After months of rumors, Bentley revealed today a concept for its first sport utility vehicle ever: the 600-hp Bentley EXP 9 F. When it comes to vehicles for the wealthiest people in the world, restraint is so last century.
This year's Geneva Motor Show kicking off today comes stuffed like a Toblerone with nutty luxury SUV ideas, and given the success of Porsche and BMW in selling taller, car-like off-roaders, many of the world's luxury automakers simply can't resist — even when they should. Bentley isn't committing to building a version of the EXP 9 F, and it doesn't necessarily need a new model beyond the Mulsanne and Continental cars. But with ultra-luxury vehicle sales rising on strong demand from China and the Middle East, the SUV would make the most financial sense as an addition. Given that the Continental starts around $190,000 and the Mulsanne around $280,000, it's easy to imagine a Bentley SUV with a sticker of about $250,000.
Powered by a twin-turbo W-12 capable of 600 hp and 590 ft-lbs. of torque, Bentley says the EXP 9 would rank among the fastest vehicles of its kind. All that motive force gets to the ground through an 8-speed transmission and all-wheel-drive system turning 23-inch chrome wheels that are as bling-y as anything from Tire Rack. Inside lies the usual assortment of hand-stitched leathers, wood veneers and one-percentery touches like a split tailgate that folds down to reveal a custom dining set.
Having never built an SUV before, Bentley says its designers felt free to take a few risks, but how that lead to a vehicle which resembles the results of a one-night stand between a Land Rover Discovery and a London cab isn't clear. The concept sketches show the designers sought a lower, more raked windshield that would have resembled models like the Range Rover Evoque, but from the front the massive grille, circular intakes/driving lights and square profile seem much too much. Then again, if you're worried about excessive displays of wealth, you're clearly not in the market for a Bentley.