by Wallace Wyss –
It is not surprising that Bentley, at the Geneva Salon of 2017, in the second incarnation of the EXP 10 Speed Six concept, would bring us a convertible version, but it is surprising that it is an electrically powered one.
That comes out of left field, when we are used to Bentleys bragging about horsepower and torque.
One wag commented that it is a stab toward Tesla, Tesla dominating the electric luxury car market but they lack a convertible in the lineup and one wonders how soon they could schedule one since they haven’t even started on the Model 3 production. They would be mightily criticized for starting in that direction when Model 3 customers have many orders logged.
It wouldn’t be that big a step financially for Bentley since the spade work on electric cars is already being done by parent company VW and near relative Audi. I could almost say, when their cars reach the market, Tesla is history but Elon Musk has a history of pulling rabbits out of hats….
But this may just be a feint for Bentley; oh, not that they won’t offer an electric version, it’s just that it allows them to premiere a new model in a totally politically correct format, i.e. Non-polluting.
Here’s some comments about the Bentley Electric Convertible design, judging from pictures.
FRONT Much the same as the coupe concept, with no real resolution of a more legal looking headlamp. Again they have the turn signal with an oval LED surround which I find distracting.
SIDE Again the side sculpturing as on the coupe, but, from the side, the car is looking remarkably more and more like the current Chevrolet Camaro convertible a car which would be about one sixth the price (and yet offer performance in the 150 mph range, depending on the engine chosen). What are we making here—British musclecars to compete with Yankee tin?
REAR The rear is changed the most from the coupe concept, no longer featuring stylized chrome exhaust tips, as of course there are no exhausts in an electric car (silly me!). The huge rear vents are presumably funneling air out of the wheelwells. They have thankfully eschewed having a rear tail spoiler added on, though one wonders if that will appear by the time of production.
You have to think about that if the top speed is, say, above 150 MPH. (Or don’t you even mention top speed in an electric car?). The rear deck has two very low headrest blisters (rising humps) which appear to be covered with upholstery material, similar to some Aston open cars in the recent past. The car is a two seater and these headrest humps come right up to within a couple inches of the seatbacks.
THE INTERIOR The coupe, which made its debut a couple of years ago, was really overdone in the interior—bling-upon-bling so to speak. This open car is more modest, still with the diamond tufted door panels of the coupe but without all the myriad of glittery things that made it hard to look at the interior of the coupe without sunglasses.
Not too sure if that ¾ of a steering wheel rather than a full round one would pass muster in all countries (do they think electric cars need less steering?). The dashboard does not look particularly Bentley like and I have to say it departs too far for me from Bentley tradition (which is wood somewhere, and white on black lettering in circular gauges).
Overall, the Bentley Electric Convertible is a pleasant enough entry for Bentley into the two seater world, though part of me refuses to believe they will actually go head to head with other two seaters like Aston, Ferrari, Maserati and some Mercedes models because their car still weighs a lot; and can’t compete in pure performance, while it can hold its own in luxury performance.
The introduction of a gasoline burning version of this design will be the next step; and then we will see if that comes to pass if a.) they stick to a two seater b.) they come up with headlights that look like they would meet specifications in the key markets.
In sum, I am giving it an eight points out of ten, ten being best, because it firmly moves them away from the curved front prow of the GTC Continental but somehow it lacks the bold impact that the coupe had; do we get jaded so fast?
Let us know what you think about the Bentley Electric Convertible in the Comments.
THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss’ newest book is Porsche 356 Photo Album. Those who wish to be on the notification list for when it’s published can contact Enthusiast Books (715) 381 9755.