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Bentley EXP 9 F concept: No sir, I don't like it (photos)

The brand behind the Flying B dips its toe into the SUV market. The resulting concept car isn't pretty.

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Antuan Goodwin
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Bentley EXP 9 F concept

If you're like me, you're probably wondering, "Why the heck would a brand like Bentley want to build an SUV?"

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Bentley EXP 9 F concept

If you're like Bentley's product development department, you're probably thinking, "Hey, it worked for Porsche with the Cayenne, and what's good for the goose of the VW group is surely good for the gander! Perhaps a new SUV model can give the stodgy old Bentley brand a much-needed shot in the arm."

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Bentley EXP 9 F concept

The EXP 9 F awkwardly stretches styling cues cribbed from the Bentley Mulsanne and Continental over what I wouldn't be surprised to find is the same platform that underpins almost every VW-group large SUV, including the VW Touareg, the Audi Q7, and the Porsche Cayenne. (Of course, Bentley doesn't state this in its release, so I may be wrong, but I doubt it.)

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Bentley EXP 9 F concept

A turbine theme pops up here and there in the EXP 9 F's design. You may have seen it on the headlights earlier, but nowhere is it more prominent than on the SUV's 23-inch chrome turbine wheels.

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Bentley EXP 9 F concept

Fender vents integrate Bentley's Flying B icon in their design, forming what I think is the coolest element of the EXP 9 F's hodgepodge of design cues. I'm no fan of ornamental fender vents, but I'd definitely like to see Bentley keep using this bit.

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Bentley EXP 9 F concept

Around back, the EXP 9 F takes on an almost completely different aesthetic--it's as though this end were designed by a completely different person.

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Bentley EXP 9 F concept

Where the front end was dominated by circles and a turbine theme, the rear end is populated with ovals and squares. To be fair, the EXP 9 F's rear end doesn't look bad, it just looks out of place when compared with the front end.

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Bentley EXP 9 F concept

There's an attempt to echo the turbine theme here in the tail lamps, but it's just not enough to tie the two ends of the vehicle together stylistically.

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Bentley EXP 9 F concept

Fortunately, the interior is adorned with the rich leathers and woods that we've come to expect from Bentley vehicles. If there were a place to stick to the tried-and-true Bentley script, the cabin was it.

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Bentley EXP 9 F concept

The driver is treated to a fully integrated infotainment system. However, rear-seat entertainment and a sweeping glass roof work together to make the back seat of the EXP 9 F the preferred traveling location.

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Bentley EXP 9 F concept

With an interior this nice, you may find yourself wanting to spend a good deal of time inside the 9 F--which is awesome because at least then you won't have to see the exterior of the vehicle.

But that's just my opinion. Maybe you like the look of the Bentley EXP 9 F. If so, sound off in the comments below.

Back to 2012 Geneva auto show.

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12 of 12 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Bentley EXP 9 F concept

You'll notice that we've made no mention of the Bentley EXP 9 F's power train and that's because the 6-liter twin turbo W-12 engine that motivates the SUV is the very same mill that's been motivating Continental GTs since about 2003. At least the eight-speed automatic gearbox is newer; it debuted on the 2011 Continental GT.

Back to 2012 Geneva auto show.

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