Bentley reveals powertrain details for EXP 9F Luxury SUV concept at 2012 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition.
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.
The new pinnacle-luxury Bentley would offer exhilarating performance, setting new benchmarks for the SUV sector. The EXP 9 F concept on display in Beijing is based around the Bentley 6.0 litre, twin-turbocharged W12 petrol engine, developing 600bhp and 800 Nm of torque coupled with an 8-speed close-ratio transmission.
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
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.
- 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
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 upright dashboard design features a full-width, one-piece wood veneer with a subtly negative surface and instruments with a configurable display. The fluid waist rail design shows pinnacle craftsmanship with chequered, lacquered and oiled finishes. Veneers are sculpted to reveal their solid wood construction. The highly distinctive, carved checkering design on the steering wheel rim, inspired by a shot-gun's stock, also offers additional grip.
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 reclined position with powered footrest, drinks table and an infotainment screen for movies. A removable Touch Pad located on the centre console manages the rear cabin climate control system and entertainment functions. When the rear seats are not in use, they can be powered forward to create a larger loadspace for sports equipment or luggage.
At the rear, the lower section of the two-piece tailgate may be used as a viewing bench or picnic table with the upper section providing a canopy to provide protection against the elements. Bespoke picnic hampers are stowed neatly to either side of the load space when not in use, but are located on rails for easy access. An awning extends over the tailgate to protect those seated there; two umbrellas fit into stowage compartments in the rear luggage area for when the rain clouds sweep in. These compartments are heated for rapid drying of wet umbrellas.
COMMANDING DRIVING POSITION AND CONTROL ARCHITECTURE:
- Inspired blend of traditional analogue and TFT touchscreen technology
- Bespoke interface engineering – tailored to the individual with driver-selectable instrumentation modes
As befits a Bentley, the EXP 9 F design concept features a near-infinite choice of driver information and entertainment options. However the design and electrical engineering teams sought to avoid creating a cluttered or confusing driver and passenger environment, presenting only the information that each user needs, when they need it.
As a result, EXP 9 F places key driver information such as 3D navigation in a central TFT panel directly in the driver's line of sight, where it is flanked by two analogue reverse-read dials. Meanwhile, controls that are shared between driver and front seat passenger, such as cabin temperature, air vents and entertainment, are presented in the central touchscreen and console. The TFT screen deploys from the full-width metal trim to provide a fully integrated extension to the glass surface of the centre console.
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.
"A Bentley Grand Tourer doesn't necessarily have to be a coupé, a convertible or a saloon – it could equally well be an SUV. What's important is that it should be true to Bentley's brand values and in line with the desires and needs of our customers." – Alasdair Stewart, Member of the Board, Sales and Marketing.