A family of Bentley Bentaygas is being evaluated as the Crewe-based firm bids to capitalise on the runaway sales success of the luxury SUV.
Plans include launching a coupé-styled version of the car, a long-wheelbase version and possibly a limited-edition high-performance model in a similar vein to the Bentley Continental GT3-R.
Despite being one of the most controversial Bentleys ever launched, both as the firm’s first SUV and now its first diesel model, the Bentayga has been critically acclaimed and has exceeded sales expectations. The firm anticipated making 3600 Bentaygas in 2016 but will end the year having delivered around 5600 as a result of demand.
A plug-in hybrid Bentayga is due in 2018, while a coupé is expected to launch around 2019 if it gets Volkswagen Group board approval, coinciding with the facelift of the standard car and drawing fresh interest at a time many competitors will be launching in the sector. It will be broadly styled on the standard car and retain four doors but have a sloping roofline and be tuned to offer sharper dynamic and performance characteristics.
“I’m confident that it will happen and our team is working on the case for this car, but it is not yet approved for production,” said Bentley CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer. “We are the first in the luxury SUV space and at the moment unopposed, but there are lots of rivals coming to the sector. The question we need to answer is if there is space for all these different bodystyles.”
An extended-wheelbase Bentayga is believed already to be in development, following the sales success of the Mulsanne EWB model. “In the Middle East and China it is almost exclusively what we sell,” said Dürheimer. “Those markets have shown what is possible and it makes business sense; the engineering is not rocket science, but it is expensive because when you change components like the side panels and roof you add a lot of cost.”
Bentley’s head of engineering, Rolf Frech, revealed that a highly tuned Bentayga Speed was under consideration, but stressed that it would only be a limited-edition model. Potential rivals would include the high-performance Range Rover Sport SVR.
“If we have enough people who want the car, and they are new to the brand rather than people who will choose this Bentley rather than another one, then we will consider it,” said Frech. “The Continental GT3-R was limited to 300 cars and looked really extreme and performed well, and already it is a collectors’ car, so there is interest,” he said.
However, Frech also stressed that such a car could not impinge on Bentley’s traditional values of luxury. “We can make dynamically focused cars that are extreme, but only for very special occasions,” he said. “They cannot impinge on Bentley’s core DNA.”