With their first SUV already selling beyond their own estimations, Bentley is rightly proud of their Bentayga and seem to already be planning for a range expansion, kicking off with a plug-in hybrid version and perhaps even a coupe.
There had already been rumours about Bentley slotting in a twin-turbocharged V8 engine, perhaps the same 4.0-litre unit used in the Continental GT that could produce over 373kW if called up to the Bentayga. Perhaps the Crewe-based luxury automaker would choose a detuned version to be paired with an electric motor with battery reserves being able to be topped up at the plugs.
That’s purported to be due in 2018 following the release of the V8 diesel version powered by the Audi SQ7’s unique high performance TDI engine (two turbochargers, one electric supercharger) - Bentley’s first ever non-petrol vehicle - according to a report by Autocar UK, and could be accompanied by a long wheelbase version of the current bi-turbo W12-powered SUV.
However, while those powertrain options are all well and good, they aren’t as obtuse as the possibility of a Bentayga coupe hitting the streets. The Volkswagen Group board is still undecided on the matter, but should they grant their approval, it could launch by 2019 to coincide with the SUVs first mid-lifecycle facelift.
It will, however, remain immediately identifiable as a derivative of the original ‘normal’ Bentayga, retaining its four-door layout and only gaining a sloped roofline and sportier tuned to deliver sharper handling over the full-size SUV - think BMW X6 and Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe.
CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer, said: “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. 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 body styles.”
On that note, Dürheimer also seemed to be open to the possibility of competing in the more competitive sub-SUV market, offering a new vehicle that would slot in between a Porsche Cayenne and Porsche Macan where size is concerned, but only if there’s a strong market impetus to do so.
Right now, though, Bentley’s focus is to “…go bigger, not smaller,” and an Extended Wheelbase variant of the Bentayga is reported being prepped for imminent release to regions where they are preferred such as China and the Middle East, with EWB variants of cars such as the Mulsanne and Flying Spur selling in an overwhelming majority over their standard wheelbase brethren.