Soft road less travelled
Bentley chief is confident his luxury SUV will succeed
in Croatia this week.
‘‘ I have been working on this project for eight months,’’ he says.
‘‘ The longer I dive into this, the more confident I get that this is the right decision.
‘‘ There is no SUV in the Bentley segment. There is nothing above the ($250,000) Porsche Cayenne Turbo S.
‘‘ A car which contains the quality, luxury and craftsmanship that Bentley stands for does not exist. A slice of a big cake is possible for us.’’
The German cites Porsche as proof. ‘‘ When we proposed the Cayenne, the dealers said we were crazy. Our clients said, ‘ We drive sports cars, we don’t need an SUV.’ Even the media told us we were crazy.
‘‘ We have sold 50,000 units of the SUV without hurting the sports car business.’’
Nothing approaching that volume is mooted for Bentley, but Duerheimer suggests an SUV will push the marque toward 20,000 annual sales overall.
He says the marque’s entry car would be a version of the Continental GT coupe with a bespoke version of Audi’s new twin turbo V8. The SUV, at least in part, would be derived from much humbler models.
VW’s Touareg, Audi’sQ7 and the Cayenne have such commonality they are assembled on the same Slovakian production line.
‘‘ We will not do everything from scratch,’’ Duerheimer says. ‘‘ We are in the lucky situation where Bentley can access all the technology in the group.
‘‘ I have design models. Our assessment shows we have a completely new approach to SUVs in the group.’’
Upper crust: Bentley’s SUV would sit well above current luxury soft-roaders