Volkswagen-owned luxury carmaker Bentley has the green light to produce its controversial sports utility vehicle (SUV), according to a report in leading German business newspaper Handelsblatt.
Bentley chairman and chief executive Wolfgang Schreiber is yet to officially confirm the decision. But two weeks ago, he gave an update on the project and began to quietly backpedal on the outrageous look of the EXP 9 F concept, which will provide the base for the new model.
The EXP 9 F was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2012 and has been widely criticised for its awkward looks – especially as it could potentially be one of the most expensive SUVs in the world.
In his update on the project, Mr Schreiber hinted that a substantial redesign would be undertaken for any possible production version, bringing it more into line with Bentley’s established models.
There’s a new man for that job. Bentley appointed a new chief designer, Luc Donckerwolke, in September 2012. He was formerly head of advanced design for Volkswagen Group.
So the new SUV will look very different to the current concept and it will certainly gain a more elegant name. That is also yet to be announced, although it’s known that the ‘F’ stands for Falcon.
The production version of the EXP 9 F will be based on a new platform that will be shared with the next-generation Volkswagen Touareg and Audi Q7.
It will compete with the new Range Rover and Maserati’s forthcoming Levante, another new super-luxury SUV going into production around the same time, in 2014.
The EXP 9 F and Levante will both be the first-ever SUVs for their respective makers.
The Bentley is expected to become the biggest selling model worldwide for the brand. The marque grew 22% in 2012, with 8510 cars delivered to customers.