The first-ever Bentley SUV will be launched in 2016 and our spy photographers have caught it testing in its production body for the first time.
These photos, taken near Salzburg in Austria, show the Bentley SUV in near production-ready form and practically undisguised. Prior to this, Bentley’s first high-rider has only been seen out on the open road underneath a modified Audi Q7 body.
Instead of using a psychedelic body wrap as many manufacturers do, Bentley has opted for plenty of black tape and just a few pieces of disguise. The most noticeable of these hide the definitive shape of the car’s front wings, rear haunches, rear window, taillights and boot lid.
Most of these items have already been revealed, if only briefly, in a teaser video released by the brand last month. The definitive look at the car’s front end was revealed in a digital image of it prancing through sand dunes.
The production SUV shares the same basic shape and design as the controversial EXP 9F concept car that debuted back at the 2012 Geneva motor show. Some elements, such as the headlights, wing mirrors and window graphics, have been altered since then.
When it enters production in 2016, the elevated Bentley will be powered by a 12-cylinder engine with between 430kW and 485kW of power at its beck and call.
In 2017 the company’s first SUV will become its first plug-in hybrid model too. The hybrid version will feature Bentley’s 6.75-litre twin-turbocharged V8 paired to at least one electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack. Bentley says this variant will have an electric-only drive range of 50km, while our estimates put power output at around 470kW and fuel economy at the 5.0L/100km mark.
It’s unknown at this stage what nameplate Bentley’s first SUV will wear. Early rumours had suggested it would be known as the Falcon, but Ford put the kibosh on those plans in 2012.