Bentley EXP 9 F SUV


Bentley finally came up with an SUV car, but it’s not what we’ve been expecting. It seems as if it was designed to design one man and one man only, which it probably was.

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. But it’s not exactly pretty, and it’s also quite large, and with the W12 powertrain under the bonnet, it’s not that in tune with the times either.

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. That’s the subtle hint Bentley gives us to know this is actually a production model, not just a show car.

Bentley EXP 9 F Bentley EXP 9 F SUV

Bentley press release:

BOLD, DYNAMIC, SPORTY DESIGN

  • Key Bentley styling cues re-interpreted for EXP 9 F with innovative detailing
  • Sculptured flowing surfaces emphasise power, muscularity and robustness

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:

“EXP 9 F had to represent the absolute pinnacle of the sport utility sector, setting a new benchmark for this type of vehicle. The style had to reflect Bentley’s sporting character despite its radically different package and purpose together with sculptured, flowing surfaces in keeping with the Bentley tradition.”

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.

The turbine theme continues with the stunning 23-inch alloy wheels, the design of which complements the sculptured coachwork. The multiple spokes are reminiscent of the shape of turbine fan blades while the centrally mounted wheel nut is a visual reference both to Bentley’s Le Mans racers of the 1920s with centre-lock spinner and to the single nut found on the modern-day Speed 8’s high-tech racing alloys.

At the rear, the swooping lines of the tailgate avoid utilitarian overtones in favour of a distinctly sporting profile, while the ultra-wide, two-part split tailgate offers a high level of versatility when grand touring. The bold design language of EXP 9 F is complemented by twin exhaust tailpipes with ‘rifled’ inner surfaces, their elliptical shapes echoing those of the rear light clusters.

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.

INTERIOR – A FUSION OF LUXURY WITH UTILITY

  • Light, airy, contemporary cabin design with exquisite British ‘sporting’ luxury craft detailing
  • Contemporary use of touchscreen and tailored interface technologies
  • Fresh interpretation of traditional handcrafted materials with highly durable surfaces
  • High degree of practicality including versatile rear cabin layout and full-width, two-piece tailgate

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:

“The challenge for the interior design team was to create a cabin which provides a blend of luxury and utility. The result is a light and airy environment with a commanding view of the road and a versatile layout which showcases Bentley’s craft and design language in an innovative and contemporary way.”

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.

Even 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.

The upright dashboard design features a full-width, one-piece wood veneer with a subtly negative surface and instruments with a configurable display. Traditional Bentley ‘bulls eye’ vents have a ‘rifled’ gunmetal inner surface for a more contemporary and functional appearance. The centre console is a blend of functionality and supreme ergonomics with dynamic, architectural layers which help to create a central spine to the cabin. The frame of the console is also a structural component with integrated, sculpted grab handles.

The flowing roof design with a panoramic glass panel is inspired by the roll cages of rally cars, expressing both strength and lightness.

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