Soft road less trav­elled

Bent­ley chief is con­fi­dent his lux­ury SUV will suc­ceed

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige -

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

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