Bentley has admitted to that the styling of its controversial EXP 9 F Geneva Motor Show car is just one of several designs under consideration.
The dramatically styled SUV, which Bentley says will become the world’s most expensive off-roader on the market, is to undergo a worldwide tour following the Geneva show, to gauge customer reaction to its looks.
It will travel to the Beijing Motor Show next month and will also privatively be shown to loyal Bentley customers in separate viewings too, as Bentley weighs up reaction to the imposing new SUV.
The firm also admitted it will gauge reaction on social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook.
“This is a research programme that will see us look about this design and alternative designs,” said Product Marketing Manager Marcus Abbott.
“We have two questions – ‘should we do it’ and, if so, ‘what should it look like. The strong reaction to the former appears to strongly say we should – so now, we need to look at design alternatives.”
Bentley customers will play a big part in shaping how the new premium SUV looks, explained Abbott. “There is a marked difference between general public opinion and what our customers want. Customers say they like the upright, command-like stance, and want us to make sure it has real presence.
“We need to make sure this is retained as we work to ensure the proportions are right. It is a matter of looking at it afresh, taking key Bentley styling features and interpreting them.”
The next step in the process is to get approval for the model but, even if this quickly followed, a production model would not arrive before 2015.
Approval does seem likely though: a spokesman admitted there was a strong business case for the new Bentley SUV, sitting above the Range Rover in the $250,000-plus marketplace.
“Many Bentley customers already own SUVs, as part of a multi-car fleet. There is clear demand from them for us to offer them a Bentley solution in this marketplace.”