No one would ever use the word "subtle" to describe the Bentley EXP 9 F. The newest vehicle from the British luxury automaker is large, brash and flashier than Elizabeth Taylor. It is hardly pretty, and yet, it's difficult to look away; there's so much to see that your eyes try desperately to absorb the sensation overload of all that chrome.
So today, when Bentley released new photos of the EXP 9 F Concept that will soon enter production, we began to envision a future in which the large SUV is populating the boulevards and country clubs of the world.
The new photos depict the EXP 9 F running roughshod over a dirt road, which, with a 6.0L twin-turbo W12 engine, it would certainly have no trouble doing. At the same time, it's unclear why the driver wouldn't choose to drive on the nicely-paved asphalt that's, like, right there – especially keeping the 23-inch turbine alloy wheels and handcrafted interior in mind.
Nevertheless, the EXP 9 F is literally new territory for Bentley as their first-ever SUV, and a key component for their future portfolio and relationship with parent company Volkswagen. The EXP 9 F will be built upon the same platform as the VW Touareg, Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne; each of which have been extremely successful for their respective brands.
It makes sense for VW to keep the platform available across as many brands as possible, a key strategy that was also an important factor in their recent takeover of Porsche. Are people ready for an SUV Bentley? Well, they were sure ready for an SUV Porsche, and VW is betting that the more performance-minded among us will be ready for an SUV Lamborghini as well. The SUV platform has been a veritable cash cow for VW.
Not that Bentley needs a desperate act. Just the opposite, in fact. Sales in Q2 2012 increased by 32-percent with significant growth in the U.S. and China, strong signs that the upper-class economy is not only back, but thriving and continuing to grow. Considering this, and the recent success of the VW SUV platform, the EXP 9 F could very well become the most profitable car that Bentley has ever produced. And, using the Camry theory discussed here previously, that means greater investment in new technology and the vehicles of tomorrow.
That's something we should all get behind, even if it takes a little brutishness to get us there.