Please indulge me a little for this month’s entry, which is entirely driven by a sense of dismay and a wavering of my deep and genuine delight in the Bentley brand.
Every billionaire wants a luxurious, supercar-fast SUV to add to their collection of fine motorcars. Allow me, then, to introduce the ultra-opulent SUV concept from Bentley. It is supposed to demonstrate the future of luxury SUV’s. With the exquisite attention to interior detail one expects from Bentley, including an über-expensive cutlery set in the split and electrically folding tailgate, this SUV is designed to move its occupants around in unassailable luxury.
Whilst it may be the largest and most expensive SUV in the world, it’s also the ugliest. It won’t be as good off-road as Range Rover, nor will it be as sporty on-road as a Cayenne. So, one has to ask, what’s the point?
Bentley believes they can sell 3,500 SUV’s a year, that’s double the current manufacturing output of Crewe, and in doing so, maintain sales which, at this end of the car market, is cyclical.
Unlike mass-volume manufacturers, Bentley’s sales are not driven by a continual stream of new models or derivations thereof. As the hype surrounding the new Mulsanne and the GTC diminishes, so will the sales of those models. Adding an SUV to the model line-up will protect existing models in exactly the same way the Cayenne did to Porsche.
Whatever your opinion on the new SUV concept from Bentley – and there are a lot of people who don’t want this to be built – one has to consider for a moment the resilience and foresight of Bentley Chairman, Wolfgang Durheimer, who ten years ago took a lot of criticism for the Porsche Cayenne. With the power of hindsight, he was right. It is, therefore, possible that he is right that Bentley should create something far more magnificent than any SUV that has gone before.
When the competition is as good looking and competent as the Range Rover, and as quick as the Cayenne, the Bentley SUV will have to be more than a huge, unattractive, four-wheeled advert for the wealth of its owner.