For more than a year, car buffs have been salivating over the idea of a Bentley SUV, and as the 2016 release date approaches, German car spies have captured the latest and most revealing picture of the 6.0-liter, 12-cylinder four-seater.
Britain’s Bentley Motors Ltd., owned by German automaker Volkswagen AG (FRA:VOW), is stepping into the luxury SUV market late in the game, but it’s hoping that its first-ever SUV will be a hit despite a likely hefty price tag. Luxury cars come with higher profit margins because wealthy car owners will pay more for the status and tend to pile on options. They help automakers like Volkswagen grow profits that can then help them produce more affordable cars for a wider audience.
The EXP 9 F, which was first revealed as a concept car in Geneva in 2012, will become Bentley’s fourth production model after the Continental GT grand tourer, its four-door variant the Flying Spur, and the Mulsanne luxury sedan. Bentley has said it hopes to deliver about 3,000 of these SUVs annually, which would represent almost a third of the 95-year-old Crewe, U.K.-based automaker’s 2013 sales volume and a fifth of its planned 15,000 sales by 2018. Bentley was acquired by Volkswagen in 1998.
The newly released image, which can be seen here, shows a more toned-down fascia. Though the image still shows some efforts to hide the external design elements, it appears that Bentley is backing off those giant headlight and foglight pits seen in the concept version, pictured above from the Beijing Auto Show in 2012. Bentley hasn’t disclosed when the vehicle will be available in 2016, nor the price tag. The company has suggested that the car will be available in a more environmentally fit V6 plug-in hybrid.
A little EXP 9 F trivia: The “F” stands for “Falcon,” because Bentley likens its upcoming SUV to the speed and agility of a type of falcon that can reach speeds of up to 186 mph on aerial dives to capture prey.