Bentley EXP 100 GT - Back to the Future
As the centrepiece of Bentley’s centenary celebrations, the company presented its vision of grand touring 16 years from now, embodied in a sleek, muscular and futuristic but also realistic concept car dubbed EXP 100 GT.
In front of an assembled audience of hundreds the concept inched forward, seemed to get stage fright and refused to move any further to the bemusement of all. Evidently human error was behind the misfire. Perhaps that’s in some way appropriate because this concept previews an autonomous car, removing the possibility of human error from the equation.
However, it is also one that should drive like the wind and leave no imprint on the environment. Styled by a team led by Bentley’s chief of design, Stefan Sielaff, the 5.8m long, 2.4m wide low-flying vision of a future GT rides on massive aero-optimised 26-inch wheels, features scissor-style doors for a grand entrance, and should be scaldingly quick.
All the technology envisioned for the car is based upon what is expected to be available by 2036. Bentley plans to have electrified models across the range by 2023, initially using plug-in hybrids - the first, the Bentayga hybrid is soon to launch - but it sees BEVs and fuel cell vehicles as the most likely powertrains for the future.
The EXP 100 GT will employ a battery with five times the power density of existing lithium-ion units, likely a solid state device. Capable of being recharged to 80 per cent within 15 min, it will power four 125kW motors and deliver 1500Nm of torque. Because the vehicle superstructure is composed primarily of aluminium and carbon fibre, it should weigh in at around 1900kg and will likely hit highway rates in under 2.5sec. It will also have a touring range expected to exceed 700km.
Sustainability is a key goal for both production and the running of this future grand tourer. It will be emissions free, naturally, but will also be built of sustainable materials. Paint pigment, for instance, is produced from recycled rice husk ash, a byproduct of the rice industry.
Aspects of this forward-thinking vehicle are likely to turn up in next-generation Bentleys. It is clearly recognisable as a Bentley with the round headlights, matrix grille (here illuminated), and Flying B mascot, all of which come to life as the owner approaches. At the rear, a 3D OLED screen contains the rear lamps and can be used for messaging those behind.
A mix of bold character lines and sculpted surfaces, along with its imposing dimensions, imparts a dramatic look but the interior is even more futuristic. Because space is freed up by the compact motors this four seater has variable interior configurations. Materials are chosen for sustainability and luxurious tactility, with a mix of wood, leather and leather-like textiles. An AI-enhanced Bentley Personal Assistant pre-empts passenger needs, monitors well-being using biometric sensors, and optimises seat comfort for individual occupants. A fully glazed roof includes prisms to collect light and relay it to the cabin by fibre optics.
Expect this future GT to drive like the wind. Four-wheeled active torque vectoring, 50 per cent more power and 35 per cent less weight than Bentley’s current GTs suggest highly effective cornering.
Commenting on the next 100 years, the CEO of Bentley Motors, Adrian Hallmark, said “We believe the love affair with the automobile will still be relevant in the future of luxury travel and we relish the challenge of new energy vehicles which confine emissions issues to the history books.
“Bentley’s future will be as inspiring, as progressive, as colourful and as distinctive as our history. Extraordinary journeys are our promise to customers now and will be our promise to them in the future”.
Director of Design, Stefan Sielaff, remarked “This is grand touring reimagined, a vision of an autonomous GT that you can still enjoy driving. The EXP 100 GT honours 100 extraordinary years of Bentley but at the same time delivers a vision of what kind of brand we will become in the future.
Of all the concept cars I have worked on this is the one of which I am most proud."