By Matt Schmitz on March 25, 2014
After years of having to drop the tykes off at practice in a ho-hum Land Rover Range Rover, the long-neglected 1 percent soccer-mom demographic finally will have an SUV worthy of their socioeconomic status. Super-luxury English automaker Bentley has confirmed that its super-luxury ute will start dropping off child athletes in opulent fashion in 2016 and has released the first teaser image.
Bentley says SUV production will take place at its manufacturing plant in Crewe, United Kingdom, and is part of a $1.3 billion investment in new-model and facility development over the next three years. The company expects to sell about 3,000 SUVs a year.
We can't glean much from Bentley's image above, as the SUV is cloaked in a cloud of dust kicked up from desert terrain that the SUV is unlikely to ever actually encounter in the real world. And while it will certainly be toned down dramatically from the concept version, the EXP 9 F, which debuted at the 2012 Geneva International Motor Show, it's our best guide as far as what to expect. You might remember it as the one with the pop-up picnic area complete with awning, umbrella and champagne bucket — perfect for a drive in the English countryside on those weekends you just can't seem to get next on a pickup game of polo.
We earlier described the concept as a portlier version of the Continental, with Bentley's large traditional matrix grille up front and large 23-inch wheels resembling turbines and jet-engine-like taillights giving you a strong idea of where designers found their cues. Inside were assorted polished metals, including aluminum, bronze and gunmetal, a panoramic glass roof, reversible leather and silk wool floormats and diamond-quilted leather seats. The concept's other top-shelf features included "virtual instrumentation" with 3-D navigation, reclining rear seats with power footrests, internet connectivity and a cooled compartment for your sparkling whites and flutes. (What? It comes up.)
The concept was powered by a 6.0-liter W-12 engine making 600 horsepower. Bentley said the production model could also accommodate a twin-turbo V-8 and even a comparatively fuel-sipping hybrid powertrain — after all, unnecessary excess could be construed as overindulgent. Speaking of which, no word on price yet, but you know the saying, "If you have to ask … ."
News Editor Matt Schmitz is a veteran Chicago journalist indulging his curiosity for all things auto while helping to inform car shoppers. Email Matt