Although we’ve already seen a teaser shot and video of the upcoming super-luxury Bentley SUV, spy photographers were able to acquire our first look at a prototype test car. From the looks of it, we can all let out a sigh of relief — it looks overwhelmingly better than the Bentley EXP 9 F concept first shown at the 2012 Geneva auto show.
Compared to the exaggerated EXP 9 F concept, this Bentley SUV looks like a more cohesive and finished production car. The horizontally arranged headlights lead into the large center grille, helping to accentuate the car’s width, whereas the concept version’s vertically stacked arrangement made it look substantially taller and more truck-like. Another major change can be seen in the wheels — sporty five-spoke units that are much more subtle than the chrome multi-spoke wheels we saw in Geneva. Around the rear, the larger and squarer taillights wrap around the rear hatch, while the dual exhaust tips retain their clean oval shape.
In general though, the overall shape over the forthcoming Bentley SUV is the same. While some of the more boxy body panels on the prototype are likely there to hide the true styling underneath, we can still see Bentley’s trademark matrix grille; a sculpted character line running from the rear doors to the trunk where it meets the D-pillar; and the large, sharply raked rear window with roof-mounted spoiler.
We have every reason to believe that the new Bentley SUV’s interior will exude every bit of quality and craftsmanship we’ve enjoyed in other Bentley models, but our spy shots provide only limited views of the cabin. It’s easy to make out the all-digital instrument cluster, which is lined in chrome to match the center stack and air vents.
Current power projections put the Bentley SUV in the same territory as the Bentley Flying Spur, as the SUV is slated to use the same W-12 engine that makes 616 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque in that application. Another engine possibility is the Flying Spur and Continental GT’s new twin-turbo V-8, which makes 500 hp and 488 lb-ft of torque. Down the line, the Bentley SUV could get a diesel engine shared with Porsche Cayenne Diesel S, while a plug-in hybrid is planned for 2017.
Starting at around $200,000, the super-luxury Bentley SUV is expected to arrive in showrooms by 2016.