I really hope Bentley’s SUV concept looks better in the metal than it does in these awkward renderings. Inside, of course, it looks sublime – unmistakably a Bentley – but was this really penned by the same designers who brought us the elegant Continental GT?
Dirk van Braeckel, Director of Design, explains, “EXP 9 F had to represent the absolute pinnacle of the sport utility sector, setting a new benchmark for this type of vehicle. The style had to reflect Bentley’s sporting character despite its radically different package and purpose together with sculptured, flowing surfaces in keeping with the Bentley tradition.”
The designers were apparently inspired by the ‘visible engineering’ of the famous Blower Bentleys, the day-time running light apertures act as the charge cooler air intakes for the twin-turbo 6.0-litre W12 engine, each with a dramatic, mesh-covered turbine fan design and ‘rifled’ inner finish.
The turbine theme continues with huge 23″ alloy wheels, with a centre-lock spinner and single lug nut, as found on the modern-day Speed 8’s high-tech racing alloys.
The interior of the EXP 9 F blends luxury with utility. The result is a light and airy environment in a 4+1-seat configuration, with a commanding view of the road and a versatile layout.
Traditional handcrafted materials such as wood, leather and polished metals such as aluminium, bronze and gunmetal are used to create a sense of British luxury, with a contemporary ambience.
Soft-touch leather contrasts with durable surfaces on the EXP 9 F concept car, using saddle leather for the seat backs, top roll and loadspace – while analogue bezels and dials are paired with TFT ‘virtual’ instrumentation.
The upright dashboard design features a full-width, one-piece wood veneer with a subtly negative surface and instruments with a configurable display. Traditional Bentley ‘bulls eye’ vents have a ‘rifled’ gunmetal inner surface for a more contemporary and functional appearance.
Rear seat passengers can chose between business mode, with generous legroom complete with fold-down keyboard and full internet connectivity via an iPad or tablet or a more reclined position with powered footrest, drinks table and an infotainment screen for movies. When the rear seats are not in use, they can be powered forward to create a larger loadspace for sports equipment or luggage.
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 are potential power plants, should Bentley choose to produce the EXP 9 F.
Bentley will review customer feedback following the Geneva show, prior to refining the concept further.