Sand in your crumpets
Design Spotlight: Bentley EXP 9 F Concept
If news of this all-new Bentley EXP 9 F Concept were any fresher, it would get up, hop into the driver’s seat and mash the throttle. And that’s what this world-class SUV has been designed to do, taking the Bentley name and everything that lies behind it–the racing heritage, performance, build quality and exclusivity–to a new realm. Gear Patrol is the first on the scene with this model-unveiling missive, and we’re noshing on the meaty bits Bentley has provided.
Our in-depth Design Spotlight on the Bentley EXP 9 F Concept continues after the jump
Just uncloaked at the Geneva International Salon d’Auto, the EXP 9 F is not meant to simply be an add-on to the already stellar line of automobiles. It’s intended to be a certified statement in style, sophistication, technology and performance never seen before in a luxury SUV. The concept gives rise to the real possibility that Bentley will breach this segment like only Bentley can do. We’ve seen the real emergence of Bentley’s design language take shape in their current lines with the wildly successful Continental and the regal and stunning Mulsanne. Both model lines sport muscular but elegant styling cues that break free of the older models, while remaining unmistakably Bentley. The EXP 9 F endeavors to do the same but in an altogether different vehicle type.
The styling quotient is upticked several notches in the SUV segment and you can still see consistent Bentley styling in the hood and front fenders. The EXP 9 F captivates with the bold and requisite Bentley matrix grille, muscular rear flanks and highly detailed front and rear fascia treatments. Notice the aircraft themes used in the front day-running light surrounds, the air intakes, as well as in the rear illumination. Like the glowing exhausts from a Joint Strike Fighter, the tail lamps’ radiating light pattern gives the feeling of both depth and power. This theme is even carried over to the massive 23-inch turbine-like bespoke wheels surrounding a large race-style center lug. The body itself is both bold and elegant, avoiding overwrought styling for the sake of clean lines found from the front, to the profile and all the way to the rear section.
The interior also fails to escape the wonderful Bentley touch. An amalgam of British bespoke tradition and the best of modern touches and tasteful technology makes for a cabin that just about usurps everything else we’ve seen north of the $200K mark. Copious use of rich leather, brushed gunmetal, bronze and aluminum, and forests of wood trim make your $50,000 man-cave bar upgrade look like an exercise in squalor. The quilted stitch bicolor-leather seats are pure opulence. The beautiful analog gauges keep the feel of the old, while the glass TFT display that rises from the metal trim keeps us well in the 21st century. And heaven forbid that your feet would not be cushioned by silk wool floormats, reversible to ribbed leather, so Bentley threw those in to stop your complaining. The center console is wide but light in appearance due to the raised leather railing that double as armrests. Every aspect of this concept’s interior appears to be very well thought out.
Your passengers won’t gripe too much, with fold down keyboards and internet connectivity via iPad or tablet PC, along with a second seating mode that allows reclining, powered footrests, a drink table and full infotainment. Heck, they’re only missing a toilet. A tour of the rear set up is even more impressive, with a tailgate that doubles as a bench or table and full twin picnic hampers deploy like two Williams-Sonoma utensil laden pods of eating joy. And should rain dampen your finger sandwich and paté snacktime, an overhead awning shields your dome from the elements.
Even the EXP 9 F’s math is sexy — a 6.0 liter twin-turbo W12 with upwards of 600 snorting horses — all this mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission, driving power to all four wheels (“Damn the mileage! Full speed ahead!”). We expect 60 mph to arrive in the high four, low five second range with a top speed of over 160 mph. No doubt an SUV based on this concept will have the kind of suspension set up to permit solid handling, as well as good off-road capability. Choose your suspension fancy with Comfort, Sport and Off-Road modes, so you can go from Sunday driving to Saturday screaming in nary a heartbeat. We see oil sheiks tearing up the dunes in this bad boy, smiling all the while. But it also might please more than the petrol-chuggers out there. The EXP 9 F Concept has the potential to make use of Bentley’s more “economical” twin-turbo V8 or a future hybrid set up. Imagine that. You could be both insanely rich and not completely insult Mother Earth.
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