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March 08, 2012

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BENTLEY REVEALS EXP 9 F – A PINNACLE LUXURY PERFORMANCE SUV DESIGN CONCEPT

Geneva - Bentley is offering a vision of the future with a dramatic new Sport Utility Vehicle concept, EXP 9 F, at the Geneva International Salon d’Auto. The Company’s designers and engineers have created a compelling new take on the Grand Touring Bentley - a vehicle that feels equally at home at an opera gala performance, on the sand dunes and the overtaking lane of the autobahn.

Unmistakably a Bentley – yet a Bentley like none before it – the EXP 9 F could herald a third Bentley model-line alongside the bespoke Mulsanne and the high performance Continental GT, GTC and Flying Spur.

 

 

Today a global luxury brand with a network of 160 dealers from Shanghai to Beverly Hills, Bentley has an increasingly diverse customer base spanning every continent. For many customers, a dramatically styled, Bentley all-wheel drive SUV which combines a spacious, versatile cabin and commanding driving position, with Bentley’s hallmark power, performance, advanced technology and hand crafted luxury, would be a natural choice both on and off-road.

“We are very excited by the potential of a high performance, ultra-luxury Bentley SUV. We know that many Bentley customers already own SUVs, admiring their style, luxury, performance and versatility. With EXP 9 F, Bentley is making a clear statement of intent that we have both the expertise and desire to meet and exceed their expectations.” Wolfgang Dürheimer, Chairman and Chief Executive, Bentley Motors.

From a designer’s perspective, EXP 9 F was a dream project, the chance to create a completely new type of Bentley. From the very beginning, the design team had a clear vision for the new Bentley SUV, as Dirk van Braeckel, Director of Design, explains:

A new class of Bentley allowed the styling team to adopt a more progressive design approach. The exterior is a bold, dynamic statement, combining clean, muscular surfaces with signature character lines, while retaining the qualities of luxury and power – a pure Bentley.

 

Key Bentley cues such as the matrix grille, round lamps and the strong power-line and haunch along each flank are reinterpreted for EXP 9 F. The ‘hewn from solid’ design language and innovative detailing, emphasise the robust character of this high-luxury SUV.

The designers were inspired not only by the more functional nature of EXP 9 F but by the ‘visible engineering’ of the famous Blower Bentleys. For example, 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.

Bentley is renowned for its fusion of extremes – technology and craftsmanship, luxury and performance – and the interior of EXP 9 F expresses the resolution of apparent opposites in its use of materials, techniques and technology, as Dirk van Braeckel explains:

Traditional handcrafted elements such as wood, leather and polished metals such as aluminium, bronze and gunmetal are used to create a sense of British luxury, yet the way they are used sets a fresh and contemporary interior ambience. Soft-touch leather contrasts with highly durable surfaces with the concept car design experimenting with the use of saddle leather for the seat backs, top roll and loadspace – while analogue bezels and dials are paired with TFT ‘virtual’ instrumentation.

The EXP 9 F seating is 4+1, with a rear armrest lifting to reveal a cooled compartment for champagne and glasses. Seats feature a diamond-quilted ‘shoulder line’ in soft-touch leather, echoing the traditional appearance of a British field sport jacket.

Three different driving modes – Comfort, Sport and Off-Road – are selectable according to the road environment and type of journey. Thus the driver information TFT panel would be able to switch between satellite navigation on the motorway to a ‘sump cam’ when negotiating a bumpy track.

BENTLEY POWER AND PERFORMANCE

Although the EXP 9 F concept is based around the Bentley 6.0 litre, twin-turbocharged W12 engine with an 8-speed transmission, both the company’s recently-launched 4.0 litre, twin-turbocharged V8 or a hybrid drivetrain could meet the performance requirements of a pinnacle luxury SUV.

Whilst EXP 9 F is primarily intended to investigate new design territory – and all drivetrain options remain under consideration – any Bentley SUV would offer the thunderous performance the marque is renowned for. The W12 6.0 litre powertrain, for example, could develop 600bhp and 800 Nm of torque with key performance indicators like the top speed and 0-60mph sprint time all setting new benchmarks for the SUV sector.

EVALUATION, REFINEMENT AND FUTURE PLANNING

When the first generation Continental GT was unveiled in 2003 it represented the renaissance of Bentley as a global luxury icon, subsequent launches such as Mulsanne, Continental Flying Spur saloon and the new Continental GT have seen the Bentley brand growing from strength to strength.

EXP 9 F represents the chance to take Bentley values of design, craftsmanship and engineering excellence into what would be – literally – new terrain for the brand. Bentley’s experience with the all-wheel drive Continental range makes the concept of a Bentley SUV a natural progression for the company.

Customer and public reaction will be analysed following the unveiling of EXP 9 F at Geneva 2012, with the aim of refining the concept further. Above all, Bentley will be listening carefully to the reaction of customers and potential customers throughout the world, prior to making any definitive commitment to production.

Photos: Bentley

(March 06, 2012)


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