Sam Bisby from Stoneacre Specialist discusses two manufacturers who are looking to take the fight to Porsche, BMW and others’ big car dominance.
It seems these days, every manufacturer needs an SUV in its ranks – and for good reason.
The demand for such a class of car is higher than ever, especially in US and Chinese markets, and as a result, more and more marques are introducing a sports utility vehicle into their line-ups.
The next two years will see a plethora of SUVs being revealed and released by numerous firms, with such manufacturers as Alfa Romeo, SEAT, Audi (yes, another) and even Maserati all with new larger cars in the pipeline.
However, there are two other companies with upcoming SUVs that might add new dimensions to the domain; one whose model could have it well and truly competing on all levels with its rivals and another who would be entering completely new territory for such a marque.
As the likes of Audi and BMW find mass success with models such as the Q5 and X3, Jaguar has been holding off on adding its own competitor into the mix.
However, it did feel somewhat inevitable that there would be a big cat to challenge its peers, and sure enough, the 2013 Frankfurt motor show saw Jaguar unveil the C-X17 concept.
Jaguar can be forgiven for not releasing a mid-sized SUV sooner, with potential fears that a model of this type could cannibalise Range Rover Evoque sales, but it seems with growing demand, Jaguar could not hold off any longer.
The C-X17 is a massive investment for Jaguar who has spent a considerable amount of time and money to create the new scalable aluminium iQ[AI] architecture that will also be used for the brand new XE saloon.
The 3-Series rival and the C-X17 are key to Jaguar exponentially increasing its sales output over the coming years and mark a renewed push to fully challenge its German contemporaries.
On first inspection, the C-X17 has similar lines to an Evoque, but recent test car sightings assure us that the SUV will have its own face and personality and not look to join in with the Range Rover branding. Cues from Jaguar’s range are evident all around the model, with the front taking plenty of inspiration from the XJ, while its prominent haunches mirror those of the F-type’s.
However, the car will share a new batch of engines with selected RR models entitled Ingenium and will consist of new turbocharged four-cylinder units powered by either petrol or diesel. These engines will see their first run out in the new XE, while the F-type’s V6 will also be utilised in the C-X17 to enhance the sporty experience.
An entry price of around £30,000-35,000 is expected to placed upon the C-X17 to make the SUV able to compete in a market of Q5s and X3s as best it can.
At the other end of the scale, Bentley is ready to try something a bit radical and break new ground in entering the realm of the SUV.
No one outside of Bentley knows what the model will be called, but we are aware of the fact that being a child company of Volkswagen, the Crewe-based firm will have the advantage of the Audi Q7’s underpinnings, but will be built at the company’s British base rather than alongside its donor in Bratislava.
It’s nearly three years since we saw, what was for many, a questionable concept at the 2012 Geneva motor show. As a result of the reaction from the so called EXP 9 F, Bentley has now changed the car’s design at the front and now has a familiar resemblance to the sportier Continental GT, albeit on a much larger scale. Some have also noted its similarities to the Porsche Cayenne, which of course is another VW Group model, after spy shots of the SUV were taken at the Nürburgring.
It is expected the Bentley SUV will feature both the flagship 6.0-litre W12 and the 4.0 twin-turbo V8, but the new model will also become the marque’s first car to make use of a petrol-electric powertrain. Not too much is known about the hybrid unit, but Bentley CEO Wolfgang Schreiber sees it as a great fit for an SUV.
We will have a plug-in powertrain, but it needs to be more than the existing systems – with more power, more torque. The SUV will get it first; you won’t see it on our existing cars because it’s too expensive.
The firm’s chief also admitted the company is exploring a diesel option for the SUV as “it will fit into the platform, so would make sense to do it.” A potential growth in sales across Europe is another reason, of course, with the next-gen Q7’s 4.2-litre diesel V8 a possible candidate.
Bentley’s Crewe HQ will benefit from £800 million of investment over the coming years which will see its model range grow even further and create 1,000 new jobs in the process. The SUV already has 2,000 pre-orders, a car that has of yet no price, no name and no definite styling; so, things are already in place to get rather busy in Cheshire.