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Bentley SUV to go on sale in 2016


gallery Bentley SUVThe name game is underway for a new British baby - but it's not the new Royal. Bentley has started the search for the name it will apply to the most important car in generations, its first SUV.

The top-drawer British brand has just had the final go-ahead for its first family-focussed crossover which was previously previewed in 2012 as the EXP 9F, ahead of sales in the final months of 2015.

The jumble of letters and numbers - which reflect the cars place in the experimental line at Bentley - will definitely be going and there will be a new name to sit it alongside the Continental, Mulsanne and Flying Spur.

"It will have a name. Asobultey. Yes," the spokesman for Bentley Motors, Robin Peel, confirms today to Carsguide as he wraps a downunder visit with brand ambassador Andy Green, holder of the World Land Speed Record. "Is that name decided yet? No.

"Is there a process for deciding that name? Yes." Peel says Bentley will be looking into the archives for potential choices from the brand's earlier days but is giving no hints on the final outcome, beyond ruling out EXP 9F.

"That's not a sexy name, but as a concept you had to give it something that's at least recognisable." The 9F toured the world as a tease for a new direction for Bentley and got an overwhelmingly positive response, despite the ugliness of its front end.

It's a similarly predictable outcome to the Lamborghini Urus, which was also revealed as a motor show tease before getting a production go-ahead. Ironically, both Bentley and Lamborghini are part of the giant Volkswagen Group and their new SUVs will sit over the same mechanical package, which will also run under the next Porsche Cayenne.

Peel refuses to be drawn on exact timing for the Bentley SUV but says it will be public sometime in 2015. "For me to say it's the end of 2015 or the start of 2016, we don't actually know. That's the working timetable," he says.

The SUV is expected to more than double Bentley's annual sales - just as the Cayenne did when Porsche joined the SUV hordes - although sales were already up by 22 per cent in 2012 at 8510 deliveries worldwide.

It will bring an employment boost at Bentley's factory at Crewe in England - the traditional home, also, of Rolls-Royce - with more than $1 billion to be spend on extra production facilities and the employment of an extra 1000 workers. Bentley has only given the barest outline of the SUV in its first official picture of the production car, but is touting the newcomer as the world's most powerful and expensive SUV.

It says the styling will be "changed considerably" from the 9F, no surprise since the nose was voted as worst in show anywhere it appeared. The Bentley SUV - whatever it's finally called - is likely to have a pricetag beyond $250,000 in Australia, matched by a top speed beyond 250km/h.

This reporter is onTwitter: @paulwardgover