Bentley’s centenary gift to itself
Luxury gets a dose of AI and electric power in the Bentley GT of the future, writes Denis Droppa
To celebrate its centenary on July 10, Bentley unveiled its vision of an electric grand tourer of the future. The EXP 100 GT bundles all of the British marque’s high-end luxury into a battery-powered vehicle with a 700km range and artificial intelligence (AI) to take care of all your needs.
Unveiled last week at Bentley’s home in Crewe, UK, the EXP 100 GT is described as a physical embodiment of the future Bentley brand. Aspirant customers have enough time to start saving up, as this concept looks ahead to 2035.
“Beyond mere mobility, the Bentley EXP 100 GT concept car will enhance the owner’s Grand Touring experience, whether driving or being driven autonomously,” says a Bentley spokesperson.
The cabin will feature the brand’s quintessential luxury combined with AI known as the Bentley personal assistant.
As a brand known for its powerful fuel-guzzling cars, this is Bentley’s first foray into the more planet-friendly realm of electric power, and the eco-awareness is further realised with the choice of “sustainable luxury” materials in the concept car’s construction.
These include 5,000-year-old copper-infused riverwood from naturally fallen trees, exterior paint made from recycled rice husks, organic leather-like textile from wine making, British-farmed wool carpets, and embroidered cotton interior surfaces.
Stefan Sielaff, Bentley’s director of design, said: “The Bentley EXP 100 GT represents the kind of cars we want to make in the future. Like those iconic Bentleys of the past, this car connects with its passengers’ emotions and helps them experience and safeguard the memories of the really extraordinary journeys they take.”
Instantly recognisable as a Bentley, the concept car puts a futuristic spin on long-held brand design cues such as the bluff and muscular shape, and the famous R-Type Continental haunch. Round lights that overlap the giant grille in a nod to the Bentley Blower and a graceful 5.8m-long body hint at famous models of yesteryear.
Supercar-style scissor doors give the luxury GT a sporty edge and the car is made from modern materials such as lightweight aluminium and carbon fibre, further enhanced by decorative features crafted from copper and aluminium.
The doors pivot outwards and upwards for easy access. Fully open, they rise to almost 3m to create a sense of occasion if not necessarily the best practicality in low-roofed garages.
The car comes alive in an illuminated show as one approaches the car, with light playing across the grille, the Flying B mascot, along the bonnet central spine, and into the cabin itself.
The lighting spectacle continues inside with a glass roof embedded with prisms that collect light and transfer it into the cabin using fibre optics. Ambient lighting includes various effects that can be projected onto interior surfaces.
The cockpit takes handcrafted luxury to the next level, says Bentley, with imperceptible joins between materials such as wood, leather and wool. Rotary switches fashioned from copper and aluminium add tactility in a digital world.
The Bentley personal assistant can maximise comfort based on its knowledge of its owner. For example, reactive seat surfaces respond to your position during driving, automatically offering more support.
The in-car displays feature augmented reality, and a front entertainment screen can display videos when the car is in autonomous driving mode.
The battery system will power four motors with 1,500Nm torque for a 0-100km time of less than 2.5 seconds and a top speed of 300km/h.
Torque vectoring will manage the power between the four motors to maximise the 1.9-ton vehicle’s cornering ability.
Bentley says that future battery technology will offer five times the conventional energy density, and charging the car to 80% of capacity will take only 15 minutes.
Other futuristic fare will include active aero wheels that adjust to deliver efficiency or performance, and intelligent Pirelli tyres that adapt their contact patches based on weather conditions or driver demand.
When the car is in autonomous driving mode, the seat swivels rearward and the steering wheel retracts into the dashboard.
The unveiling of the EXP 100 GT forms part of Bentley’s centenary celebrations, which will involve a year-long series of special activities globally.