The new Bentley SUV is likely to be called the Falcon – that’s the word in the United States, which expects to sell around 1000 units a year from 2016.
But Ford might have something to say about its right to the name used on US models from 1960 until 1970, most of them forgettable. During that time variations of the Ford Falcon were built in Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile and Mexico.
Of course Falcons are still being built in Australia and are likely to be until 2016 – unless Ford shuts down its Melbourne manufacturing plants earlier, as has been deemed likely.
Could that be when Ford gives up the right to the name and Bentley launches the Falcon SUV, perhaps at the 2016 Paris motor show? Who knows? However it pans out, US motoring publications – including Automotive News – are trumpeting the Falcon name for the Bentley SUV and a price of $US190,000.
The lightly disguised prototype pictured here was caught testing in the French Alps by spy photographers from Automedia. The disguise looks like a mix of the Continental GT and the EXP 9 F concept Bentley unveiled at the 2012 Geneva motor show, but it does hide the SUV’s shape.
The so-called Falcon will share its platform with the Volkswagen Group’s next-generation Audi Q7 – also pictured here – and the Lamborghini Urus. Expect a digital instrument cluster and circular air vents at the top of the dashboard, along with plenty of wood trim and metallic accents, says Automedia.
Engines are expected to be the petrol-powered twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 and the company’s 6.0-litre W12. A hybrid will also be in the mix later in production. Annual production of the Bentley SUV is expected to be around 3000 units a year.
The VW Group has been working to shave weight off the new Audi Q7, like it did with the VW Touareg and Porsche Cayenne and like Jaguar Land Rover did with the new Range Rover.
But it is understood Audi engineers want to make the Q7 the lightest large SUV in the business, perhaps down in weight over the current model by more than 400kg.