With the new Bentley Bentayga SUV expected to become the most popular model in the British brand’s lineup, the company has dismissed concerns that it will become SUV-oriented.
Bentley sold more than 10,000 cars worldwide in 2015, making it the third year in a row that it has passed the 10k mark. Even so, with more than 5000 Bentayga SUVs expected to be produced in 2016 alone, that number is set to increase substantially.
Speaking to CarAdvice this week at the launch of the Bentayga in California, USA, Rolf Berch, Bentley’s boss of engineering, said that despite the overfilled order book for its new SUV, the brand will remain true to its core.
“No, I don’t think so.” Berch said about the brand’s risk of turning into an SUV maker.
“I think, for us, with these other models like the Mulsanne, Flying Spur, but also with the Continental GT, we offer really interesting cars for our customers and really, real Bentleys, so I am not afraid that it moves in that direction [of SUV-oriented manufacturing]…”
Berch believes that with the coming successors to its other models, the balance of sales will again shift to normality.
“In the end, when we come with the next generation of Continental, Flying Spur, etcetera, I think it will balance it out again.”
Berch, who came to Bentley after more than 20 years at Porsche as its director of the complete vehicle engineering group, admits that some of the risk factor was already tried and tested with the German brand first.
Berch says that, unlike Porsche, which had to introduce the Cayenne SUV in order to survive and be able to fund its other models, Bentley is merely attempting to meet customer demand.
“It’s not about the funding. If you look into the garages of our customers, where they have normally five to seven cars, that’s their average, there is in every garage of every customer one or two SUVs, so therefore it was not to find funding for the rest of the cars, but just to meet the expectations of our customers.
The Bentley Bentayga, which arrives in April from a starting price of $420,000, has already sold out of its allocation in Australia for 2016, with the market demand of about 100 of the super-luxury SUVs stripping current supply.