Insiders confirm a redesign of Bentley’s controversial EXP 9 F ‘Falcon’ SUV

Article by Christian Andrei, on March 19, 2012

Due to mixed reactions at the 2012 Geneva Auto Show for the front-end styling of the EXP 9 F ‘Falcon’ SUV, Bentley is reconsidering this feature, sources have told Autocar. It’s a positive thing though that very few visitors to the show doubted whether Bentley should have an SUV.

An insider told Autocar that this design, which was created during the leadership of current CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer, is a departure from its earlier SUV proposal that was distributed internally at Bentley about five or six years ago. The source talked about a chance for the styling to be modified as it proceeds to production.

The concept has a width of two meters and has to be made narrower to be at a size that’s more practical. The potential customers for the model would be its most important critics. Right after the show, the current Bentley owners and the conquests will tweak the design. Furthermore, Bentley is thinking about developing its own V8-based plug-in hybrid to use on the production car. The new powertrain will borrow from the MLB longitudinal engine platform of Volkswagen Group and is expected to have impressive figures for CO2 emissions and fuel economy.

A lot of the hybrid technology had been developed for the Porsche Cayenne and VW Touareg already. They both come with a V6 supercharged petrol engine. However, the V6 is believed to not have the power and image needed for the Falcon.

An insider said that having Bentley in the group can prove to be advantageous as they can borrow technology. The Falcon was designed to maximize driver’s visibility. It has a low dashboard and as the seating position is relatively high (at about 50mm higher than in a Cayenne) so that it could have a view over the broad bonnet that’s similar to what the Range Rover offers.

From the viewpoint of a designer, EXP 9 F was a project that no one else could ever have dreamed of accomplishing. It offers to innovate a totally different Bentley. Right from the start, the team in-charge of the design had a pristine idea for the new SUV for the Bentley, as the Director of Design, Dirk Van Braeckel had plenty to say. First, he stated that EXP 9 F had to be the representative of the sport utility class, creating a new standard for a type of vehicle such as this. He believes that the design had to mirror the sporting ambiance of the Bentley inspite of the new approach and intent coupled with the original style maintaining the Bentley signature.

A different type of Bentley gave room for the styling team to incorporate a cutting-edge design. Its outward appearance has a strong vibe, putting together masculine features with recognizable Bentley identifiers while keeping its luxurious façade and power – a real Bentley.

Signature Bentley features that are easy to spot are the round lamps, matrix grille, and the powerful line and haunch through each flank. However, these have been reinvented for the EXP 9 F. Its design showcases exceptional detailing, even for an SUV.

The inspiration for the design of the EXP 9 F’s efficiency stemmed from the ‘visible engineering’ of the popular Blower Bentleys. For instance, the running lamp apertures for day-time also function as the charge cooler for the engine that is a twin-turbo W12. Each lamp has a turbine fan feature and ‘rifled’ surface finish on the inside.

A set of 23-inch alloy wheels completes the turbine theme, a design that goes well with the interior comfort of the seats. The spokes are a reminder of the turbine fan blades and the wheel nut is a visual cue that can be identified with Le Mans racers of the early 1900s. Furthermore, the single nut that can be seen on Speed 8’s racing alloys is totally top-notch.

Topics: bentley, suv, design

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