Bentley have been given the go ahead to build an all new SUV EXP 9 F concept at its Crewe factory and that it will go on sale in 2016 at a cost of at least £100,000, and it will be a rival for cars such as the Range Rover and the forthcoming Maserati Levante. It will be the fourth Bentley model line alongside the Mulsanne, Continental and Flying Spur.
The EXP 9 F concept car was unveiled at the 2012 Geneva motor show. Dirk van Braeckel, director of design at Bentley emphasized that the EXP 9 F style had to reflect Bentley's sporting character. The EXP 9 F concept was one of a number of design proposals and that the production SUV model will have a similar overall shape, but with toned-down details and surfacing.
The concept car's interior features quilted leather trim, but it is designed to be able to cater for off-road excursions - the wool floormats can be turned over to reveal a more rugged "ribbed saddle leather" finish. The EXP 9F's interior blends tradtional Bentley luxury with modern design and technology. A central touchscreen is used to control entertainment and heating functions, as well as the satnav. Even the split tailgate features a full-width lower section that drops down to form a picnic table.
Bentley says the decision to build its new SUV in the UK will create more than 1,000 jobs and will result in more than £800 million of investment at its Crewe headquarters.
Currently the concept uses Bentley's W12 engine, but its more likely that the production car will also be available with a V8 and a plug-in hybrid powertrain.