The introduction of Bentley’s novel SUV, has rather been a controversial one. After receiving somewhat dire response at the Geneva debut, the British carmaker’s design head suggested they were going for a redesign. He later rubbished all the reports, announcing that the EXP 9F Concept SUV will be making it into production virtually unchanged. How’s that for the EXP 9F’s critics? What comes as a bigger surprise, is that Bentley wants to make a debut in the Dakar Rally and they are taking the EXP 9F along.
According to Car Magazine, Bentley will enter the Dakar with a full-blooded race version of the SUV, following the launch of production variant. This would probably heat up the launch of a seriously controversial SUV. For this, Bentley is buying the Touaregs from privateer teams, which Volkswagen sold after it withdrew entry from Rally to concentrate on Polo Cup WRC.
Since the Touareg is based on Volkswagen’s MSB platform, that also underpins the upcoming SUVs – Lambo Urus and Porsche Macan, which is also the future platform for the Bentley EXP 9F, it is ideal for testing the SUV. There is no word if the purpose-built race machines will sport the Touareg powerplant or feature one of its own, since it has not yet received green lights for production. However, it is clear by now, that the styling of the upcoming Bentley SUV will remain more or less same.
The 2011 rally-spec Touareg drew power from a twin-turbo 2.5-litre inline-five diesel unit pumping 300 hp. Whereas, when the EXP 9F makes it to production, the power plant options included are a twin-turbo 6L W12 unit and a twin-turbo 4L V8. For the later models, Bentley may also offer a supercharged V6 plug-in hybrid. Though the introduction of the EXP 9F has been surrounded by rumors, we’d be pleased to see the Bentley’s first SUV in flesh.