High-performance version of Bentley's first SUV spotted undergoing testing. Bentayga is due on sale in 2016 for a starting price upwards of £130,000
1 September 2015

Bentley is preparing a high-performance version of its forthcoming Bentayga, judging by these spy pictures of a more extreme version of the company's first SUV.

We've already seen lots of spy shots and 'leaked' official testing pictures of the Bentayga. But now a new version of the car has been caught on camera. It features a different front bumper incorporating larger air intakes and a lower air splitter, plus a small spoiler mounted at the top of the hatchback and more aggressive side skirts. Our photographers also reported that the car sounded considerably more aggressive than other test mules - a sign that it features a more sporty exhaust set-up.  

Bentley has already released a teaser video for the Bentayga, ahead of the car's public debut at September's Frankfurt motor show.

The footage was shot during high-altitude off-road testing in Spain. It shows the car undergoing low-speed manoeuvres on rocky terrain - although the test mule does not appear to have shed any of the mild disguise that remained in the most recent spy shots. You can watch the video below.

Those spy pictures, taken during hot weather testing in Death Valley, showed the car with a less disguised front.

The round headlights were still camouflaged but the rest of the front was totally undisguised. These pictures were the first time that all air intakes in the front bumper were on show.

2016 Bentley Bentayga: passenger ride

2016 Bentley Bentayga: eight key rivals it must beat

The spy pictures reveal that the production Bentayga will bear little resemblance to the EXP 9 F concept, after that car divided opinion at its 2012 Geneva motor show debut. The Bentayga is due to go on sale early next year and is claimed to combine "pinnacle luxury and performance". 

The new "ultra-luxury" SUV is now in its final test phase, Bentley chairman and CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer recently told Autocar, and the model will come in W12, V8 and plug-in hybrid guises.

He revealed that the hybrid would be capable of covering 30 miles on battery power alone, to cope with future zero-emissions legislation in cities. "This will be a very luxurious model," he said, "but it will also be very fast and very capable." Hybrid versions of the Bentayga are expected to follow around a year after the launch of conventional models.

Bentley has previously revealed the luxurious cabin of the upcoming Bentayga SUV in a video.

The video revealed that the Bentayga will come with a touch-sensitive driving mode selector, which also incorporates the engine's starter button. The driver's display has also been shown, revealing that - in this early depiction at least - the Bentayga's speedometer ends at 320km/h (200mph). That could prove relevant, as from the early stages Bentley bosses were said to have set an ambitous 200mph top speed target for the SUV. 

An advanced night-view assistance package is also showcased as part of the video, as well as a multi-function instrument cluster display that appears to be configurable by the driver.

The Bentayga's unusual name comes from the Roque Bentayga, a dramatically rugged mountain landscape on Gran Canaria in the Atlantic. Initial speculation suggested the model might take the 'Falcon' name.

The Bentayga was previewed by the EXP 9 F concept car at the 2012 Geneva motor show, although rumours of the SUV project go as far back as 2011. Confirmation that Bentley would build the model came in July last year as part of an £800 million investment in the firm's Crewe headquarters.

The final design, which has been aerodynamically optimised to ensure stability at high speeds, is said to have an overall width of around two metres. 

Last summer, Bentley design chief Luc Donckerwolke revealed that the production car's shape had been signed off, saying: "The concept is completely set apart and was done separately. After Geneva 2012, I was told to do a new one. It's completely different from the concept car.

"The concept was only intended to pose the question, 'Can we do a Bentley SUV?', rather than showing a production car. I started with new parameters and a clean sheet [of paper]." Indeed, Donckerwolke has never seen the EXP 9 F concept in person.

From the outset, Bentley officials are understood to have targeted the car towards emerging but profitable markets such as China and Russia.

Reviewing results of the company's fifth straight record year, which show a 9% increase in sales to 11,020 cars, 87% of which were exported, Dürheimer also hinted at a smaller Bentley SUV model in the future. He said he had great enthusiasm for the SUV market, which was "expanding three times faster than the market as a whole".

Previous predictions of annual sales of 3000 for the full-size SUV "could be conservative", said Dürheimer, who is working towards building 20,000 cars a year at Crewe by 2020. The company says it already has 4000 serious "expressions of interest" in the big SUV, which is yet to be seen by customers. The starting price of the Bentayga is likely to be around £130,000.

Initially, it was understood that Bentley would look to build the SUV in Bratislava, Slovakia, if production at Crewe could not be confirmed.

To reach its aggressive production targets, Bentley will spend £280m this year on building a new R&D centre, across the road from its traditional Pyms Lane site, and plans to add 300 new jobs to its workforce, making 1300 in all. By 2016, total expenditure to ensure that capacity at Crewe "is no longer an issue" will amount to £840 million, Dürheimer said.

See footage of the Bentley Bentayga testing in the video below:

Get the latest car news, reviews and galleries from Autocar direct to your inbox every week. Enter your email address below:

Join the debate

Comments
41

289

12 January 2015
....Bentley Cheshire would be more fitting...or Bentley Premier League!

12 January 2015
or the 'Bentley Alderley Edge'

19 May 2015
'Bentley London Taxi' is better.

12 January 2015
Bentley, by Teagan.

12 January 2015
Bentayga or F-Space.

11 March 2015
owenmahamilton wrote:
Bentayga or F-Space.
Following on from F-Space I did wonder if a more fitting name for this Bentley and its target audience might be A-Hole.

12 January 2015
Gran Canaria? Why didn't they just call it Bentley Marbella? Unless of course the word means something else in China, like big privates, then it will sell like hot cakes.

12 January 2015
How about Benanbill.....tribute to the flowerpot men.

12 January 2015
I thought the name sounds like a species of fat aquatic pig. Which would be apt.

13 January 2015
one page of comments, and not just repeat the first page of posts? How hard can it be?

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    31 August 2015
    Thought the 3 Series was losing its edge? Well it's back, with a facelifted version that offers improved performance and dynamics. Does it reclaim its top spot after our drive on UK roads?
  • First Drive
    27 August 2015
    BMW gives its flagship 7 Series an extensive overhaul in a bid to tempt buyers of luxury cars away from the Mercedes S-Class, Audi's A8 and the Jaguar XJ
  • First Drive
    26 August 2015
    New Qashqai rival majors on practicality and usability and benefits from a long warranty, but lower-specification versions are the better bet
  • First Drive
    26 August 2015
    Go-faster Bentley Continental feels effortlessly quick despite its considerable weight
  • Car review
    26 August 2015
    Can the new S-Max retain its title as the driver's seven-seater?