A report from Britain’s “WHATCAR?” magazine suggests Bentley will go back to the drawing board before their EXP 9 F SUV hits the market in 2015. I, for one, am not so sure this is a good idea.
Before we start the discussion, it would make sense to establish a couple of things; any discussion of “betraying brand values” is null and void. Bentley “lost the plot” some time ago, depending on who you ask (I say it happened when they made watches with Breitling. Jack thinks the Continental GT was their death knell). The locus of affluence has shifted East, and Chinese, Russian and Emirati consumers want this car. Therefore, it will be made. There is no sense in trying to negotiate with reality.
Personally, I think the design is perfect given the vehicle’s intentions; to be an obnoxious, gaudy display of wealth in countries where inequality is rampant. It looks like a Range Rover with the front of a Mulsanne grafted on to it. Such a design has an obvious precedent – the Bentley Dominator, famously built for the Sultan of Brunei, really was a Range Rover with Bentley styling – and therefore a spiritual predecessor to the EXP 9 F.
According to Whatcar?
the redesigned EXP 9 F will have ‘more traditional SUV proportions and less retro surfacing’. The large round headlights and foglights will remain, but the headlights will be slightly smaller and set farther inward.
I’m not sure how the EXP 9 F can look any more like an SUV, unless the reduced “retro surfacing” means it looks more *ahem* Continental than Mulsanne. Alternate proposals are welcome. Unfortunately, “lighting it on fire” is not a valid option.