May 27 2014, 6:14pm CDT | by Forbes
As you can see in the film above, the car promises to look like very much like a traditional Bentley–tall gleaming grille; rounded headlamps; a wide, powerful stance–but beefed up a bit for SUV status. This is the most we’ve seen of the latest angle Bentley is taking with the car since it released a shot of its tentative production model last March.
It makes sense that the Crewe, England-based automaker would add an SUV to its range: SUV-loving North America is Bentley’s largest sales region, with 3,140 cars delivered there last year, and its second biggest market, China, has much of the same bigger-is-better mentality when it comes to buying luxury cars. (Bentley sold 2,191 cars in China last year, a number expected to rise as it introduces larger vehicles into the fleet.)
Indeed, luxury automakers like Porsche, Lamborghini and Maserati have all toyed with and/or turned to the idea of making a premium big rig. But Bentley chief Wolfgang Schreiber says that if consumers want a “real” luxury SUV, they’ll have to wait until Bentley makes one.
“If you look at the different SUVs on the market today, you don’t really see a luxury SUV, you see high options,” Schreiber said earlier this year at the Detroit Auto Show. “Premium SUVs like Porsche or maybe Range Rover are there, but a real luxury SUV you can’t buy.”
Schreiber called the new model, which he has already driven, powerfully and aesthetically different in almost every way from the concept we saw in Geneva in 2012.
The 95-year-old company will start production with a range of engine options including a plug-in hybrid variant by 2017. While the concept was called the EXP-9, Bentley has yet to announce a formal name.
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