The legendary Ettore Bugatti once famously (and derisively) referred to Bentley cars as "the world's fastest lorries" – the British term for heavy trucks. Fast-forward a few decades and Ettore's proclamation is edging toward the truth, as the British brand is rumored to be launching its first-ever SUV – at least in conceptual form – at next week's Geneva Motor Show.

The model – which would expand the Bentley range from two models to three – is earmarked by Bentley/Bugatti Chief Exec Wolfgang Dürheimer (pictured at left with his predecessor, Dr. Franz-Josef Paefgen) to account for some 3,500 to 5,000 units annually, or a total of about 25,000 units in the vehicle's lifecycle. But the SUV from Crewe isn't just about expanding sales figures, it's also about innovation, as the model is rumored to incorporate what would not only be the company's first hybrid propulsion system, but a plug-in one at that, relegating the engine (which you can bet will still be Bentley big) to also-ran status.

We're eagerly anticipating the results when we get to the Geneva Palexpo, but while the show car is expected to be a concept still several years away from production, one thing's for sure: Bentley won't be alone in jumping from high-end cars to SUVs. It's a path forged by its sister company Porsche (where Dürheimer long served as a senior executive) with the Cayenne, set to be followed by sister marque Lamborghini with a concept car at the Beijing Auto Show in April (not to mention its original SUV, the LM002), and currently being pursued by rival Maserati with the Kubang now being groomed for production.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      Because, you know, the rich bastards with enough money for a Bentley are really concerned about fuel prices. Let me know when I can get a plug-in electric for $20k all-said-and-done with battery that will last half a decade.
        • 3 Years Ago
        According to a Bentley spokesperson environmental impact is more serious to Bentley owners now. Supposedly that is why there is a V8 Continental now.
      • 3 Years Ago
      lol who cares about Bentley? Definitely not a mover and shaker in the automotive world. "Hey guys we invented a new way to waste money while getting your anus groomed in our new seats!"
      • 3 Years Ago
      Do people in the market for a Bentley care about it being a plug-in hybrid? To people in the market for a Bentley SUV care any moreso?
      • 3 Years Ago
      Plug in hybrid? SUV? I guess it would cater to Arabs and Chinese (75% of high end luxury sales, or something) and line Bentley pockets with cash to fund more Contis and Mulsannes, but it is really a saddening form of brand dilution. I doubt there is a huge market for $200,000 SUVs, and being a subsidary of moneybags VW, they wont be in dire need of a cash cow. But a specialty, niche brand should have an ethos, and stick to it. Lamborghini: outrageous super cars. Bentley and Maserati: Specialty luxury cars. Porsche: Sports cars, although they kind of needed the Cayenne as they were not too long ago independent of VW. Just because new people would buy it and you make a dime, doesnt make it right. It is ok for a plebian, mainstream manufacturer to place sales as the bottom line, but not something with a rich history of specialization and single purpose to grab at the latest trend just because they can. /rant
      • 3 Years Ago
      If I am buying a Bentley I don't care how much gas costs.
      • 3 Years Ago
      could look like this...