The upcoming Bentley SUV has started testing on UK roads ahead of going on sale in 2016, with Autocar reader Richard Crossley catching this latest test mule on home soil.
Changes compared to previous development cars are small, but new chrome detailing around the large front grille can be clearly seen. Company bosses have already revealed the car's styling has been finalised, with Bentley design boss Luc Donckerwolke saying it will have no relation to the original EXP 9 F concept car.
The SUV is likely to cost from around £140,000 when it arrives in showrooms. Company boss Wolfgang Dürheimer has previously said the model would start where other luxury SUVs, like the Range Rover, finish. Officials have also targeted a top speed of 200mph for the car's launch.
The main feature of the new SUV is its large, prominent front mesh front grille. Oval headlight clusters can also be seen alongside large dual air vents lower down on the front bumper. Those air intakes will be vitally important in keeping the SUV's 6.0-litre twin-turbocharged W12 engine cool.
Large light clusters can also be seen at the rear, alongside prominent rear-end styling and large oval-shaped dual exhausts.
Also revealed on previous test mules is the new car's interior, which features a large digital dashboard similar to that seen on the new Audi TT. As well as the main digital instrument display, a large central infotainment screen should also be offered running bespoke navigation software.
One of the major engineering jobs on the new Bentley will be evaluating aerodynamic performance, engine cooling and tyre longevity at the planned 200mph top speed, which Autocar understands was written into the technical specification last year. The air suspension, for example, will have to be controlled electrically to lower itself automatically as speed increases.
The SUV should help to push Bentley's overall sales volume beyond the current 15,000 models per year. Dürheimer has also previously said Bentley has plans for two new model lines following the launch of the SUV.
Among the big rivals for the Bentley's 4x4 will be Rolls-Royce's new SUV, which is planned to launch a year later in 2017. Set to cost more than £200,000, the model has been described as "a kind of Mercedes GLK-plus plus" by insiders, and will be aimed at the kind of successful, young entrepreneurs found in the growing Chinese market.
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