The SUV concept that Bentley displayed at the 2012 Geneva Auto Show embodied "British understatement,” according to CEO Wolfgang Duerheimer. However, it received heavy criticism online with numerous bloggers describing this concept as ugly and would only be good at showing off criminals.
Among the undesirable elements noted are the big round fog lamps below the headlights and the prominent Bentley grille. Although there are those who would say that when seen live, the grille seems to be proportional with the rest of the vehicle and would provide a sense of power and muscularity.
The concept is powered by a 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged W-12 engine but it may also be equipped with a 4.0-liter V-8 or a hybrid drivetrain. Bentley requires a third model line to lessen its dependence on the Continental range, which accounts for most of its sales. This makes it likely that the concept will be produced.
This car will probably appeal to the newly rich in China and Russia but then it also faces competition from other luxury automakers that want to dominate in this niche. This April, Lamborghini will introduce an SUV study at the Beijing auto show. At the Frankfurt show, Maserati presented the Kubang SUV concept. They are both hoping to copy the Porsche Cayenne’s success.
From the point of view of a designer, the EXP 9 F is considered as a dream project as it offered the chance to make a new Bentley. Indeed, by creating a new Bentley, the styling team was able to implement a design approach that can be considered as more modern. The exterior for instance continues to have the well-known character lines and this is combined with the muscular and clean surfaces resulting in a dynamic and bold statement.
Even with these features, the team made sure that it would still have power and luxury, attributes that guaranteed this is indeed a true Bentley. While the usual Bentley cues can still be seen like the round lamps and matrix grille, this has been reinterpreted under the EXP 9 F.
The same is true for the haunch and the power-line that are on each of the sides. Helping highlight the high-luxury SUV’s sturdy character are the innovative detailing and the design language that has been “hewn from solid.” Under the EXP 9 F, the design team not only focused on making this new model more functional but was clearly inspired by the “visible engineering” of the Blower Bentleys.
A good example is the openings of its daytime running lamps. In terms of design, it has a mesh-covered and dramatic turbine fan design having a “rifled” finish on the inner surface. However, these same openings also function as cooler air intakes for its twin-turbocharged W12 engine. While it was indeed a challenge, the design team was able to meet it as they had a clear goal on how to go about the Bentley SUV even from the start.
Director of Design Dirk van Braeckel shares that the EXP 9 F had to symbolize the height at which the sport utility segment could reach and with it establish new standards for this vehicle type. He adds that even if it does have a different purpose and package, it should have a style that would continue to display the sporting qualities of a Bentley. This is then combined with the flowing and sculpted surfaces, as long practiced by Bentley, he continues.