Bentley SUV First Spyshots, Hiding as Audi Q7 Mule

Bentley SUV spied as Audi Q7 Mule 9 photos
Photo: Carpix
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It was early in the morning when the Audi Q7 test vehicle in the adjacent images crossed paths with our spy photographers. The German engineers are known to be currently testing the second-generation Q7, so there was nothing new to be seen there, right? Wrong. Last time we checked, the new Q7 was way past the test mule stage, with heavily camouflaged prototypes already roaming the world. Add the UK plates and you basically end up with a huge illuminated arrow pointing at the SUV and saying “Hi, I’m the Bentley SUV!”
Bentley has previously confirmed it would launch its SUV in 2016, so it was about time we met a test vehicle. When we talked to Bart Gerris, Bentley's Regional Director for Europe, the executive made a pretty clear point about the positioning of the SUV.

“We really don’t want to be arrogant, but we are launching a car in a segment that’s not there. Actually, there is no segment for us, we are developing our own segment with the Bentley SUV,” Bart told us.

In fact, Bentley already has about 2,000 pre-orders, in spite of the fact that neither the price, not the design of the vehicle have been made public. For the sake of information, we don’t even know its name yet!

The styling of the Bentley SUV is of particular interest here - when the carmaker introduced the EXP 9 F concept to preview the SUV at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, the design receive negative reactions from the public. Bentley subsequently announced they changed the styling, but didn’t show us the result.

Underneath the mysterious body, the vehicle will ride on the VW Group’s third-generation SUV platform, which means it won’t be a stranger to aluminium elements. This will be shared with vehicles such as the Lamborghini Urus and the aforementioned second-generation Audi Q7. Fret not, as the VW Group has previously shown us, each model will come with its owm implementation and the difference in terms of feel will be more than substantial. If you pay close attention, you'll notice that the tracks, wheels and brakes on the spied mule are more generous than what an actual Q7 has to offer.

As for the power department, we do expect the Bentley SUV to arrive with the carmaker’s twin-turbo V8 that was developed together with Audi, but the W12 engine shouldn’t be ruled out. Yes, we are really wondering what those fat air intakes up front are serving.

Nonetheless, the SUV will be the first (plug-in) hybrid Bentley, setting the course for a future line-up that will be flooded with petrol-electric power. Expect this move to take place in 2017.

Moreover, Bentley is currently considering diesel power for its SUV. Should this project receive the green light, the most likely candidate is a reworked version of Audi’s V8 TDI.

In case all this Bentley SUV talk has gotten under your skin, you could seek a job at Bentley, which is currently hiring to support the development of the vehicle. Good luck!
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About the author: Andrei Tutu
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In his quest to bring you the most impressive automotive creations, Andrei relies on learning as a superpower. There's quite a bit of room in the garage that is this aficionado's heart, so factory-condition classics and widebody contraptions with turbos poking through the hood can peacefully coexist.
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