the SUV, Dürheimer is clearly excited about the upcoming model and has become very encouraged as he gets more and more feedback on it. He’s looking at markets in Russia, China and even the US with the SUV and stated that it won’t be a Hummer, but will be on the large side. “We think we will need to have a lot of space in the back; we need to have a comfort zone, good air conditioning in the back, and everything you need to be transported in the back.”
[Source: Car and Driver]
A Bentley SUV? How uncouth! But damn the recession, luxury SUVs are still the rage—and word from Bentley’s chief executive says a baller Bentley is all part of the package.
Being part of the Volkswagen umbrella, after all, doesn’t render this news surprising. The Bentley SUV would ride on the same platform as the Touareg, Cayenne, Q7 and future Lamborghini SUV (maybe), and would be more than just a lifted Conti GT shooting brake (as awesome as that would be).
Expect to see the Bentley ute clogging the streets of Kensington at a rate of $230,000, against the Mercedes-Benz GLK and various Range Rovers. And don’t be offended if the first ten or twenty are earmarked by the Sultan of Brunei—after all, his Bentley Dominator (shown above) is due for an update.
[Source: Auto Motor und Sport]
We’ll give German Tuner Xenatec this much: their Maybach 57S Coupe is pretty sweet. But they’ve now released five Photoshop rendering of what they consider their “dream cars.” Thankfully these are just concepts, because quite frankly we’re not too sure about the styling.
Let’s start with their Aston Martin hatchback/crossover. The rear end looks like it was literally copy/pasted from the Mercedes-Benz R-Class and well, let’s just say that 007 isn’t the first thing that popped up in our minds. Aston Martin has always had the intrigue and sophistication that comes with the world’s coolest spy. A soccer mom conversion to the Vanquish is simply sacrilegious.
Next up is the BMW 6-Series sedan. This one isn’t absolutely horrible (and surely better than the Aston Martin), but you have to admit that is looks really odd. Sedans going to coupes – like the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class – is a smoother transition, but after seeing the 6-Series as BMWs coveted sports coupe, it’s hard to imagine seeing it stretched and sporting another pair of doors. It’s just not sporty at the end of the day, but hey, it could grow on us.
The most interesting one of the bunch that we think would actually work is the Porsche pick-up truck. It’s no surprise that trucks are highly successful in the North American market, and even the Japanese have captured their fair share of the market. So why not a high-end European truck? Now it’d probably be a funny sight to see a lifted Porsche pick-up truck sporting really tall tires and chrome wheels. But it wouldn’t be the worst we’ve seen in our days. And besides, if the Cayenne is just a Touareg underneath, then why not a Porsche based on VW’s new Amarok.
The remaining two are rather realistic. The Porsche 911 sedan actually works in its own right, especially since we’ve been staring point blank at photos of the Panamera over the last year. In fact it’s almost like Porsche has brainwashed us that a Porsche sedan works. We have to admit, we’d love to rock one of those 911 sedans that they’ve rendered up. It’s got a Mercedes-Benz CLS-esque styling to it, remains sporty (unlike the BMW 6-Series sedan) and all in all doesn’t look entirely out of place.
Lastly the Bentley SUV actually fits. Much like Porsche’s Cayenne, a Bentley SUV would be highly successful, in our opinion of course, in the luxury market. Bentleys are known to be fantastic daily-drivers, offering comfort and performance in a finely balanced package. The Flying Spur is a great family car for those that can afford it. So quite honestly out of all these concepts, the Bentley SUV is at the top of our list of actually being successful.
Oh, did we say lastly? There’s also a stretched Audi SUV in the mix. But we’re sure you’ll understand why we didn’t really share our thoughts on it. It’d be a nice rental when cruising down the Las Vegas strip on your bachelor party weekend; but other than that, is there really a reason?
We’ll be more curious to see if Xenatec pursues any of these projects on their own. They clearly have the capabilities of doing it, but we can’t imagine it would be a sound investment if all of it came out of their own bank account. But hey, maybe Bentley and Porsche are taking notice.
[Source: Auto Express]
GALLERY: Xenatec Dream Car Concepts