Bentley SUV teaser

Bentley insists that customers responded positively, but journalists weren't particularly enamored with the EXP 9 F concept when it was unveiled two years ago at the Geneva Motor Show. And so it went back to the drawing board, honing the design to make it more pleasing to the eye.

The production model won't hit the road until 2016, but at its annual shareholders meeting today in London, the British automaker revealed the first image of the finished design - or at least the front end, which was arguably the most controversial element of the design in the first place.

The rendering, as you can see above, is highly stylized and obscured by flying sand (as many customer examples are likely to be in the dunes of the Middle East). But from what we can see, it appears that Bentley has moved the secondary headlights from below the primary ones to beside them. It's hard to tell, but it appears that their place on the edges of the front bumper have been replaced by air vents, giving it an altogether Continental-like front end. The shape of the grille, hood, fenders and greenhouse otherwise appear similar to the EXP 9 F we've already seen, though the air dam appears taller than the concept's.

There's still plenty more we'll need to know about Bentley's first production SUV (not counting those bespoke models it made for the Sultan of Brunei) before the first of the 3,000 examples it expects to sell annually reach showrooms, but there's still plenty of time to go, as well. Crewe still has yet to announce the name, but the F in the EXP 9 F moniker that adorned the concept was said to stand for Falcon.
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FIRST GLIMPSE OF BENTLEY SUV

(Crewe/London, 19 March 2014) Bentley Motors today releases the first picture of the Bentley SUV, due to hit roads in 2016.

It will be the most luxurious and powerful SUV on the market, setting it apart from any other SUV, true to the brand hallmarks of luxury, performance, quality and craftsmanship.

Dr Wolfgang Schreiber, Chairman and Chief Executive at Bentley Motors, commenting at a press conference in London, said: "It will create a completely new segment in the SUV market."

The SUV forms part of Bentley's £800 million investment in new model and facilities development in the next three years. The company anticipates a minimum annual sales volume of 3000 SUVs.