New Bentley 4x4 SUV
Bentley has placed its long-rumoured bet in the luxury SUV game with a dramatic new 4x4 concept car, unveiled for the first time at a pre-show event the night before the Geneva Motor Show - a car that Bentley claims "feels equally at home at an opera gala performance, on the sand dunes and the overtaking lane of the autobahn."
The EXP 9 F concept car could herald a third Bentley model-line alongside the bespoke Mulsanne and the high performance Continental GT, GTC and Flying Spur.
So to answer the question, "Is the Bentley 4x4 for sale yet and what's the price?" we wil have to answer 'not yet' and 'quite a lot - at least £150,000."
Although the front is strongly suggestive of a Bentley, the vast 23-inch alloy wheels raised some eyebrows in the assembled crowd.
Of them, Bentley says "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."
The EXP 9 F concept is based around the familiar Bentley W12 twin-tubro 6-litre with an 8-speed transmission, both the company's recently-launched 4-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 or a hybrid drivetrain could meet the performance requirements of a pinnacle luxury SUV.
"We are very excited by the potential of a high performance, ultra-luxury Bentley SUV," said Wolfgang Dürheimer, chief executive of Bentley.
"We know that many Bentley customers already own SUVs, admiring their style, luxury, performance and versatility. With EXP 9 F, Bentley is making a clear statement of intent that we have both the expertise and desire to meet and exceed their expectations."
Inside the EXP 9 F, the car is packed with Bentley's familiar combination of wood, leather and polished metals such as aluminium, bronze and gunmetal. Soft-touch leather contrasts with highly durable surfaces - while experimenta design focuses on saddle leather for seat backs, top roll and loadspace - while analogue bezels and dials are paired with TFT virtual instrumentation, as used in cars like the current Mercedes S-Class.
While this car is a concept, there is clear demand for the car and it is almost certain it will go on sale within the next two or three years, with fast-growing markets like Russia and Asia being in the company's cross-hairs. Price? Well, if you need to ask you probably can't afford it, but don't expect much change from £150,000.
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