Bentley has entered the SUV market, and it promises to “change the way the world looks at cars of this kind” with “the most luxurious and powerful” offering in the segment.
That sets up a battle between Bentley and Land Rover, which arguably makes the best SUV on the market: the Range Rover.
Pricing for the new Bentley hasn’t been announced yet, but we expect it to start for at least $US200,000 — making it more expensive than the absolutely top of the line, absurdly named Range Rover Long Wheelbase Autobiography Black limited edition with Valloire White paint ($199,500).
But Land Rover isn’t stressed, and it doesn’t intend to lose its position at the pinnacle of the market, Joe Eberhardt, president of Jaguar Land Rover North America said in an interview last week at the New York Auto Show.
“I don’t think necessarily we’ll react to particular competitive moves,” he told Business Insider. But that doesn’t mean the automaker will become complacent.
“We’ve worked decades of getting to that point and we’re not going to give up that position. So yeah, I’m not too worried about it,” Eberhardt said.
“We will continue to push Range Rover into the next level. We have just launched Autobiography, we have long wheelbase Range Rover, and I’m sure our team will come up with other innovative ideas for Range Rover that will help us stay at that position.”
Even in the luxury market, price isn’t what determines the top dog, Eberhardt argued. You can always find ways to make a car more expensive (see: Valloire White paint).
“It is the unique combination of luxury, design, and capability — that capability element is absolutely key — that I think sets us apart from anybody else out there,” he said.
The current Range Rover (which can be had for as little as $US84,195) is remarkably capable off-road, and sumptuously comfortable on paved surfaces. While Bentley has done good work in recent years making its cars more performance-oriented, it will be tough matching what Land Rover has done.
The Bentley SUV is due to hit the market in 2016, with a plug-in hybrid electric version to follow in 2017. We’ll have to wait until then to see if Eberhardt is overconfident, or if Land Rover will hold its position at the top.
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