by Wallace Wyss –
When you are building one of the most luxurious cars in the world, you have two audiences—the one that likes everything traditional, i.e. a gradual evolution of the existing design and then you have those who want the latest shape even if it throws the old design out the window. The Bentley EXP 10 Speed Six was a concept car introduced in 2015.
I would say the current Bentley GTC has served its makers well, but I think the Bentley fans are amenable to welcoming a new shape. I also think the Bentley EXP 10 Speed Six prototype will, by virtue of having a more aggressive shape, penetrate to a lower aged clientele and thus expand the market for Bentley.
The Bentley EXP 10 Speed Six concept car was first unveiled at the 2015 Geneva International Motor Show. It’s rather complicated to explain what EXP 10 means, suffice it to say they used to number their experimental cars and this carries on the tradition.
The Speed Six is a reference to a high performance model made before WWII. Though the name is storied in their history, I wouldn’t use it on the production version because if it had a V8 it would be confusing.
This Bentley EXP 10 Speed Six version is more “selfish” than any other current Bentley in that it’s a two seater sports car, not a four seater. I think that’s one thing that will go before production because it limits the market too much, though it could always be brought back as an option.
The following is my design analysis, beginning with my first take of the front end based on available images…
FRONT: This car boasts very dramatic headlights which seem like from another world compared to lights on U.S. cars (whether these would be U.S. legal might be another matter…).
I wouldn’t have put the LED lit-up surround around the turn signal lamps however. They don’t need attention called to them and as they are now they compete for attention with the headlamps when they have their own illuminated surround. The non-reflective mesh grille is in keeping with racing Bentleys going back to the prewar “Bentley Boys” days.
SIDE: While the side sculpturing is an interesting shape, doesn’t the current Camaro have the same side sculpturing? You don’t want to have your $200,000 car look like a $20,000 car. The wheels look like American-made mags–nothing Euro about them–too much what I expect to see on a Camaro.
REAR: The horizontal taillights are a change but again, doesn’t the new 2016 Camaro have horizontal taillamps? Much more exquisite—and what you expect on a Bentley– is the dual exhausts and the brushed metal piece that joins them. The Brits are the kings of restrained use of trim.
INTERIOR: This is one of the most beautiful interiors of any show car, though it has enough ideas for three or four prototypes. Copper elements are used as accents to both exterior and interior features. Bentley’s renowned quilted leather seems cornball at first but then you realize that’s adding sportiness to the interior. For example, the classic and purposeful Bentley knurled surface is a feature throughout the controls of the car, but now created using steel and copper together to create a two-metal 3D texture.
Continuing the fusion of traditional materials and contemporary design statements, the doors feature 3D quilting, milled directly in to solid straight-grain cherry wood. Each resulting diamond is finished with a copper center. The center console integrates digital information with tactile controls via a curved touch screen housed in an aluminum frame.
The Bentley EXP 10 Speed Six fascia instruments deploy from a flat position into the driver’s view as the car is started using the floating “B” button integrated in to a non-symmetrical gear lever finished in aluminum, copper and cherry wood.
A mechanical rev counter and digital display combine to provide what Bentley calls “the perfect balance of modern driver information and analogue beauty.”
OK they took out the rear seats that are in the present GTC but what went in their place? Two compartments designed to house a matching four-piece luggage set. The leather is Poltrona Frau.
PERFORMANCE: I would expect at least 175 mph top end if not just over 200 mph for the Bentley EXP 10 Speed Six. The problem is that it may have to include some hybrid technology to meet some future regulations. So features like cutting out the engine at traffic lights might be more important to automakers than top speed in the future. Not to mention autonomous features—will it have to be equipped to interact with those pesky autonomous cars?
IN SUM – Bentley EXP 10 Speed Six:… When they rolled this one out, Bentley was very vague about when it would be in production. I am now thinking 2018 or 2019. Domestically, they have nothing in the U.S. to challenge them unless Lincoln were to base a model on the Mustang or Cadillac to re-do the two seater V-series coupe.
Mercedes and Audi, though, will match them feature for feature, and even Lexus will have a model which stylistically will make a strong statement though it’s doubtful they will have a convertible, which is essential to the Bentley image.
Let us know what you think about the Bentley EXP 10 Speed Six in the Comments.
THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss, who has been a guest lecturer at the Art Center College of Design, is a fine artist whose oil paintings of classics are featured at Concorso Italiano. A list of available prints can be obtained by writing Photojournalistpro@gmail.com