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Bentley SUV given green light by VW board

Tue, 05 Feb 2013 13:02:00 EST The "will they, won't they" saga over Bentley's SUV plans appears to finally be over. They will. That's according to the German business newspaper Handelsblatt, which is reporting that the controversial SUV will be built after receiving the go-ahead from Volkswagen's board.

Known internally as "Falcon," the still-unnamed Bentley SUV will be based on the EXP 9 Concept that received wildly mixed reviews at its 2012 Geneva Motor Show unveiling. Since the EXP 9's unveiling, there have been a steady stream of leaks and rumors suggesting that the bold-faced vehicle will get a redesign prior to going into production, but it remains unclear how different the final vehicle will look.

According to Automotive News, Bentley is itself stopping short of confirming the green-light report, though it does admit that the SUV's production outlook appears "very positive." Production will likely take place in Slovakia at a plant owned by parent Volkswagen.

Seen as a key part of Bentley's plan to expand its sales volumes, the SUV is expected to arrive within three years under V8 and possibly W12 power, just like the brand's volume Continental GT range. Said to start at a cost of some 200,000 euros – over $270,000 US – the Bentley will stare down a suddenly crowded segment of luxury utility vehicles, taking on newcomers like the Maserati Levante and as-yet unnamed Lamborghini SUV along with segment stalwarts like the Land Rover Range Rover and Porsche Cayenne.

By Chris Paukert

See also: Bentley teases new Flying Spur before Geneva debut, Bentley announces Mulsanne upgrades to be shown in Geneva, 2014 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible runs topless through Motown.