Bentley is planning a world-beating 200mph top-speed for its forthcoming SUV, which will be seen next year before sales begin in 2016.

It is understood that Bentley’s redesign of its EXP 9 F concept, which is being undertaken by new design chief Luc Donckerwolke, is driven by the desire for a 200mph top speed. This will help the SUV fit in with Bentley’s range of high-speed coupés and saloons.

The EXP 9 F, first seen at Geneva in 2012, has been in the production engineering phase for about 12 months, and a significant part of that process has been a fundamental redesign. “The concept got the idea out there, but we’ve been working on the real car and some things needed to change,” a source revealed.

With the 200mph top speed target in mind, Bentley has lowered the roofline, smoothed off the rear-end styling to create a more slippery shape and paid strong attention to the underbody aerodynamics.

The lower roofline will reduce the frontal area and compensate for the wide stance of the SUV, expected at a near two-metre overall width.

Bentley has also been juggling the requirements of mainly on-road luxury use with an ability to go off-road.

Because of the 200mph top speed target, the underbody has to be smooth and feature clever aerodynamics to ensure high-speed stability.

Attention to aerodynamic detail in the underbody is not usually a prerequisite in SUVs, where protection from rock damage and mud ingress are usually priorities. Additionally, it will be necessary to develop tyres which are capable of very high sustained speeds while also performing well off-road.