Bentley is ‘deeply involved’ in a design and engineering project to launch a super-luxury £150,000 SUV by 2014, according to new boss Wolfgang Durheimer.

Work on the vital new model is centred at Crewe where design chief Dirk van Braeckel and engineering boss Uli Eichhorn are masterminding the project with Durheimer.

"I have great faith in the SUV market and it’s here to stay" says Durheimer, who counts the launch of the Porsche Cayenne during his tenure at Weissach as "one of my proudest achievements".

The SUV will have hallmark Bentley styling and a luxury wood and leather interior that will place it above the Range Rover in terms of perceived quality. Coincidentally, the market launch is likely to overlap with that of Aston Martin’s promised Lagonda 4x4.

The platform of Bentley’s new SUV is still to be decided, although there are strong indications it will be a version of VW Group’s new MLB modular underpinning for in-line mounted engines and probably share componentry with the next-gen Audi Q7.

Significantly Durheimer was a key figure in the early platform engineering of the MLB while at Porsche.

Durheimer is also a supporter of Bentley adopting a diesel for the first time. In the new SUV that’s likely to mean a version of the immense Audi V12 TDi, an engine that’s desperately looking for an appropriate car to show its real worth.

Durheimer reckons that 1000Nm (738lb ft) is the required torque figure for the stately and luxurious SUV, a figure that would ensure effortless performance in the mould of Bentley’s saloons and coupes.

A W12 petrol would also be offered for markets where diesels aren’t so popular.

The final go-ahead for Bentley’s SUV is still awaited from the VW Board, although the company is confident that the project will get the green light.

Steve Cropley

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