By on March 12, 2012

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.


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22 Comments on “Ask The Best And Brightest: Should Bentley Redesign The EXP 9 F SUV?...”

  • avatar

    Doesn’t look very “luxurious”, and about stylistically “interesting” as a Ford EXP.

    I was in La Jolla all last week and a new Rolls came up next to me (in my Mustang GT rental, thanks Avis). I noticed the new lights and the door handles, but the rest of the car was very much underwhelming and lacked any “presence”. Well, it had presence because the driver kept taking up 2 lanes trying to see which one might be quicker.

    These cars do absolutely nothing for me, but that Stang was fun.

  • avatar

    I think “more traditional SUV proportions” means Escalade-like, body-on-frame with a higher roof and a higher rockers-to-hubs ratio. The EXP 9 F looks like a big CUV.

    Bentley makes huge powerful touring cars, I don’t see how a huge powerful SUV is really outside its wheelhouse.

  • avatar
    Cavalier Type 10

    They just hired a new chief exterior design person, David Hilton, who has a resume of some important vehicles, including the Ford F150 and the Focus RS. He likely had nothing to do with this and is ready to correct a universally panned design. Bentley is seen as a “bling mobile” more for cultural reasons and owner modifications than for reasons of the designs itself. This design plays along with the “bling mobile” caracature. You do not ever want to outdo your own caracature.

  • avatar

    I am not sure why this is a topic of question… this is such a wildly hideous design it makes my eyes hurt.

  • avatar

    Yes it’s fugly. Remember when a roller was gaudy, and then they made the Bently mulsane. Suddenly they had larger sales, then the Turbo R increased things further. These were relatively nondescript cars, especialy compred to their Rolls counterparts, and they had larger sales. The Arange too was a good seller.

    Now we have the rolls ghost, classy relatively understated, while bently goes gaudy. The presence of a Bently came from its size a sort of 11/10ths scale car, motor, and supreme luxury interior. This should translate well to an SUV, and it does not have to be gaudy. Going gaudy will ultimately deplete the brand. In the end you can only sell so may Bentlys in a segement and to increase sales with gaudyness does not seem a good long term propect.

    Which brings me to another subject, Whither Porche. I had a good look at a 991 next to the outgoing GTS. So porche has designed a new 928 with the engine in the back and called it a 911. The intimacy of the car is lost, the styling more caritature than real, and while I am sure it can lap faster, the joy of a 911 was that it was alive and had to be DRIVEN at all speeds, which made it fun and engaging even for casual drivers. Now all is lost in the 991 pastiche, a good car no doubt, but no longer great, just another R8 competitor.

  • avatar

    If by “redesign” you mean send the prototypes to the crusher, burn the drawings, destroy any hard drives with images of the vehicle, and fire anyone responsible for this project, then by all means yes, “redesign” it.

  • avatar

    Bentley has been mostly dead to me since it was bought out by Rolls-Royce in 1931. That said, this is an atrocious blingmobile.

  • avatar

    The front apertures make it look like someone dropped LSD in the fuel tank.

  • avatar

    No. The market for this thing is the people who collect miniature giraffes and 30 foot pandas.

  • avatar

    It’s the illegitimate offspring of an AMC Eagle and a Kenworth T2000.

    I’m not sure there is any way to make it look better. Just like the “Don’t think of…” psychology example, telling us NOT to kill the EXP with fire just makes us want to kill it with fire more badly!

  • avatar

    Just add a big double wing to the back, then it will be perfect.

  • avatar
    SOF in training

    I was really enjoying the Studebaker Lark styling cues, and looking forward to the Wagonaire version.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    For what it is, it’s perfect.

    One’s taste does not increase with wealth, any more than one’s driving skills (as Baruth is quick to point out when discussing newly minted weekend racers).

    The EXP 9F has to convey material success formerly characterized by a miniaturized giraffe on a golden platter. “Wealth. I haz it.”

    It must show no restraint whatsoever. Any sense of decency must be quashed, like the little people beneath its tires.

    Don’t try to make this British, with a stiff upper lip and classic Savile Row lines. Any historical reference in this discussion is a complete misunderstanding of Bentley’s new market and what drives its billionaire consumer. All 200 of them. Worldwide. Per year.

  • avatar

    You’ll hate it no matter what it looks like.

    Weird on the “more traditional SUV proportions”. It has perfect SUV proportions.

  • avatar

    Let me make this perfectly clear … Y E S !

    I just looked up the word HIDEOUS. The picture of this Bentley was shown.

    This design is as thick as a whale omelet (some people will know who said that). This design must be from some bizarro future world where dimensions and proportions are out of whack due to some space time continuum distortion.

    Either that, or it was designed by people who have no clue about SUV design.

  • avatar

    There is nothing wrong in theory with a Bentley SUV, this was just a really horrible execution.

    Since this is an Audi Q7/Toureg/Cayenne, with the engine block completely in front of the front axle, the Bentley stylists are never going to be able to give it traditional cab-rearward Bentley proportions. But Bentley could have at least tacked on a better front end. I recommend the front end from the recent Bentley Brooklands.

    Since many of these are going to head straight to the pimp shop I think Bentley should offer a version equipped like this:

  • avatar

    Fixed it. But I made it more ‘Bentley’ and less SUV. Really a quick fix, narrower grille and moved headlights.

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