The Geneva Auto Show hasn’t yet begun and Bentley has already stolen the show. Seriously. Just look at the car above. That’s the Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 and it is stunning!
Bentley unveiled the Speed 6 as a design study. It just happens to look like a car that could (should) go straight into production. Bentley calls the design a demonstration of “the future direction of luxury and performance” and a “concept for sector-defining two-seater sports car.” Their goal was to demonstrate how they could blend modern design, highly skilled craftsmanship and the finest materials and hybrid technology into a two seat sports car. What they’ve unveiled to the world is a look at the bolder, sportier Bentley.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at the car. Starting from 5o ft. back, you can easily see the classic Bentley design features. From the front, we see the four Bentley headlights, with the inner lights significantly larger that the outer lights. The lights appear to be LED with the Bentley name engraved in them. The grill has that classic Bentley wire mesh look but with a fresh modern shape that is only possible with state-of-the-art 3D printing techniques. In a nod to the car of the Bentley Boys era, the numeral ‘6″ is proudly painted in simple white paint on the radiator behind the grill.
The hood features scalloped venting and bold creases that flow over the front wheels and back toward the A pillar and the lower window line. In the biggest departure from the current lines of the Continental, the Speed 6 features deeply vented front quarter panels with lines the trail back towards the rear wheels. These give the car a very aggressive look and not-so-casually hint at the performance potential lurking beneath the sheet metal. The side of the car finishes off with some wide haunches over the large rear wheels.
The rear of the car gets a bit more interesting as the fastback window slops back to the trailing edge of the car. The rear glass opens as a frameless hatch to provide access to the rear cargo area. The car has a flat cargo area behind the front seats with specially made luggage for your personal belongings. In addition to room for your luggage, there is a not-so-unsubstantial brace connecting the rear shock towers, no doubt adding a significant amount of strength to the body.
The taillights are very interesting and are something that would look great on a production car. They are nice oval shape like what we’ve seen inside the taillights on the current Continental GT, but they stand out on their own. Below the lights, the exhaust tips echo the shape and size of the lights. Not only do the exhaust tips match the rest of the car’s features, but they features more fine details produced via a 3D printer in Bentley’s workshop and they are stunning themselves. Over all, the rear of the car is very nicely proportioned and looks considerably more athletic than the Continental GT’s rear section.
Although Bentley didn’t discuss the Speed 6’s engine and drivetrain at the show, we can see some hints on the car of what Bentley expects it could have. The exterior features copper accents and copper Bentley badges. If you recall, when Bentley debuted the Mulsanne Hybrid concept in China last year, it was covered in very unique copper accents as a head nod to its electric power train.
Thanks to Automobile magazine, who got some time on a runway with the car, we know that the concept itself was powered by an 4.2l V8 from the Audi R8 which was mated to the Audi RS5’s transmission. If we could be allowed to speculate on what the production car would have, we’d say the it would be propelled by Bentley’s twin turbo 4.0l V8 with hybrid motors to assist in acceleration and fuel mileage. If they wanted to go crazy, the car could be a hybrid W12 but it seems like achieving performance with a bit of improved fuel mileage seems like a more likely scenario.
Inside the Speed 6 is typical Bentley fare, which you know is anything but typical. Everything is wrapped in supple leather that has the look of classic British brindle leather. Combined with the dark green exterior, the car looks stunningly British. The seats appear to be thinner and lighter than typical Bentley seats. The look like maybe they were lifted from the Continental GT3-R and wrapped in the Bentley diamond quilting we all love. The dash features a strip of cherry wood and green and tan leather that flows around the modern looking interior. The concept’s door panels feature that classic Bentley diamond patter, this time not embroidered, but carved out of cherry wood panels.
The driver information package is fascinating and hopefully a look at what future Bentleys will have. The driver’s information gauges are a unique combination of digital and analogue. As the car is started via a floating “B” button in the gear lever, the car’s instruments deploy from a flat position into the drivers view. A mechanical rev counter and digital display combine to provide what Bentley calls “the perfect balance of modern driver information and analogue beauty”. It looks good to us! The center console has a Flying B adorned aluminum shifter and a curved touch screen housed in an aluminium frame to display the vehicle’s information. It is behind this curved display that we find an analogue clock stuck high up on the dashboard looking quite awkward and lost.
Wolfgang Dürheimer, chairman and chief executive of Bentley Motors, said about the car, “EXP 10 Speed 6 is one vision for Bentley’s future – a powerful, exquisite and individual concept. The show car has the potential to be the new pinnacle luxury two-seat sports car. It offers thrilling, driver-oriented performance, complete with trademark modern Bentley luxury and effortlessness.” The rest of his comments left some doubt about how Bentley will implement that design language presented. If you compare the Speed 6 side by side with the current generation Continental GT, you can clearly see the relation. It is possible Bentley will use some of this design language in the next generation GT. However, if early indicated demand is strong enough, Bentley could also turn this into a new model in their lineup. Potentially less costly than the GT or maybe they could take the One-77 route as Aston Martin did and sell a limited number of models for a ridiculous amount of money.
It’s obvious with Bentley’s winning GT racing program and the success of the Continental GT3-R, that Bentley is continuing to build on their sporty heritage. What becomes of this concept car remains to be seen. After today, however, it’s obvious that they’re heading in the right direction.
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