Bentley Em­braces the Evo­lu­tion

SLOW Magazine - - Contents - Text: Monique Vanderlinden Images © Bentley

Car man­u­fac­tur­ers world­wide are con­stantly be­ing pres­sured – by the in­dus­try as well as by cus­tomers – to re-ex­am­ine tra­di­tional en­gine ranges. In re­sponse to this, Bentley brought the all-elec­tric EXP 12 Speed 6e con­cept to the Geneva Mo­tor Show. The car is a drop-top which shows Bentley’s vi­sion of an elec­tri­fied fu­ture and what it thinks a bat­tery-pow­ered lux­ury tour­ing car will be.

De­signed in both con­cept and ex­e­cu­tion to trans­form the elec­tric ve­hi­cle (EV) sec­tor, this model fuses the un­ri­valled hand­crafts­man­ship for which Bentley is fa­mous with elec­tric per­for­mance, mag­nif­i­cent de­sign, and the range of a true grand tourer. The EXP 12 Speed 6e is a state­ment of Bentley’s in­ten­tion to cre­ate the world’s first lux­ury elec­tric sports car – and an overt in­vi­ta­tion for the pub­lic to pro­vide feed­back on Bentley’s vi­sion for the road ahead. Elec­tri­cally Fast Bentley views the EXP 12 Speed 6e as an en­tirely new for­mat for both ur­ban and open-road driv­ing, as elec­tric power pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity to ex­ceed the per­for­mance lim­its of cars built on the con­ven­tional com­bus­tion en­gine. From a stand­ing start, elec­tric mo­tors de­liver phe­nom­e­nal lev­els of torque, which trans­lates into phe­nom­e­nal ac­cel­er­a­tion.

The Speed 6e is es­sen­tially a drop-top vari­ant of the EXP 10 Speed 6 con­cept shown two years ago, and would be built with the ca­pac­ity to drive from Lon­don to Paris or Mi­lan to Monaco on a sin­gle charge. Charg­ing would be done via a plug-in port hid­den be­hind the rear li­cense plate, or via wire­less in­duc­tion. The Ex­te­rior Look The ex­te­rior body shell is a sleek ex­pres­sion of sports car de­sign, in­spired by con­tem­po­rary ar­chi­tec­ture, air­craft fuse­lages, and the geom­e­try of the nat­u­ral world.

A nat­u­ral evo­lu­tion of Bentley’s de­sign DNA, the car takes the mar­que’s trade­mark mus­cu­lar haunch and pow­er­line to ex­hil­a­rat­ing new heights. The short front over­hang, long bon­net, and wide, planted rear as­pect all con­trib­ute to an un­mis­tak­able sense of speed, while the iconic ma­trix grille fea­tures an ex­quis­ite smoked stain­less steel fin­ish.

Con­trast­ing cop­per high­lights are sub­tle ac­knowl­edge­ment of the car’s sta­tus as a fully elec­tric ve­hi­cle, and an il­lu­mi­nated “6” logo can be seen through the grille.

Through­out the car, form co­ex­ists with func­tion to sup­port a more sus­tain­able fu­ture. The twin bon­net scoops dou­ble as heat sinks, keep­ing the tem­per­a­ture of the car’s bat­ter­ies and driv­e­train down with­out the need for ad­di­tional cool­ing tech­nol­ogy. The In­side Scoop With this model, Bentley is mak­ing the state­ment that its fu­ture is one of in­no­va­tive ma­te­ri­als and in­ven­tive tech­nol­ogy.

The Speed 6e’s en­tire cen­tral tun­nel is hewn from a solid piece of glass, en­com­pass­ing a high-def­i­ni­tion OLED curved dis­play. All prin­ci­ple on-board con­trols are ac­ces­si­ble from here, in­clud­ing nav­i­ga­tion, en­ter­tain­ment, and cli­mate con­trol.

Mir­ror­ing the ex­te­rior of the car, cop­per de­tails pro­vide vis­ual in­ter­est through­out the cabin, adorn­ing the gear se­lec­tor and the Bentley Dy­namic Drive dial con­trol. Even the ve­neer pan­els in­side the doors fea­ture cop­per ac­cents, draw­ing the eye to the hand­crafted, nat­u­ral wood fin­ish.

The car man­u­fac­turer re­alises that to­mor­row’s lux­ury car cus­tomers will ex­pect in­tu­itive tech­nol­ogy and tra­di­tional crafts­man­ship to be in­te­grated seam­lessly – a de­mand that has dic­tated much of the Speed 6e’s de­sign. The wing mir­rors dis­pense with the usual re­flec­tive glass in favour of cam­eras, feed­ing vis­ual in­put di­rectly to the dash – another ex­am­ple of Bentley’s fu­ture de­sign di­rec­tion. A New Way of Think­ing and Driv­ing The EXP 12 Speed 6e is about much more than a car. The con­cept rep­re­sents a first step on a jour­ney that will change the way today’s drivers think about mo­bil­ity and what it can be. From rapid charg­ing and fast ac­cel­er­a­tion to a world of con­nected life­style ser­vices – where on-board concierge soft­ware re­sponds to com­plex voice in­put – the world of lux­ury trans­port is set to change im­mea­sur­ably. For Bentley’s de­sign team, this means look­ing be­yond the hori­zon, to a day when drivers be­come pas­sen­gers and car own­er­ship gives way to trans­port as a ser­vice. The car of the fu­ture will be more lux­u­ri­ous, more sus­tain­able, and more au­ton­o­mous than ever be­fore.

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