Prince of SUVS needs title
THE name game is under way for a new British royal firstborn— Bentley is looking for a heritage moniker for its first SUV, the most important vehicle in generations for the upper-crust brand.
It has just got the final goahead for the first familyfocused crossover, which was previewed in 2012 as the EXP 9 F. The SUV will go on sale at the end of 2015.
The experimental code name will go— Bentley will want an imperious new name to stand alongside the Continental, Mulsanne and Flying Spur.
‘‘ It will have a name. Absolutely. Is that name decided yet? No. Is there a process for deciding that name? Yes,’’ Bentley spokesman Robin Peel tells Carsguide on a visit to Australia with brand ambassador Andy Green, holder of the World Land Speed Record.
Peel says Bentley will delve into the archives for potential choices from the brand’s earlier days. ‘‘ EXP 9 F— that’s not a sexy name, but as a concept you had to give it something that’s at least recognisable,’’ he says.
The 9 F toured the world as a tease for a new direction for Bentley and got an overwhelmingly positive response, despite the ugliness of its front end.
It’s a predictable outcome, similar to the Lamborghini Urus, which was also revealed as a motor show tease before getting a production go-ahead.
Bentley and Lamborghini are part of the giant Volkswagen Group and their new SUVs will use the same mechanical package, as will the next Porsche Cayenne.
The SUV is expected to more than double Bentley’s annual sales— just as the Cayenne did when Porsche joined the SUV hordes— although sales were already up by 22 per cent last year at 8510 deliveries worldwide.
At Bentley’s factory at Crewe in England, also the home of Rolls-Royce, more than $1 billion will be spent on production facilities and there will be 1000 extra jobs.
Bentley has only given the barest outline (literally, a line drawing) of what the production SUV will look like but is touting the newcomer as the world’s most powerful and expensive SUV. It says the styling will be ‘‘ changed considerably’’ from the 9 F, no surprise since the nose was voted worst in show no matter where it appeared.
The Bentley SUV is likely to cost $250,000-plus in Australia, matched by a top speed beyond 250km/h.
Everybody say WO: Bentley’s SUV must have a high-born name to stand with Continental, Mulsanne, Arnage . . .