The 2016 UK-built Bentley SUV is set to break new ground for the British brand on a number of fronts. Its CEO, Wolfgang Schreiber, has dropped the biggest hint yet that it will be the first Bentley to use a diesel engine, and the first model to feature plug-in hybrid technology from 2017 onwards.
“We are definitely investigating a diesel engine. It will fit anyway into the platform we are using, so it could make sense to do it,” Schreiber said. “Sales in Europe for a car like that could be very high, and for relatively little investment on our part.” The most likely candidate is an updated 4.2-litre V8 diesel shared with the next-generation Audi Q7 (due in 2014), a car it will share its lightweight aluminium construction with.
Schrieber also sees plug-in technology as a fit for the SUV. “We will have a plug-in powertrain, but it needs to be more than the existing systems – with more power, more torque,” Schreiber confirmed. “The SUV will get it first, you won’t see it in our existing cars because its too expensive, but by 2017 the SUV will get it.”
Schreiber shied away from calling his SUV a direct rival for the Range Rover though, claiming it will have “all-wheel drive, better ground clearance and more capability than the current cars, but won’t be a hardcore off-roader.” Instead his focus will be on fitting lifestyle-specific accessories like a tow hook and built in cabinets in the boot. As for the car’s design, it will “look sportier with a lower roofline,” and has been “completely redesigned inside and out.”
Bentley is aiming to sell 3,000 SUVs globally per year, although Schreiber admits if things go well the number could be significantly higher than initial estimates.