Tuesday, 6 March 2012 1:03 PM
Does the world need the Bentley EXP 9 F? This is the question many a motoring scribe was asking as the covers came off Bentley's all-wheel-drive luxury SUV concept car in Geneva today.
The looks will certainly polarise opinion but the more pragmatic amongst us are suggesting that if the market wants a thumping great high-end SUV and there are still people around with enough money to buy such a beast, then Bentley should jolly well make one. The response to this concept at Geneva will certainly play a big part in the Crewe-based company deciding whether to add this as a third model alongside the Mulsanne and Continental ranges.
The design is a curious mix of sleek lines along the side, wheels with a headspinning number of spokes and a somewhat goggle-eyed front. The grille is unmistakably Bentley but the proportions are taking a little getting used to. And while Bentley is promising off-road capability, how many of these would ever see mud, sand or rocks?
Still, the same could be said about the Porsche Cayennes on the streets of London. The temptation is certainly there to take this concept off tarmac with three different driving modes – Comfort, Sport and Off-Road. There's plenty of lovely kit inside a luxurious interior which even includes silk wool floor mats. Hmm, they'll go well with muddy wellies and wet Labradors. But we digress - there's also a panoramic glass panel in the roof, a central panel for all the driver information, such as 3D sat-nav.
Once you get past the design, it's hard to argue with the power of the engine - a 6.0-litre twin turbo W12 mated to an eight-speed transmission. Regardless of what you think of the looks, that is one car that will fly like the proverbial off a shovel with the potential for around 600bhp.
But it's only a concept car at this stage and Bentley is open to the idea of a smaller engine, such as the company's new 4.0-litre twin turbo V8 or even a hybrid drivetrain. Whether the Hollywood Prius set will embrace a hybrid Bentley is another matter, but time will tell whether this will be the version that makes it to the marketplace.
We'd love to hear your thoughts on this one. What do you think of the design? Does the world need a Bentley SUV? If the market wants a Bentley SUV should capitalism win out over practicality, environmental concerns or the price of petrol? We'd love to hear from you; comment below…
By Georgia Lewis
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