Prince of SUVS needs ti­tle

Herald Sun - Motoring - - On the Web - PAUL GOVER CHIEF RE­PORTER IN GENEVA paul.gover@cars­

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 . . .

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