Bentley revealed the new EXP 9 F Concept, its first SUV, at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show. First of all, we have to admit that the concept looks weird… if the rear end resembles the 2012 Range Rover Vogue, the front end is inspired by the Mulsanne flagship sedan.
We admit that Bentley designers tried to design a classic SUV but the front end looks unusual and we hope that the concept will not have the same faith as the Aston Martin Lagonda SUV Concept. As expected, the Bentley EXP 9 F is powered by the W12 6.0-liter engine delivering around 600 hp and 800 Nm of torque but the British manufacturer considers using the company’s recently-launched 4.0 litre, twin-turbocharged V8 or a hybrid drivetrain. Both engines will be mated to an 8-speed transmission.
As you can see from the photos, the designers were inspired by the famous Blower Bentleys. As a result, 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 same turbine theme is found on the 23-inch alloy wheels. The rear lights are inspired by the forms and details of fighter jet engines, uniquely designed so that they glow from within, spreading their light outwards.
The interior resembles the Bentley quality and features handcrafted elements such as wood, leather and polished metals such as aluminium, bronze and gunmetal.
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. Moreover, the flowing roof design with a panoramic glass panel is inspired by the roll cages of rally cars, expressing both strength and lightness. Regarding the the two-piece tailgate, this can be used as a viewing bench or picnic table. Bespoke picnic hampers are stowed neatly to either side of the loadspace when not in use, but are located on rails for easy access.
Through the lens of the design team, the EXP 9 F was considered as a dream project as it gave them the chance to make a new Bentley. Because it would result in a new Bentley, it also meant that the team responsible for the style would be able to use a design approach that would be more progressive. As such the exterior shows the trademarked character lines combined with the muscular and clean surfaces result in a dynamic statement. Even with all of this, it remains to be a true Bentley as it shows both power and luxury.
For the design team, the EXP 9 F was not only about function as it also exhibits the visible engineering Blower Bentleys are known for. Thus the daytime running lamps have openings that also function as the cooler air intakes for the vehicle’s twin-turbo W12 engine. Each of the openings comes with a rifled finish on the inner surface and a mesh-covered turbine fan design.
This turbine theme can be seen as well on the alloy 23-inch wheels and with the way it has been designed, it complements the sculptured coachwork. The multiple spokes bring to mind how the fan blades of a turbine are shaped. In addition with a wheel nut mounted in the center, it becomes reminiscent of the Le Mans models of the brand in the 1920s, especially those with a center-lock spinner. This also provides for a reference on the single nut on many of the more contemporary advanced racing alloys of the Speed 8.
The EXP 9 F also has a number of cues that prove it is a Bentley like the round lamps and matrix grille. There is also the strong power-line found on each side though for the EXP 9 F, this has been reinterpreted. At the rear section, the use of diving lines on its tailgate ensures that utilitarian overtones are avoided and instead deliver a more unique sporting profile.
In addition, having a two-part split and wide tailgate allows for better versatility especially when grand touring. Further, the twin exhaust tailpipes that have the rifled inner surfaces ensure that it complements the already strong design language. The elliptical shapes of the tailpipes reflect the light clusters in the rear. Indeed, the hewn form solid design theme plus the application of innovative detailing help highlight this high-luxury SUV’s strong character.
According to Director of Design Dirk van Braeckel, when designing this new SUV for Bentley, the design team knew what it wanted to do. Director van Braeckel revealed that the EXP 9 F needed to set new standards for this segment and thus had to be the best example when it comes to sport utility.
He added that while it would have a new and different purpose and package, it had to show a style that mirrored the sporting qualities of the brand. These are then combined with the flowing and sculptured surfaces, which are in line with the tradition of the brand, van Braeckel said further.