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Frankfurt: Buyers clamouring for £160K Bentley SUV

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Customer demand for the Bentley Bentayga SUV has far outstripped the brand’s expectations, with CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer describing the pre-order intake as “sensational.”

The first year’s production of the new model, which Bentley says creates a new market sector in the luxury SUV, is already sold out.

Costing from £160,000, the Bentayga will add in the region of 3,000 cars a year to Bentley’s volume, according to industry sources.

Unveiling the Bentayga at the Frankfurt show and describing the event as “a defining day of a great brand,” Dürheimer says that Bentley has created a completely new luxury SUV segment; “We could offer customers an unexpected answer to an already well-developed market – the world’s first luxury SUV.”

His views appear well founded, as while the Bentayga has been in development since before the unveiling of the controversial EXP 9F concept at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, other manufacturers, notably the likes of Rolls-Royce and Lamborghini, have also confirmed SUV development programmes since, aiming to attract customers looking for luxury above the most expensive versions of the Range Rover, until now the most upmarket SUV.

The Bentayga has undergone the most comprehensive development programme in Bentley’s history, being tested in widely varying environments including South Africa, the UK, the Arctic Circle, the Middle East and Arizona.

As a result, according to Dürheimer, the company is confident the Bentayga will offer a genuine Bentley driving experience in any environment. “Its combination of go-anywhere ability and everyday usability means that luxury no longer has to stop when the road does,” he says.

The launch Bentayga is powered by an all-new Crewe-built 12-cylinder TSI petrol engine, with 598bhp and 664lbft of torque, giving it a 4.1-second 0-62mph time and a maximum speed of 187mph.

According to Bentley sales and marketing director Kevin Rose, the car also boasts “the finest interior in the world”, based around 15 separate wood pieces and 16 leather hides.

He adds that the car is the most “technically advanced luxury SUV,” but adds; “new technology should complement, not overpower the trademark Bentley character – so the driver can with one sweep choose from eight modes to select the perfect dynamic setup for any surface, or road condition.”

Debutant technology in the Bentayga includes Bentley Dynamic Ride, an electronic active road control system adjusting instantly to cornering inputs to offer what Rose promises is class-leading stability and ride comfort and exceptional handling.

1509_Bentley_Bentayga_06

He also highlights the most comprehensive accessory/option range Bentley has ever offered. Standing out among the extras are a leather-trimmed folding event seat integrated into the tailgate, a picnic set in fine-bone china and crystal in a Mulliner case, and a Breitling car clock with a mother-of-pearl face trimmed with diamonds and white gold.

Building the Bentayga has seen what Dürheimer describes as the largest investment in Bentley’s history, £840m poured into the company’s Crewe, Cheshire facility creating 1,500 new jobs.

He also adds that Bentley is looking forward to future competition from other luxury brands developing SUVs; “Our appetite for competition is one of the reasons Bentley goes motor racing – no other car manufacturer combines luxury and performance the way we do.”

This comment could back up industry rumours that Bentley is working on an even more powerful Bentayga Speed variant. Diesel and plug-in hybrid powertrains are also under development.

The latest from The Car Expert

Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is a road test editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.