Bentley could use a diesel engine for the first time in its history in the SUV which was recently confirmed for production – but will not try to challenge Range Rover for ultimate luxury off-road prowess.
‘We will investigate a diesel engine,’ CEO Dr. Wolfgang Schreiber confirmed at Frankfurt. ‘In that platform (the Bentley will share its underpinnings with the Porsche Cayenne, Audi Q7 and VW Touareg) a diesel engine will be implemented, anyway, so it could make sense. The numbers in Europe could be very high.’
Bentley is forecasting global sales of around 3000 a year for its first SUV, although Schreiber believes this could be an under-estimate.
‘It has a completely new interior and exterior to the concept car you saw at Geneva in 2012,’ he said. ‘We will not be fighting against anybody else in the market. We want to launch the first real luxury SUV and think there is space in the market for us.’
Schreiber said the Bentley will have permanent four-wheel drive and more off-road capability than any of its current cars, but will not compete with the Range Rover. ‘It will not be a real hard off-roader. But many Bentley owners have a horse or a big boat, so it will have the best towing capacity. This will be the first Bentley with a tow hook.’ A spacious boot with good access and special pull-out features are also likely to feature on the car, he hinted.
The Bentley SUV is to be built at the company’s Crewe home rather than in Bratislava alongside the Cayenne, Q7 and Touareg. It is a real feather in the cap for the Crewe workforce.
‘We really had to fight to get the car to Crewe,’ admitted Schreiber. ‘There were two major aspects which convinced the [VW Group] board members. The first was that Crewe is the place for Britishness and Bentleyness and craftsmanship. The other is that Crewe and the UK became more competitive compared to the other options. It all came together.’