John Paul Gregory, a veteran of the Volkswagen Group now into his eighth year with the Bentley brand, will report to design director Stefan Sielaff.
Gregory's appointment is just the latest move to fill a hole left by Hyundai, of all brands. His own predecessor, Sang Yup Lee, along with Sielaff's predecessor Luc Donckerwolke, both left Bentley to work on the Korean car maker's new Genesis marque.
Donckerwolke himself was made Bentley design director in 2012, succeeding Dirk van Braeckel who oversaw not only the popular Continental GT, but also the controversial EXP 9 F concept that was later transformed into the new Bentayga SUV.
(Dirk van Braeckel has since moved to stablemate brand Audi, where he works as head of design quality and motor sport design. The EXP 9 F remains the most recent vehicle design credited to him.)
The story comes full circle, here: van Braeckel may have been responsible for the EXP 9 F project, but it's Gregory's signature that adorns the original concept sketches (below).
Still, as the comments show on our Bentayga v EXP 9 F: Styling Face-off article, the big SUV concept may have been judged too harshly when it first appeared. And, with the well-received EXP 10 Speed 6 concept also to his credit, Gregory's design vision shows promise.
“John Paul’s experience at Bentley is invaluable. He brings a passion for the brand and a deep understanding of the direction we wish to go in," Sielaff said of Gregory.
"This is an important time for the company as we look ahead to new models with John Paul, alongside our highly-skilled design team, bringing many insights and ideas to inspire the next great Bentley."
As the head of exterior design for Bentley, 'JP' will be tasked with pushing the British brand forward without shedding too much of its iconic look.
As the EXP 9 F showed, Bentley buyers, fans - and detractors - will be watching closely.