Ultra luxury brands beware, another one of your comrades is falling down the shame spiral and building a - gasp - SUV!
Sure that’s a little dramatic, but so are all of the people that are scoffing at the fact that Bentley has now confirmed a new SUV scheduled to hit their lineup sometime in 2015. If everyone remembers correctly, these are the same people that were horrified that Porsche decided to build the Cayenne and look how well that turned out for them. Now, with a 37% increase of sales in 2011 (to 7,003 vehicles sold), Bentley is looking to double this number by the time this new SUV comes out by making it "the world?s most luxurious 4x4" SUV and targeting growing SUV markets like the US and China. The "luxurious" title will also match the price; Bentley is stating that the starting price for their future SUV will be $140,000, making the $48,200 starting price of the Porsche Cayenne look like it belongs on a Kia Sportage.
So what constitutes the jumbo price tag? Other than the supposedly tremendous amount of luxury built into the future SUV, it has also been stated that it will be powered by the next generation W12 engine delivering up to 600 HP. For markets like Europe, Bentley will also offer a 6.0-liter V12 TDI engine with an output of about 500 HP. Rumors of V8 and plug-in hybrid alternatives for future model years have also been discussed.
Bentley is taking a big step with its improving sales by giving an SUV a chance to flourish. Does the world need a strong competitor for the Porsche Cayenne? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean that high-end customers with deep pockets won’t be writing out checks for a chance to wallow in the luxurious nature promised by Bentley.
UPDATE 08/24/2012: The word "big" won’t just be used to describe the future Bentley SUV’s engine anymore as Bentley CEO Wolfgang Durheimer has stated that potential customers of the luxury SUV would like to see a third row option added. Interior designers for the model have stated that the third row option isn’t for the children, but for the au pair to have a place to sit during family trips. If Bentley approves, which is a strong possibility, this would mean that the production model would need to be bigger than the concept, so expect some dimensional changes to take place. Aside from that, the Bentley SUV should somewhat follow along the concept’s design, but with less dramatic lines, considering that a poll of potential buyers gave the SUV a 7 out of 10 rating for its design.
Another topic of discussion is the price for the future luxury SUV. In the same interview, Durheimer stated, "Currently you can’t spend more than 170,000 Euro on an SUV. We are going to solve that problem." We don’t know about anyone else, but we don’t really feel that is a problem. We don’t think people go car shopping and say, "You know what, I really want to buy a luxurious SUV, but there are just no options out there that are going to make a big enough dent in my wallet. I wish cars were more expensive." Slash the price on the future SUV and see how many more cars you can sell, Bentley. Then come and tell us that not having an expensive enough SUV is a problem. (Insideline)