After almost 100 years of producing luxury tourers, Bentley is about to roar off-road.
Today it launches its first 4×4 vehicle – with a top speed of 185mph unlikely to be required on country tracks.
A rival to the Range Rover and Porsche Cayenne, it will go on sale from 2015 at around £140,000.
Premiership footballers are an obvious target while it is hoped that the Royal Family, who already have a number of bespoke Bentleys in their fleet, will invest in the ultimate ‘Chelsea tractor’.
A prototype of the giant off-roader will be one of the stars of this year’s Geneva Motor Show, where it goes on official display today.
Initial production will be around 3,500 a year with the U.S., China and Germany among the key markets outside the UK.
Under the bonnet is a twin-turbo six-litre W12 engine with an eight-speed transmission which delivers 0 to 60mph in less than five seconds.
But Crewe-based Bentley, owned since 1998 by Volkswagen, says a more frugal four-litre V8 or even a more eco-friendly ‘hybrid’ engine could also power the car.
The production version, codenamed EXP 9F, will be the third model in the Bentley stable, alongside the Mulsanne and Continental ranges.
There is an armrest divider on the rear seat which lifts to reveal a cooled compartment for champagne and glasses.
Seats are covered in diamond-quilted soft-touch leather, echoing the traditional appearance of a British field sport jacket.
Bentley is even considering a new furniture line created by its wood and leather craftsmen for customers who want to have their home room match their car.
Rear passengers can chose between ‘business mode’ with a fold-down keyboard and full internet connection, or select a more reclined position with powered footrest, drinks table and an entertainment and information screen.
There is a split tailgate covered in tough saddle leather which folds down to be used as a viewing bench or picnic table.
Bespoke picnic hampers are stowed to either side and can be swung across on interior rails for easy access.