The 2012 Bentley EXP 9 F was a design proposal for a third Bentley model to sit alongside the Mulsanne and Continental ranges. Clearly it’s an SUV, and while SUV’s aren’t generally known for their poise and grace, Bentley’s designers have plumbed new depths of bad taste when styling the EXP 9 F concept. Bentley say the EXP 9 F was a dream project for their designers. But what they’ve created is a nightmare. It reeks of the sort of miss-matched contours and lines typical of many keen-but-naive first year automotive design students. The front grille and headlight arrangement are in keeping with the rest of the Bentley range. But their translation into an SUV body has been grossly misjudged.
Bentley have taken the idea of the famous Blower Bentley’s of the late 1920s and early 1930s, and used that inspiration to design a number of features, including the day-time running lamp apertures which also act as the charge cooler air intakes for the engine. The enormous 23-inch turbine-style wheels are also a homage to its supercharged grandfather. Although in reality they look like they belong on a hideously modified tasteless lowrider.
Thankfully, on the inside things get infinitely better. The luxurious quilted leather seats of the EXP 9 F are beautifully complimented by a forest’s worth of walnut veneer. The soft-touch leather upholstery is paired with durable saddle leather for high-wear areas like the seat backs and loadspace. Traditional Bentley ‘bulls eye’ vents have a ‘rifled’ gunmetal inner surface for a more contemporary and functional appearance. The traditional-looking analogue dials are actually TFT display screens – these are matched by a larger rectangular touch screen display extending out of the center console. Rear seat passengers can chose between business mode, with generous legroom complete with fold-down keyboard and full internet connectivity via an iPad or tablet, or a more relaxed position with powered footrest, drinks table and an infotainment screen for movies. When the rear seats are not in use, they can be powered forward to create a larger loadspace for sports equipment or luggage.
Powering the Bentley EXP 9 F Concept is a 6.0 litre, twin-turbocharged W12 engine mated to an 8-speed transmission. Although Bentley say either their new V8 or a hybrid drivetrain could also be fitted.