Does Bentley Need an SUV?

[cars name="Bentley"] chairman Franz-Josef Paefgen has gone on record saying that “Bentley does not need an SUV–it would be counterproductive for our brand image.” But there is no question that Bentley will continue to expand–from more than 6000 units last year to at least 12,000 annually–and Bentley’s Volkswagen overlords have asked Paefgen to consider a crossover. Such a vehicle, the Germans maintain, could be positioned as an Allroad by Bentley, but Paefgen is unconvinced.

If VW prevails and a Bentley crossover comes to market, it would likely be based on the next VW Touareg// platform and powered by the same twin-turbo, 6.0-liter W-12 already stuffed into the Continental GT and the Flying Spur–in which case, 550 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque aren’t out of the question. VW’s SUV already has been fitted with the W-12, albeit in normally aspirated form, in the Touareg Sport. A 500-unit run of the maximum Touareg has nearly sold out, further bolstering VW’s hopes for a high-powered people mover from Bentley’s factory in Crewe. (Although the Sport didn’t come here, it has been quite popular in the Middle East.)

In the meantime, the 550-hp Arnage S, the Arnage Drophead Coup, and the Continental GT convertible all are on track for the 2006-07 timeframe, while VW mulls the possibility of a new, entry-level Bentley slotted below the Conti at about $100,000. So far, Paefgen is not interested in that scenario, either.

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