A fastback coupe SUV would be the ultimate status symbol.
Back in the era of Pimp My Ride and donked Chevy Impalas with overtaxed speakers buzzing apart from too much bass, the luxury SUV was a relatively new concept. Like a family tree that had just begun, the segment didn’t have too many branches splintering away from its core founders. Americans tired of fitting expanding their waistlines into Lincoln Town Cars had only a handful of options like the Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator, and Land Rover Range Rover.
As upscale as they seemed, the two American offerings were little more than spruced up versions of lower trim models. Both looked special, but as Richard Hammond famously pointed out during a review of the Escalade, the dashboard was made of plastic and the buttons were the same ones you’d find on a Chevrolet Tahoe. Even Land Rover had just begun to send interior decorators into its Range Rover to differentiate it as the off-road capable vehicle of choice for those who’ve made it in life. Meanwhile Bentley was breathing a sign of relief as the Continental GT rolled off the line and saved the brand from certain disaster. At the time, it was content with the high sales and the attention that the coupe was attracting.
It didn’t think much about messing around with SUVs. Flash forward to 2016, where almost every luxury brand, from Maserati to Lamborghini, is either breaking the age-old tradition of turning a blind eye to the SUV or at least considering the move. Bentley, currently riding a high horse from its success as one of the favorite brands of the successful, wasn’t satisfied. Like a true child of wealth, it pulled some strings from its parent company VW and got Audi to pass the Q7 platform up market so that its team in Crewe, England could slap handcrafted bits of wood, leather, and polished metal throughout the interior. The result is the Bentayga, a vehicle that amounts to a secured stream of profit for the British company and its injured German parent.
Given that the rest of the extreme luxury competitors like Rolls Royce are playing catch up, Bentley will have another opportunity to pat itself on the back in pride because the Bentayga will remain the top pick. But why sit content in one place when it’s possible to get ahead? With niche automobiles, imagination is the limit and there is plenty more that Bentley can dream up to assure its dominance for years to come. One mean is the recently proposed SUV version of the jaw-dropping EXP 10 Speed 6 concept car. It debuted at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show and ever since, gearheads and lovers of all things beautiful have been wondering if the big B was ever going to use it for anything.
Low and behold, CEO Wolfgang Duerheimer made a note that the concept may be used after all to inspire an SUV. As inconceivable as it seems, we think it’s a great idea. Think about it, Bentleys signify wealth and excess and there is little more that boldly proclaims, “I light my cigars with your months salary” than a two-door Bentley SUV. For one, it’s utterly useless. It goes without saying that the only time the four-wheel drive system will ever be used in such a vehicle is when us journalists get ahold of it, and the rest of the time it will spend its time shuttling between mansions and Channel stores within the 90210. Then, you have to think about the fact that this SUV would be a large version of a fastback coupe.
Many enthusiasts complain about how cars all look the same nowadays, but seeing a fastback SUV rumbling around with a quiet high output W12 and enough chrome to double as a lighthouse will make all of the wealthy who validate their existence by flaunting their superiority bite Bentley’s bait. Starting with low sales numbers and a high cost would be the proper way to ease the luxury car buying public into the new vehicle. This tactic maintains exclusivity, an important trait for the 1%. As Duerheimer mentioned when proposing the SUV, it's important to let the Bentayga settle into the market before the EXP 10 Speed 6 SUV is planned and built. For the time being it looks like the Bentayga will be a success and with any luck, so will the EXP 10 Speed 6 SUV.