Geneva: Bentley EXP 9 F
The Bentley SUV – wether we like it or not – is the future. At least, it’s the future of car exports from Europe to the new frontiers of capital. That’s right, a hundred plus years ago Bentley might have been a glimmer in the eye of the British Empire – you know, that thing upon which the sun never set and the idea of ethical or free trade never flickered across an ermine and scarlet clad consciousness. The new frontiers are, you guessed it, the emerging economies of China, India and Brazil.
Bentley as a brand may have represented bling before bling was bling – and now in a sense represents the quintessence of Premiership bravado, but with the traditional markets of uber-privileged folk of Europe and North America creaking under the weight of financial chaos and mismanagement, the smart money rightly identifies that all things premium must look to this new and emerging Empire for its patronage.
And premium this thing certainly is. The upper echelons of the range will come with a 600 HP W12 -and though there will be diesels and plug-in hybrid options, each of them won’t slouch on the trim, to say the least.
“We want the car to be the most prestigious, fastest, most powerful SUV money can buy,” Bentley boss Wolgang Dürheimer told press at the Geneva show last week… “…there are no precedents for this car, but we are convinced it will work…”
It’s not as if, after all, that even America is a ‘dead’ market for Bentley. According to the boss, there are 23,000 active Bentley customers with whom they in constant communication. But is an 180MPH SUV really necessary? “We think [speed] sells cars,” Dürheimer went on, “for lots of people, fastest is best. I think this car will probably outsell the Mulsanne.”
And even the most ethical motorists out there would admit the design is pretty spectacular. According to Bentley designers were inspired not only by the more functional nature of the concept but by the ‘visible engineering’ of the famous Blower Bentleys.
Day-time running lamp apertures also act as the charge cooler air intakes for the twin-turbo W12 engine, each with a dramatic, mesh-covered turbine fan design and ‘rifled’ inner surface finish. The turbine theme continues with 23-inch alloys, the design of which complements the sculptured coachwork. The multiple spokes are reminiscent of the shape of turbine fan blades while the centrally mounted wheel nut is a visual reference both to Bentley’s Le Mans racers of the 1920s with centre-lock spinner and to the single nut found on the modern-day Speed 8’s high-tech racing alloys.
At the rear, the swooping lines of the tailgate avoid utilitarian overtones in favour of a distinctly sporting profile, while the ultra-wide, two-part split tailgate offers a high level of versatility when grand touring. The bold design language is complemented by twin exhaust tailpipes with ‘rifled’ inner surfaces, their elliptical shapes echoing those of the rear light clusters.The rear lights are inspired by the forms and details of fighter jet engines, uniquely designed so that they glow from within, spreading their light outwards.
Thing is, it’s only against the grain if you sit in the downtrodden, perspective of put-upon Western worker. If you’re at the dizzying heights of the new Capitalist revolution, however (or the Champions League) it makes perfect and utter sense.
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