Did'ya hear about the Bentley SUV Concept?

Mar 8, 2012

You know this is major news if non-automotive outlets are reporting this- even if they don't have the slightest clue of what they're talking about.

The only thing about the Geneva Motor Show that everyone is talking about is the Bentley EXP 9 F (the correct name for the Bentley SUV). Bentley was nice enough to send out a press release, and with that- I will enclose the meat-and-potatoes of the release.

Unmistakably a Bentley – yet a Bentley like none before it – the EXP 9 F could herald a third Bentley model-line alongside the bespoke Mulsanne and the high performance Continental GT, GTC and Flying Spur.

A new class of Bentley allowed the styling team to adopt a more progressive design approach. The exterior is a bold, dynamic statement, combining clean, muscular surfaces with signature character lines, while retaining the qualities of luxury and power – a pure Bentley.

Key Bentley cues such as the matrix grille, round lamps and the strong power-line and haunch along each flank are reinterpreted for EXP 9 F. The ‘hewn from solid’ design language and innovative detailing, emphasise the robust character of this high-luxury SUV.

The designers were inspired not only by the more functional nature of EXP 9 F but by the ‘visible engineering’ of the famous Blower Bentleys. For example, the day-time running lamp apertures also act as the charge cooler air intakes for the twin-turbo W12 engine, each with a dramatic, mesh-covered turbine fan design and ‘rifled’ inner surface finish.

The turbine theme continues with the stunning 23-inch alloy wheels, the design of which complements the sculptured coachwork. The multiple spokes are reminiscent of the shape of turbine fan blades while the centrally mounted wheel nut is a visual reference both to Bentley’s Le Mans racers of the 1920s with centre-lock spinner and to the single nut found on the modern-day Speed 8’s high-tech racing alloys.

Soft-touch leather contrasts with highly durable surfaces with the concept car design experimenting with the use of saddle leather for the seat backs, top roll and loadspace – while analogue bezels and dials are paired with TFT ‘virtual’ instrumentation.

Even the luxurious silk wool floormats are reversible – with one side finished in durable, ribbed saddle leather for use when the driver and passengers are dressed for the great outdoors.

Although the EXP 9 F concept is based around the Bentley 6.0 litre, twin-turbocharged W12 engine with an 8-speed transmission, both the company’s recently-launched 4.0 litre, twin-turbocharged V8 or a hybrid drivetrain could meet the performance requirements of a pinnacle luxury SUV.

Watch the video, and then I'll give you my two cents...

The interior lives up to its name- plush and uber luxurious. However, that exterior needs work. First of all, a boxy front end doesn't look good on a SUV. It's like they took the Bentley Arnage front end and slapped it on a SUV. Wrong, wrong, wrong. The rear looks like the Range Rover Sport, but with different tailpipes and lights. This SUV looks like two different vehicles- Boxy in the front, curvy in the back. If anything, Bentley should have taken the front end of the Continental GT/Flying Spur and kept the rear.

I hope that Bentley will fine-tune this concept before it hits the production line.

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