LONDON -- Bentley today released a teaser picture of its upcoming SUV, saying the vehicle's design has been revised from the EXP 9 F concept it unveiled at the 2012 Geneva auto show.
"The design has changed from the side, rear and roof. It's completely changed," Bentley CEO Wolfgang Schreiber told journalists at an event in London.
Critics said the EXP 9 F's large grille and air intakes were ugly and unsuited to an elegant British luxury brand.
"Many customers and also media said an SUV was a good idea, but not everybody was happy with the design of that time," Schreiber said today. "This car will meet the expectations of our customers much better than two years ago."
The new model, which has at least 2,000 advance orders, is part of an 800 million-pound ($1.33 billion) investment in new vehicles and facilities over the next three years, Bentley said. "It will create a completely new segment in the SUV market," Schreiber said. "It will be the most luxurious and powerful SUV."
The vehicle may encounter competition from BMW's Rolls-Royce unit. Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes said in a Jan. 9 interview that the brand is considering whether an SUV would fit into its line-up.
The Bentley SUV is due to be launched in 2016. It is key to the brand’s goal to increase annual global sales to 15,000 vehicles by 2018 from a record 10,120 last year.