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Auto Show:  2012 Geneva Auto Show

Bentley EXP 9 F: Geneva Auto Show

author photo by Jeffrey Archer March 2012
  • Officially a concept, but will likely see production
  • Exterior styling draws heavily on other Bentley models
  • Power comes from Bentley's twin-turbo W12 engine

World-renowned luxury automaker Bentley is entering new territory at this year's Geneva Auto Show with the debut of an all-new SUV. Officially dubbed the "EXP 9 F" and considered a concept vehicle, the new SUV reveals Bentley's intentions to increase sales volume by entering new segments and likely previews an upcoming production model.

On the outside, the EXP 9 F's styling is unmistakably Bentley. In front, the concept SUV features the automaker's distinctive grille, a large circular headlight design borrowed from the Mulsanne, and strong character lines that outline its hood. In back, the EXP 9 F's rear lights and oval-shaped dual exhaust pipes mirror the design from Bentley's popular Continental GT, while a robust line that runs from the SUV's doors to its rear end provides an especially muscular look. Other distinctive features include 23-inch multi-spoke wheels and steeply raked rear glass accented by a roof spoiler.

Inside, the EXP 9 F shows its concept car roots by making use of futuristic touchscreen technology and ultra-luxurious appointments. While its woodgrain dashboard and circular air vents are characteristic Bentley design features, the SUV's thin 3D navigation display screen, touchscreen climate controls and modern transmission selector prove that the brand has its eyes on developing technology. Other interior highlights include a panoramic glass roof panel, silk wool floor mats and a two-piece tailgate that opens to reveal a variety of bespoke picnic items. According to Bentley, the EXP 9 F offers a "4 + 1" seating configuration, meaning the SUV can seat four full-sized adults comfortably, or five passengers in a pinch.

While Bentley says the EXP 9 F is powered by the automaker's impressive 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged W12 engine mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission, the luxury brand notes the SUV would also perform competently with its new 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 or even a hybrid drivetrain. While the announcement of three potential engines may seem unusual for a one-off concept car, we think that's Bentley's way of setting consumer expectations for the arrival of each powertrain when the SUV makes its debut in production form.

And when will the EXP 9 F - or its production version - see the inside of a Bentley showroom? At the moment, we're not sure - and the automaker is tight-lipped about its future in the SUV market. But if we were to make a guess, we think Bentley could offer a production-ready EXP 9 F by the end of next year - and that the new model will likely start around $150,000.

What it means to you: A Bentley SUV could replace the Range Rover as the default upscale SUV choice for buyers looking for a luxurious vehicle with go-anywhere capabilities.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Bentley EXP 9 F: Geneva Auto Show - Autotrader