While putting power to all four wheels is nothing new for Bentley, it's usually used for traction and performance, as in the Continental series. But at the 2012 Geneva Auto Show, Bentley showed the four-wheel-drive EXP 9 F, luxury SUV to rival the Maserati Kubang or Porsche Cayenne. It might even have the Ferrari FF, the four-seater, six-figure Italian station wagon, in its family-friendly sights. Bentley said that its current customers already owned SUVs -- how else are you going to get around at the Sundance Film Festival? -- but the British company wanted to build an SUV worthy of wearing the Flying B.
The EXP 9 F, with all the capital letters and pointless spaces in its name, was introduced as a mere concept in Geneva. Bentley is teasing buyers with the idea that it might make an SUV very similar to this in the near future, but it didn't offer any hard facts, or delivery dates, or prices.
The concept was built to accommodate Bentley's mighty 6-liter W12, which powers almost all its other cars. But the company is keeping its options open, including the newer 4-liter twin-turbo V8 that it recently dropped in the Continental. It's interesting that an SUV would likely get some of the best fuel economy in the whole Bentley family. Bentley even mentioned the possibility of adding a V6 plug-in hybrid drive to the EXP 9 F, which could make the Porsche Cayenne shake in its hybrid boots. Especially if the Bentley hybrid delivers on its 0-62 mph promise of under 5 seconds.
Designers went for a "hewn from solid" look for Bentley's first SUV, which means they wanted it to look as if the vehicle were carved from one block of wood. It's a concept that carries through the rest of Bentley's cars, and it certainly applies to a vehicle that's intended to look a bit more rugged. Not, you'll notice, much more rugged, though. There's a huge, unmistakeably Bentley-esque upright grille, and the slope of the lift gate speaks more to sportiness than to actual sports.
Speaking of sportiness, designers also drew on the slab-sided Blower Bentleys of yesteryear for the EXP 9 F. In particular, they noted the idea of visible engineering -- placing the workings of the vehicle in plain sight, rather than shrouding them. The daytime running lamp surrounds below the headlights, for example, would act as air intakes for the twin-turbo engine, and they look like turbine blades themselves. The form goes a bit further than the function here, but it looks kinda cool.
- Engine: V8, V12, or hybrid
- Horsepower: TBD
- Torque: TBD
- Top speed: TBD
- 0-60 mph: TBD
- Price: no clue yet