News : Bentley confirms UK production for new SUV

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Bentley SUV

Bentley Motors has confirmed that its new SUV will be built in Crewe and will go on sale in 2016. The big news is that the arrival of the new luxury off-roader will create over 1000 jobs at the company’s factory, which will receive more than £800 million’s worth of investment.

Bentley confirmed its interest in the luxury SUV sector at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, when it unveiled the EXP 9 F concept (below) – a bluff-looking, but extraordinarily well-trimmed SUV. It wasn’t universally loved for its styling, but the Range Rover rival makes sense for a company so reliant on China and the Middle East for its sales – and vehicles such as this prove popular.

The new SUV will not share the front-end styling of the EXP 9 F but will share much of its underpinnings with the fellow Volkswagen Group big hitters, the Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne/Volkswagen Toureg. With the L405 series Range Rover moving upwards in terms of market position and price, these two cars will probably end up being direct rivals.

Volkswagen Group Chairman Dr Martin Winterkorn said: ‘The Volkswagen Group believes in the UK as a competitive location for industrial production. Bentley fans all around the world are looking forward to the brand’s first SUV. Together we will make this new Bentley another true Bentley – powerful, exclusive and successful.’

Bentley’s Chairman and Chief Executive, Dr Wolfgang Schreiber, added: ‘This is excellent news for Bentley and for the UK. Bentley is increasingly successful and this new fourth model line will leverage the success of the global SUV market. The support of everyone involved with the company has been fundamental to this decision, which will ensure sustainable growth for the company.’

The company described the new SUV as, ‘a thoroughbred Bentley true to the brand hallmarks of luxury, performance, quality and craftsmanship.’ It will certainly be imposing and, barring one-off specials, should be the market’s most ostentatious SUV yet.

Bentley EXP 9 F (6)

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

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55 Comments

  1. Looks like they’ve found a replacement for the TX4.

    Good news for Crewe, Premiership footballers and major drug dealers.

    To me it’s a little vulgar, but then SUVs are what sells.

  2. The EXP 9 F was a truely awful looking SUV, which was even worse than the original Porsche Cayenne and the SangYong Musso.

    Please go back to the drawing board before 2016, Bentley, and do not make the same mistake. Or else I will likely mistake it for some elaborate Chinese fake designed by those who have no idea about design cohesion or elegance.

  3. Didn’t Ettore Bugatti accuse Bentley of making the world’s fastest lorries?
    Now there’s an idea: a Veyron SUV. Why not? They’ve only spun 4 marques off this chassis now..

  4. Good news! The SUV is not my cup of tea but don’t forget successful comopanies make products for which there is a good market.

    Bentley are responding to a demand.

  5. Well forgive me for zero enthusiasm. Quickly transform a brand from discreet,dignified opulance to stupid Rapper, football cokehead car in a generation.

  6. Thousand new jobs. £800m investment in the UK. Not to be sniffed at.

    May I also refer you back to my comment in the MINI thread. Besides, this car is aimed primarily at Chinese and Middle Eastern markes – not ‘cokeheads’, as you assert.

  7. It’s great news in terms of job creation and investment, but I still don’t like the idea of Bentley, Jaguar, Rolls Royce or Maserati SUVs. I recall there were similar reservations about the Cayenne when it first came out, but since then it has become Porsche’s best selling vehicle ever.

    China and the Middle East are growing markets, and it makes sense to build cars to meet their needs, no matter how garish they may look or how tacky the concept may be. Dollars rule at the end of the day.

  8. @10,My assertion was not about this particular horror but the brand in general. The old Turbo R was superb,times change i know.

    These cars are now bespoiled by footballers and rap artists and are turned into gold wheeled or god knows what else crass statements of said peoples wealth.That saddens me.

    Nobody could ‘do’ Rolls or Bentley,the wood the hide or the craftsmanship,now the germans own Bentley its looking like they are loosing their way with the cars.

    More and more the S Class is looking the better car,discreet,tasteful and understated-far less likely to end up “customised”

  9. Another success story for UK industry….bring it on!

    You do just wonder though, when will this SUV fad die out?
    At the moment, I can see even Caterham bringing out an SUV.
    (Badge engineered Renault Koleus anyone?)

    only joking.

  10. I wish it was brutish GT car which would fit better with the Bentley heritage. But if this what we have to build to make money these days and so be it.

  11. Great news for the UK economy.

    The EXP 9 is, however, very ugly! Also, the whole SUV thing don’t really appeal to me. Rather than graceful luxury, style the SUV shouts excess. Something driven by a footballer rather than a car enthusiast.

  12. @17, But why sell your soul and your grannies knickers-which it seems Bentley are doing who says this is the way forward? Just stick bentley badges on a toerag and have done. Limo companies seem to get away with the “Baby Bentley” bollocks on a 300C!

    Rejoice! £800 million is invested and will save the British economy,no. It will create jobs and its a excellent investment and i applaud the faith the parent has in the workforce here.

    I know im sounding like a killjoy but im not,im just worried the whole heritage of this brand is being squandered on a crass moneyspinner like this.
    Cant they think of something else that would rewrite the rule book?

  13. Agree with most comments. Hardly a car I would aspire to own, or indeed be seen in. But then I’m not a 21 year old Chinese Billionaire – The people this car is aimed squarely at. This months CAR magazine takes a new Flying Spur to China – because thats the market that influenced its development and the message from every propspective buyer they spoke to was that their dream car would be a Bentley SUV. Now if Bentley was a British Motor manufacturer of the old school they would ignore this and say, No we build cars for British People with beards – even though their are only enough of them to keep the production lines rolling until Tuesday morning. Then they would sit back until the receivers arrived then roll up at 10 Downing Street with their hands held out. Fortunately 21st Century Bentley and Rolls Royce and JLR arnt like that any more.

  14. “Grotesque” doesn’t quite do justice to the hideous EXP 9 F, although a production version would no doubt be quite the ride. I personally don’t get the SUV thing. I like my tasteful, traditional, well-trimmed saloons (the Rover 75 being my exemplary in the face of insufficient funds to buy and run an Arnage), but I’m sure that if Bentley executes it well an SUV will sell like hotcakes to royalty and footballers. Furthermore, who can argue with the investment and jobs?

  15. I dont have a beard,and i shave my balls. I sometimes belt them with the Yellow Pages while singing the national anthem in the hope that i dont read more out of their depth beard stupidness.

  16. It is an ugly, awful car, so are all these high end SUVs. Still it will generate jobs here, and Bentley can’t help it if rich people are stupid and have no taste.

  17. Its all well and good chasing new money….while it lasts. Meanwhile the damage has been done to the brand values and loyalists to the marque may have second thoughts and give Bentley a miss.What happens then?

    Its ok thinking jobs and money,after all money is all anyone cares about along with all the toys,but thinking 20 years ahead where will Bentley be?

  18. Not a car I’m ever likely to own, so it’s easy to say I don’t like it. The phrase is ‘unacceptable face of capitalism’ probably applies! But then its creating 1000 new jobs, and that’s worth more than any opinion of its styling or its market position.

  19. A totally unnecessary design and n insult to the brand I am sure WO would turn in his grave, look all around Cont coupes are everywhere some blinged up driven by all and sundry sadly with todays culture everything becomes diluted and extended and seemingly affordable and available to just about all.
    Even now I bet there are some money no object familys with mummys planning to out do others “Chelsea Tractors” at the school gates
    Bring back the 60s and 70s…..my opinion

  20. Is it just me or is there some Austin 3 Litre in the design. Lets hope it’s more of a commercial success.

  21. @simon_hodgetts

    I agree with your comments.

    Maybe I’ve got rose tinted spectacles, but when I grew up, interesting cars were everywhere. SUVs were something builders used to go off road onto site fields.

    These days car manufacturers have a range of 2 box tortoise-shaped hatchbacks at one end, and a range of SUV tanks at the other.

    Want a family car? SUV.
    Coupe? SUV.
    Small tall car? SUV.

  22. In fairness to Bentley, the photo is of the concept car and because of the poor reaction to the styling of it, it is being revised to a design intimated by the sketch.
    It is good news for Crewe and it’s UK suppliers. Production very nearly went to the plant that makes the Toerag / Cayenne.

  23. Guys, Bentley have already built SU Vehicles; the specials for the Sultan of Brunei…

    Saved them from collapse…

  24. “Of the 1,000 jobs to be created, 400 will be directly employed by Bentley at Crewe, with the balance generated in the supply chain”. 600 in the supply chain in the UK seems wildly overoptimistic…

  25. The Sultan of Brunei Bentley SUV was built on a Range Rover chassis.

    From the side it is a weird cross of Range Rover proportions with slightly off detailing ending up looking like a Metrocab.

    The front again looks like a mix of Range Rover and Bentley Arnage

  26. @ Kieth Adams

    Open to correction, but my understanding is that it will share a platform with the Taureg/Q7/Cayenne.

  27. @15 Caterham are reported as planning to make an SUV with Alpine/Renault…

    @34 not impossible since low volume/high feature can mean labour intensive

    One reason Bentley may be doing an SUV is because the roads in its home county of Cheshire, especially around its target market of Wilmslow, are in such poor repair!

    BTW, Yema are showing a new SUV (little sign of Maestro/Montego underpinnings) – wonder how long it will take them to copy the Bentley…

  28. @23, francis brett,

    Your comments tickled me, sir!

    @30, Mark,

    I knew I’d seen that glasshouse before on a British car but couldn’t put my finger on what it was (for some reason I don’t see many 3 Litres out and about). It really says a lot about the paucity of imagination in the design offices of Bentley (and Rolls Royce are as bad), that the Austin 3 Litre styling looks eminently better resolved than this Bunterley.

    Ok, so its 1000 jobs (allegedly)- about the same number that a major supermarket signs up when they open a couple of superstores (although after the opening the staff numbers are pruned down pretty swiftly- they tend to over recruit initially as it helps gain planning permission and generates good copy in the local press).

  29. @38,Always my pleasure squire!

    On the jobs front,nobody in their right mind would criticise the creation of jobs unless it involved MGUK,which for reasons only known to those sickens me.

    But lets not reduce the debate down to jobs all the time eh?
    if all we ever do is “oh well it has created x amount of jobs” there is no point even bothering to post a comment.

    The jobs, the money and all the rest of the tripe when it boils down to it has nothing whatsoever to do with what most people on here are supposed to be passionate about-all things cars.

    Im very wary about what politicians tell me and salesmen,is it a thousand jobs or around a thousand? Permanant or agency? And its not 2016 yet.

    This proposed car looks hideous,as bad as a Pontiac Aztec in looks. Wetherthis car sell in droves or falls flat on its face i will feel sad that this Brand-the maker of the ‘silent car’ is going to make this thing on either a bespoke or bastard child of some VAG platform and desecrate its rich history and heritage.

  30. @19
    Lets not get carried away with Bentley Heritage, until VW picked it up from Vickers it was nothing but a badge stuck on a warmed up Rolls Royce since it all went tits up in the 1930’s.

    Yes i would like to see it return to building big brutish supercars like the old Aston Martin Vantage V8 of the 70’s and early 80’s and not reskilnned VW / Audis for footballers. But the market now for such cars is not the European Jet Set but those who have made a quick buck in China and Russia as property prices go through the roof.

    They have a different car culture, they do not have the same culture of motorsport of old europe, cars are much more a status symbol, a fashion item. If you have been stuck in a massive Moscow traffic jam and their awful road planning, you understand why they have no concept of driving for pleasure of driving.

  31. I do not live in Moscow or have i driven in moscow therefore i couldnt give a toss,regardless of your brief waftings through wikipedia pages, or the antecedence of the companies financial set backs,it still made superbly crafted vehicles not just the blowers or the coach builts.
    What happens to this company when those markets dry up?

    Regardless of what points anyone makes about this car,it is horrid. So lets keep it to the dumb common denominator- it sells to crass upstart rich boys and feeds the parent in Germany.

  32. @42
    Thankfully for the employees of Bentley the management of Audi don’t give a toss about what you think.

    Before Audi stepped in the business had reached the end of the road and would almost certainly not been here today along with Rolls Royce cars if it had not been bought up by Audi and or BMW.

  33. I think the parent company is doing well enough out of the Toerag, Cayanne and Q7, why oh why are they even starting to think about this? they have no need for it.

    It will hopfully bomb rapidly, or the SUV fad will die soon leaving the market to Land Rover (who build the best anyway). Everyone knows that any SUV that is not an LR or Toyota is just a crass statement of wealth so it won’t count for anything with anyone that matters.

    Unfortunatly it proably won’t, however the good news is we won’t see them other than heading to the docks on trucks. In china your position is dispalyed by the size of your car, and thats who will be buying them, however it looks like thier economy is slowing down (as seen by the recent fall in scrap metal values)

  34. @43, The company was doing quiet well before VAG thankyou very much, although the order book was hit by the tarted up 7 sereis that was the Seraph (A HUGE mistake people who bought a rolls in those days wanted a Rolls not a BMW with RR superglued on the front) but the order book was still full with Owners for every car being built

    What was sickening and still is, is that no one british would invest in it.

  35. This is great news. It would of been ridiculous to of built it anywhere but the UK. If they hadn’t, Bentley would of lost its cache as an elite BRITSH mark.
    That said I don’t like the designs I’ve seen to date, it somehow looks ungainly especially next to the RR but the SUV market is growing massively and not to take advantage of it would be to stay still. VW have been good owners of Bentley and invested heavily from a badge and a grill on a car to real motors once again. Yes its a pity that the British motor industry went into chaos and no British motor company could take it on realistically but we ended with 2 companies and sets of jobs and factories with companies that had the money and expertise to invest.
    British engineer Al Melling put in a bid but was out trumped, there was no way he could of invested the money VW and BMW have and we could of ended up with an MG Rover scenario with the company in the hands of lift and shift operators. Roll Royce would of become Rolls Royce UK with headquaters in Shanghai but Hey they could of fitted the wheels and bumpers in the UK and then claimed it to be a British car and company.

  36. For anyone on a restricted budget with no need to tow trailers or drive on unmade roads an SUV doesn’t make much sense, but drive a recent Range Rover or Range Rover Sport and you’ll appreciate the “command” driving position and the ease of positioning the vehicle in traffic. I can easily see why VW-Audi see the need for such a vehicle and applaud their decision to make it in Crewe, rather than with the Touareg and Cayenne at their plant in Leipzig. The company that’s really going to devalue a once proud name are rumoured to be building a Maserati SUV at a Jeep factory in Toledo, Ohio.

  37. @46, A major reason no british company stepped in is because the industry and industry in general was so depleted, venture capital houses, asset strippers and PLC’s cared not one bit for this or any other british company.

    UK PLC? where? all the utilities are foriegn owned and myriad other businesses,whetever is left isnt worth mithering about.

    Everyone should be grateful for VAG investing circa £2 Billion so far,but that isnt the issue, this car isnt right for the marque.

  38. #47 I can understand “commanding driving position” but is “positioning in traffic” a reference to 4x4drivers bullying and intimidation tactics of other motorists and pedestrians by the sheer bulk of their vehicle?

  39. @49
    Aparently not, A C-class tried bulling me on the road a few years back, when I was driveing a range rover! I’d have thought he would have wanted to keep his shiney newish merc well away form my batterd and bruised looking K plate Rangie!

  40. @48 too right they care nothing which is in stark contrast to the Germans who have great pride and public backing for their companies and products. The country screwed up and the financial sharks went in. If you’ve ever dealt with receivers when you’re owed money you’ll understand how bad it can get in this country. It needs fixing.
    Only time will tell if an SUV is right for Bentley. Markets change all the time but its still an ungainly design much like the Lagonda SUV concept. They need to take a look at team McGoverns sketch pads……

  41. @51,I doff my cap to the Germans,their engineers even blue collar are held in the esteem one would impart upon a professor. We have some here,we have some excellent ones here.

    In Germany the country is awash with them,dont let the politicians here con you into thinking that they encourage the growth or rebirth of engineering here,sad really.

  42. **ck me, if this is what it has come to then the oil can’t run out soon enough.

    This thing has achieved the impossible and out-grossed that Audi Q horror!

  43. Listen – there! Listen again!
    The sound of W.O turning in his grave.
    I am genuinely pleased about the jobs and investment.
    Does the world (any part of it) need another SUV?
    Presumably this trading platform will include anything that makes money. For crying out loud don’t show Bentley one of those 3 wheel scooters!!!

  44. Good news for Crewe & Jobs etc but not a car I would aspire to buy… though I dont have a need for an SUV in any case. Don’t like the look of the BMW X6 either – huge heavy looking body with enormous wheels & tyres… urgh

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