Bentley 4x4 revealed

5 Mar, 2012 7:30pm Steve Fowler

The Bentley EXP 9 F concept previews a £140,000 SUV which is due in dealers by 2015

The new Bentley 4x4 will out-punch a Porsche Cayenne, be more luxurious than a Range Rover and “mark a new pinnacle of SUVs in several dimensions”, according to Bentley chairman and CEO Wolfgang Durheimer.

As well as a new Bentley-developed version of the W12 engine – expected to produce around 600bhp and feature eco technology such as cylinder deactivation – the new car will eventually feature a V8 diesel model and a plug-in hybrid with a six-cylinder engine. Bentley will also plunder the rest of the VW Group’s technology in the search for weight-saving innovations.

Video: Watch our video of the Bentley EXP 9 F at Geneva

Officially, project EXP 9 F, on display at this week’s Geneva Motor Show, is a concept to gauge reaction from potential customers. But Bentley is well on the way to confirming production of the new car, which should be ready in 2015, slotting in neatly between the Continental and Mulsanne model cycles.

Bentley’s 4x4 sits somewhere between the Porsche Cayenne and Range Rover in terms of size, dynamics and ride comfort, and is set to out-perform both. The only fly in the ointment comes from in-house rival Lamborghini, which is also planning a high-performance SUV, possibly using a version of Bentley’s W12.

However, the Bentley will bring a new level of luxury and price (around £140,000) to the class. Bentley will rely on its craftsmen to produce the most sumptuous 4x4 cabin using the very finest materials and including some neat touches from design chief Dirk van Braeckel and his team.

The concept features what van Braeckel describes as “a more modern, advanced interior, but with the usual quality of wood and leather”. However, Bentley is using harder saddle leather for the first time in areas that may be subject to harder wear – this is a 4x4 after all – with softer leather where customers are more likely to touch it.

The traditional, full-width burr walnut dash complete with bullseye vents is juxtaposed with a hi-tech infotainment screen that will emerge from the dash and seem to float above a panel with controls for the climate, navigation and entertainment systems. Full connectivity and Internet access with downloadable apps will keep the system up-to-date.

The instrument binnacle features digital TFT screens with analogue needles. The displays change depending on the driving mode and also show the view of exterior cameras. Major controls are larger than usual so the driver can use them with gloves on.

A full-length panoramic sunroof has a central metal bar running its full length and featuring grab handles.

Bentley has lavished as much attention on the rear quarters as anywhere else in the car. The boot features a powered, split tailgate, beautifully trimmed for two people to sit or stand on. Two hampers swing out from panels above the wheelarches to boost the car’s picnic appeal.

Rear passengers in two or three contoured seats sit further back than in rivals to boost leg and headroom – there’s 200mm more legroom than in the current Range Rover. Upright side windows add to the feeling of space and make it easier for the driver to gauge the car’s size – which is substantial.

The Bentley is taller and wider than a Cayenne, but lower and narrower than a Range Rover. It’s longer than both, with a longer wheelbase, too.

Outside, a wide matrix mesh grille is flanked by large Mulsanne-style circular lights. Under the headlamps sit similarly-sized circular air intakes, surrounded by LED daytime running lights.

The traditional Bentley ‘catwalk’ bonnet crease runs from the outside of the grille to the edges of the wide, upright windscreen. Further styling lines are fed from the headlights, wrapping around the side of the car with side vents inspired by the Bentley flying B.

Muscular Continental GT-style rear haunches are nicely integrated into the sides, but an inelegant roof spoiler is necessary to boost downforce at high speed.

The square rear lights look clunky until they’re switched on when they resemble a fighter jet’s afterburner. Chunky twin exhausts are integrated into metal under the bumper, which also features at the front and sides of the car.

The 23-inch turbine-style alloys with 800mm diameter tyres are clearly performance orientated, while there will be a sporty feel to the steering: “effortless driving, but not effortless steering,” according to Bentley engineering chief Rolf Frech. Yet the car will still be a proper off-roader, with Frech adding: “We have to show we can be good off road. If we build an SUV, it’ll be a real SUV, not a fake.”

After Geneva the car will go to China for the Beijing Motor Show, then to the middle east, mainland Europe and back to the UK. Dürheimer says the US will be the main market, followed by China, but there would be strong interest in the UK. He also says he could see the 4x4 in the Royal garage, alongside the other Bentleys already there.

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This looks like one of those awful copycat mash-ups from China!

I'd feel like an idiot spending a lot of money on this.

I actually thought it was April 1st!

it's a pumped up Austin Maxi!!

At least it's a concept. The likelihood is that it will look nothing like this in 3 years time.


It's absolutely hideous!!!

Aargh! My eyes! It's a visual carbuncle on the backside of automotive styling. Jesus, it's nice to see money doesn't buy taste.

Surely someone at Bentley is having a joke?

... appropriately, since this could be the death of Bentley.

(2) Pimp it some (as the street boys say)
(3) Pimp it some more
(4) Repeat as required

Nice picnic box, though....

This is the funniest thing I've seen in ages. It makes a Porsche look tasteful, which is no mean feat. The clowns that have the money will probably lap it up.
"all the controls are made extra big' - it's not so you can wear gloves, it's because it will be driven by gorillas!
VW must really hate Bentley.

I'm really, really cross that gavsmit has nicked my comment which came to mind immediately I saw the caption picture. What did the call that big Austin Maxi thing with a boot and a 3-litre engine they built in the 19 whatsits, Bentley must have found the plans.

I bet you can buy a T72 for this money and still have an ugly tank.

After a few years of beautiful cars, it seems like the Bentley designer team have lost their mojo. There's hundreds of excellent designers looking for jobs, time to give someone else a chance.

To me it looks like two different cars have been welded together forming a "cut and shut". Surely one of the most ugliest SUV's ever conceived. Ssang Yong eat your hearts out!

I think you mean the Austin Morris 1800 & 2200, affectionately called the Landcrab. This is a worthy successor - they'd have to pay me £140,000 to buy one, and I'd still want to wear a bag on my head. Better yet, put the car in a bag - a bin bag.
Bentley: no, just no.

WTF are they thinking of.
It looks like a concept car from 30 years ago. Even a dim witted footballer would turn his nose up at this.
Maybe they'll sell these in America where big and tasteless rules.
Who styled this? Abu Hanza

I know where I've seen this now!!
It's from that programme with Leepu and Bernie. Chop Shop and Bangla Bangers.
It's that mad Indians latest creation!!!

a few years after that 'wonderful' Ssanyong Van, then comes direct competition from Bentley... this is the one of those Clarkson used to call 'the one that makes your children cry when you bring it home'... glad I dont have the money to buy it!!

It's only a concept. Ya'll don't think they are that daft at VW to build this mess...........or are the german's going to have the last laugh. They did it on themself's with the Maybach.

I'll be keeping my R/R Autobiography thank's.

You must have missed all the other boring VW Group cars out there - so VW do get it wrong. This one isn't boring, but definitely ugly.

This is absolutely ghastly? In the static pic under the headline it looks like an oversized pastiche to the Austin 1100 (a great car in 1960's I hasten to add) but that was 50 years ago and this is a Bentley? A total mess and no doubt the super-rich with more money than sense will be lining up for this monstrosity just like they did for the Porsche Caveman...

Is it me, or does this look like one of them designs that you used to see in the seventies that never ever made it!!?? (I was born in the seventies, but seen a lot of designs). In fact it does look like an old Jeep Cherokee Chief??
Do you get the champers with it?

Lets hope sales drop like a stone if they go ahead with this abortion of a vehicle. When the sales have fallen and VW want to shift Bentley the staff can buy it for a song and produce proper BRITISH Bentleys and not some German S***, as the original mini fraternity would say.
This has to be some kind of wind up unless its for sale at £29,999 and is battery powered no one in the uk except Alan Sugar and the Chelsea boss could afford one let alone run it.

Is someone taking the urine?
This is without doubt the ugliest car i've seen.
Even the Chinese and Americans could do better.

To be fully honest I think the Bentley SUV looks alright front the front, and the side profile looks muscular and very like Range Rover. But what the hell is going off with the rear, it looks to Audi/VW with the square lights and bland lines.

Sorry OriginalMillsy but are we looking at the same photos? It looks god awful from the front and tragic from the side. It's a SsangYong Rhodius with a few Bentley bits nailed on.
The only benefit I can see from owning one of these mutants is that if you were involved in a particularly bad smash, nobody would be any the wiser.

At least the interior is lovely, which would give you some comfort from all those people who were mocking you from the outside for buying something that looks like a cut and shut job between two or three 1970s kit cars..

I can't believe Bentley are going to produce something so UGLY! It's like a London taxi! More to the point, anyone remember the Renault 16???

Never before in the History of Car Reviews have all respondents come to the same drastic conclusion. This is the car from Hell. The one that would make you sell your house if your neighbour bought one and parked it next to yours. Surely this is the ghost of Austin Morris come back to haunt us. Hideous doesn't even begin to describe this monstrosity. Has the cow pox suddenly transmuted to humans and started in Germany. What other explanation can there be? it's truly laughable. Or would be if Bentley wasn't once a truly prestigious badge.

Oh Steve, you must have screamed and lamented, getting the short straw on this deuzzi.
Tooyoo......indeed fellow poster, but does anyone take notice?
To two earlier posters re the Austin analogy.....there was a HUGE landcrab called simply the 3 Litre, the modern, then, version of the Wolseley/Westminster/ Princess, on fluid. By significant coincidence the 3Litre had a 'chinese style' 4 light headlight arrangement, very similar to the old chinese eye Bentley.
The enormous question must surely be, "will this vehicle grow the cake in this segment, or no more than steal market share off another player??" I know that answer. So now its two 70,000 pound picnic sets, and a monstrously unattractive way to carry them. I seriously question whether people will buy this vehicle to jamb 3 people in the rear. It has a very bad blindspot from a large front A-pillar. Forward of the front door its a mess of blistered and extended wheel arches. Along the side is the default de rigeur rising strake, as if this double-brick could ever look like a wedge. Is it on overkill wheels instead of a jacked-up suspension? Tricky fellas. If they were worth their salt at Bentley/VW there would not have been a need for an inelegant roof would have extended/retracted into the roof. God-damn, Porsche must know just about all there is to know about extending spoilers. Even the Conti has one that extends/retracts. Based on the rubberband tyres visible, this vehicle will have absolutely zero pretensions at being off-roadable, or even worthy of the totally wanky moniker of suv. SURELY VW learnt all it will ever need to know, and forget, about suv's, with the Toe-rag and Aye-canne. I'm completely bamboozled about what it is the tossers that manufacture anything of this ilk......grossly ineffiecient bricks.......dont understand about the world having PASSED critical mass of oil reserves!! How irresponsible can car makers be???

And completely irrationally, I still want a Conti :-))

It looks like a hideously disfigured British Leyland product that has overtones of a Trabant & "For The Blind Chinese Nouveau Super Rich" stamped all over it!
I hope it's "just" a concept meant to simply preview the underpinnings & tech. This car would be a blot on Bentley's Proud Heritage & quite frankly they at VW should know better & could do better!!

What a waste of resources !
An UGLY BRUTE is an understatement !

Are journalists getting so lazy they are not allowed to give an opinion on what has to be the most ridiculous looking creation in years?

I think this monster will actually be made in Germany and pretty much built for newly wealthy Chinese. Sad to see the Bentley mascot on this thing but if it means at least some work for UK PLC I hope it sells well. And that I never have to look at one.
As an aside many of us are a bit nasty over newly rich Chinese, but good luck to them. Our Victorian forebear entrepreneurs were sometimes guilty of horrific taste too.

the designer(s) (if there were any!) of this monster should be put to prison for eternity!

Also the Geneva Motor Show excecutives should be charged with indecent exposure for allowing Bentley to brutalize our aesthetics.

As for the journalist, I take that the smile on his face was out of trying to keep himself from laughing!

Saw the mini picture in my email inbox and thought it was a joke but shocked that this is actually a rea motor! Are they serious? People who can afford one of these should keep their none 4X4 and drive around in a Range Rover!

Why would anyone want to take this motor off road? Look at the leather in the boot, you wouldn't dare but your green dirty boots in there and the dashboard (which I admit it lovely) would be covered in dirt from a picknick in the countryside! This isn't aimed at range rover 4X4 drivers so really dont see the point. Did the reporter mention it will compete with Ford at the beginning or am I hearing things? Ford make a 4X4 to compete with a Bentley? China and the Premier League.

Nuff said. Appalling.

WOW - I can't believe it, I normally have mild disagreement with correspondents to this site because of their apparent overt negativity but this lot takes the biscuit.
I can't unreservedly claim that I like it entirely, because I have an issue with the 'bling' interior but the overall design is, I find, most pleasing. If I could afford one I would order it tomorrow.
If they lose the spotlights in the front, keep the dash, the wheel and the seating but moderate the upholstery and gimmickry then I would most definitely choose this before a RR or a Cayenne.
I suspect all the others who have commented are genY whereas I am a septuagenarian. I have owned more than fifty cars, driven over a million miles and still have a heavy right boot; my daily car is a CLK350cab but as I said before if money were no object I would buy this.
So to hell with the rest of you, this is a unique car for unique people.

What's wrong with a Bently that has a front end that looks like a 60s Studebaker Lark grafted on to a Audi Q7 with Bently rear fenders.

Who let the DOG out? Dirk van Braeckel, Really!!!

i love the interior, and the shape and rear is fine, but the headlights look hidous!! Really horrible. After the new design-successes such as the GT cont. you'd think they would make an even better looking SUV. Although i think it would look mean in black.

This is another attempt of VAG to kill a competitor. They really can't allow sunlight in someone else's eyes, das Auto conquer it all..
Hope it won't work out. The same time they present the Bentley they present a VW Cross Coupe which they compare with a Range Rover. So they create the general impression you need to compare a VW with a Range Rover and present this ugly monster as a car above a Range Rover. The impression people must have is that it's bigger, more luxury, more etc... so it doesn't have to look nice. In fact this is so cheap, so old fashion marketing. For goodness we're living in the 21th century not in 1940. But they got the attention of the press and that was all about...

...for the Ant Hill Mob

I've never been so horrified, queasy and so bored in all my life...

Erm.. lovely interior.... but what a pig's ear of a car

What exactly are they thinking of?
Hint: Bentley please wake up. WAKE UP!

Bentleys are supposed to be grand, elegant cars -remember that from the mists of time?

It looks a though a gang of intellectually challenged , coked up rap artists have been let loose and having a bash at learning to draw a car for the first time with an Etch-a-Sketch and crayons, er innit ?

Re Jonnym71's comments..he is right -it's a pimped Maxi!,
At least the Maxi had a purpose, a meaning and was less embarrassing than this horror.

Well they could probably sell some .. to a DFS boss or or someone who thinks prawn cocktails are the height of sophistication in Dubai
£140 k? Ha ha ha! Oh well..

Back to the drawing board guys.You can't polish a turd

What an absolute minger. All it needs it some mahoghany side panels and its 1970's station wagons all over again. When car manufacturers start over-sizing the front end of an existing production car and slapping a hatch back on it and calling it a 4x4 you know theyre short on design inspiration. Look at how Porsche has bastardised the 911 front end across its entire range.

very cool..just built d'damn worry bentley, these people can't afford it anyway...

This car will sell in volume and sadly that's all that matters to Bentley management. Buyers in the Middle East, China, the Premier League, rap artists and drug barons will be queuing up at their local Bentley dealership. The latter categories will no doubt be dissapointed with the small size of the 23 inch alloys and look to upgrade in order to further enhance the car's appearance. I seem to remember that the first Cayenne was also deemed hideous by most but that didn't put people off. Range Rover drivers will just smile and go about their business after all you can't buy class.

this is not at all classy why have they created a four by four which you wouldn't want to go off road on because you wouldn't want to scratch it. This car looks sluggish and ugly! just looks like a phantom with big wheels

This is a hidious car, very like many still born BMC 1960's designs, what were they thinking? This was always what we feared we could expect from either German owned Rolls Royce or Bentley, as it is Bently fluffed it up first! Get a grip guys!

Bentley and Rolls Royce, these brands will suffer a downgrading in the market by becoming volume cars .
Rolls Royce's new 4X4 is A JOKE it looks like a mini on steroids that is not what Rolls Royce is about,Bentley's SUV is just a continuation on the road to being a volume car and it looks like an angry FROG .