Even with the mixed public reaction that the EXP 9 F SUV concept received when it was unveiled in Geneva, Bentley will showcase it as is at the Beijing motor show in April. Some people had commented that the styling of the SUV was unrefined and awkward for an ultra-luxury brand.
However, Bentley is not worried. According to a company spokesperson, getting worldwide reaction from the public and the customers is part of the process that the concept is going through. The Volkswagen-owned UK company will proceed with the manufacturing of the EXP 9 F, Bentley's engineering boss Rolf Frech told Automotive News Europe earlier this month at the Geneva Motor Show.
It requires the SUV to stabilize its sales cycle, he added. At present, most of Bentley sales are attributable to the Continental range accounts.
The flagship Mulsanne sedan makes up the rest of the sales. Frech shared that when there are just two automobile lineups with life cycles that go almost equally down and up, one has to study what needs to be added. The EXP 9 F is the right automobile for the automaker to get the balance, he explained, adding that it gives them an "additional chance" in the emerging markets of China and the Middle East.
Frech believes that they will have "a lot of additional customers." A twin-turbo 12-cylinder gasoline powerplant runs the EXP 9 F. A production variant could also have the company's turbocharged V-8 gasoline unit and a hybrid powertrain. Through February, China was the biggest single market of Bentley with vehicle sales of 324 units. This is an increase by 66% from the same period last year. The United States follows closely with sales of 894 units, an increase by 29%. Worldwide sales were 894 units, a boost of 47%.
EXP 9 F has been a dream project for Bentley designers as it was a chance for them to create an entirely new type of Bentley vehicle. The design team, from the very start, already had a clear vision for this new Bentley SUV. And, as Director of Design Dirk van Braeckel explains, the Bentley EXP 9 F needed to represent the SUV sector’s absolute pinnacle, setting a whole new benchmark for this kind of vehicle. This style had to reflect the brand’s sporting character despite a radically different purpose and package, and it has to have surfaces that are sculptured and flowing, in keeping with Bentley’s tradition.
A new Bentley class has enabled the styling team to adhere to a design approach that’s more progressive. The exterior is a dynamic and bold statement, combining signature character lines with clean and muscular surfaces, at the same time keeping the pure Bentley qualities of power and luxury.
Matrix grille, strong power-line and haunch by each flank, round lamps, and other key Bentley cues are reinterpreted for the EXP 9 F. Its hewn-from-solid design language as well as its innovative detailing emphasizes the high-luxury SUV’s robust character.
Designers were inspired by the EXP 9 F’s more functional nature, as well as by famous Blower Bentleys’ 'visible engineering.' For example, apertures for the day-time running lamp also act as the twin-turbo W12 engine’s charge cooler air intakes, each with a mesh-covered turbine fan design as well as a 'rifled' inner surface finish.
This turbine theme continues, complete with 23-inch alloy wheels that have been designed to complement the car’s sculptured coachwork. The EXP 9 F’s multiple spokes remind you of the turbine fan blades’ shape whereas the centrally mounted wheel nut boasts a visual reference to Bentley’s Le Mans racers in the 1920s with center-lock spinner as well as to the single nut that can be found on the high-tech racing alloys of modern-day Speed 8.