There are moments within the motoring world when it’s absolutely justifiable to make that sound of air being sucked into your mouth through clenched teeth… this is one of those moments.
Dubbed, clonkingly, the EXP 9 F, this is Bentley’s long-rumoured entry into the Premium SUV realm with a dead-aim set on emerging markets such as China and the middle East (as if the poorly photoshopped ‘desert roaming’ press shots below didn’t convey this). The immediate reaction upon viewing this new 3-tonne-plus leviathan at the Geneva Motor Show this week is the rather obvious (lazy..?) inspiration used for its styling, or lack thereof, if we’re being honest.
With the chunky face of the Mulsanne and styling lifted straight from the Continental, it appears to resemble (unsurprisingly) a jacked-up version of the two afforementioned combined. ‘Traditional’ Bentley individual character and charm seem to have been forgone for outright bling-presence and awkward vulgarity – again, with the geographical aim of this vehicle.
But let’s be straight-up here; this is Bentley looking to cash-in. Pure and simple as that. All one needs to do is glance at the astounding sales of Premium-level Cayennes and Range Rovers in said emerging markets and this concept’s raison d’etre is clear as water. Bentley wants a piece of that action and its German owners aren’t about to shy away from the potential sales figures…
Wonky styling and reason-for-being aside, the guts of this massive mobile lounge feature the 600 bhp / 590 lb ft twin-turbo 6.0 W12 Vdub-lump that has been gracing Bentleys ever since the VW ownership takeover. As such, this effectively allows Bentley to claim (rather obviously) that this would be one of the fastest of its breed… and quite easily the highest petrol-consuming as well… yet, if you’re wealthy enough to own one, you won’t really care about that.
As you’d also expect, oppulence takes centre stage with vulgar 23″ wheels, a flashy interior constructed of the finest veneer woods and the softest of hand-stitched leathers. Creature comforts abound with various cubbies for wine glasses and a handly split tail-gate (a la Range Rover) that offers a place to plomp your wealthy buttocks while you make full use of the custom dining-set out back.
As this is Bentley’s first foray into the Premium SUV segment, no holds were barred in the over-lavishing exercise of their concept to get their, um, point across. Yet Bentley reminds us that this is merely a concept to gauge reaction and insight from their potential customers that they so do wish to please…
With that in mind, it will be interesting to watch how a Bentley born purely from the munching gravity of marketing leads will end up in the end. Strange automotive times ahead, indeed…