Bentley’s latest new platform, the 9F “concept” SUV shown earlier this year, has met with … I think “mixed reviews” is the polite way of saying that everyone hated it, right? Anyway, everyone hated it, and Bentley’s hoping you’ll give it a second chance by thinking of it as “slow and green” instead of “fast and expensive”.
DO you see the problem Bentley has?
The problem, of course, is that Bentleys are supposed to be fast, bespoke examples of fine English craftsmanship and thundering displays horsepower that hearken back to the glory days of Walter O. and the gentlemen racers of the 1920s and 30s. Sure, the company was bought out by Nazi staff-car builders a few years ago and the latest Bentley Continental has more in common with a Volkswagen Phaeton than it does with the classic Turbo R, but most people have never even heard of a Volkswagen Phaeton (the model on which the Conti was based) so where’s the harm in Bentley going dumpster-diving behind the VW factory for its SUV, as well?
The harm, of course, is that the “experimental” 9F SUV that Bentley trotted out absolutely stinks of “people’s car”. It’s a Touareg under the skin, of course, no matter how much Bentley would rather you think “Audi Q7” or “Porsche Cayenne” when you consider the 9F’s lineage, it’s the Volkswagen Touareg (I think) that’s most visible.
To their credit, the Bentley boys are trying to turn the buzz surrounding the 9F around the same way the Bugatti crew did when their corporate masters at VW started counting beans: they downplayed the go-fast, and started playing up the go-green.
According to Wolfgang Dürheimer (Chairman and CEO of Bentley Motors), “Everyone (at Bentley) seems to agree that an SUV is a natural fit for Bentley. An exciting range of drivetrain options including a hybrid V6 are under active consideration.”
Unfortunately for Wolfy, the internets haz memories: a year ago, when the big Bentley was first being talked up and drawings of the thing were being shopped around to douchebag Saudi princes, there was an auspicious lack of green tech talk surrounding the 3 ton SUV. Auspicious enough, in fact, to have me questioning whether my whole “green is the new fast” angle was (gasp!) wrong.
All is right with the world.
If your stomach can take it, feel free to check out a new gallery of Bentley SUV images, below. “Enjoy.”
To wit: Bentley claims the new V6 hybrid version of their SUV can go 30 km in EV-only mode, and spits out less than 130 c/km of CO2. No official performance figures were released, of course, because the hybrid drivetrain doesn’t exist.
Source: Bentley, via TechVehi.