Volkswagen AG board gives Bentley SUV production go-ahead

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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Last March at the Geneva auto show ultra-premium marque Bentley showed a prototype crossover SUV dubbed EXP 9 Concept, and it caused quite a stir amongst the brand's fans. Why some Bentley aficionados raised a fuss over the possibility of a crossover bearing the revered Flying B badge is anyone's guess, as the ones that would likely buy such a lavish rig are those that already have a Continental GT sport coupe or Mulsanne ultra-luxury sedan parked in their garages, which are more often found outside of Britain in upwardly mobile markets like China, Russia, the Middle East and of course still in downward spiraling economies like Continental Europe and the U.S.

And let's be real. Porsche, now Bentley's adopted sibling, has proven with its Cayenne SUV that having a crossover in the mix means profitability. It's a sink or swim scenario, and Volkswagen AG, both Bentley and Porsche's parent company, doesn't want its brands in the red.

Therefore, the VW AG board has reportedly given the go-ahead to produce something similar to the EXP 9 Concept, or so says German business newspaper Handelsblatt as reported by Automotive News. Just the same it should be noted that Bentley hasn't officially announced the new crossover, only stating in reports that the prospect of a new crossover SUV looks "very positive".

Bentley's codename for the project is "Falcon", but that's about as much as we know about it. Word has it that the EXP 9 Concept will be redesigned for production, and no doubt receive a new name that's more in keeping with Bentley tradition, even if a crossover isn't.

Something with "shooting brake" in the title might be more apropos, although it's really not a shooting brake which specifically refers to a two-door station wagon – Bentley has custom made a number of these over the years for royalty and VIP buyers, although the one that might most easily come to mind would be the one-off 2010 Continental Flying Star Shooting Brake made by coachbuilder Touring.

According to Automotive News, Bentley may cause at least as much controversy in where the new SUV will be produced than the vehicle itself as it won't hail from the brand's Crewe, England headquarters or even VW's Phaeton assembly plant in Dresden, Germany that previously built overflow Continental GTs, but rather a Volkswagen plant in Slovakia. Once again, any complaints will come from British car traditionalists and not those that will be putting real money down on the new SUV.

And what can we expect? It's quite possible Bentley will turn to parent company VW for a version of its proven Touareg platform architecture that also underpins the Porsche Cayenne, Audi Q7 and is expected to be used for an upcoming Lamborghini SUV to spiritually replace the outrageous LM002. To those that don't know about Lamborghini's off-roading past the thought of a 4x4 bearing the raging bull badge might be as outlandish as something similar coming from Bentley, but we should expect both in the near future, one taking care of ultra-luxury buyers and the other the super-performance crowd.

We can expect the Bentley crossover to start in the $250,000-plus range, which will make it the most expensive SUV anywhere; that is until VW AG green lights Lamborghini's SUV.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Crossover, SUV, Bentley, EXP 9 Concept, $99,999+,

Organizations: Volkswagen AG

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