The Bentley EXP 100 GT is a glimpse into the future and a celebration of the first 100 years of this famous marque.
It “reimagines the Grand Tourer for the world of 2035”, says Bentley, “a world of shared luxury experiences where passenger and driver enjoy equal status in their enjoyment of their extraordinary journeys”.
In other words, a future of autonomy that’s a world away from the company formed by W.O. Bentley on this day in 1919. Quite what Messrs W.O., Woolf Barnato and Tim Birkin would have made of the EXP 100 GT is anyone’s guess.
There are hints of legendary Bentley cars of old – note the R-Type Continental rear haunches and the headlights that tip a tweed cap to the Blower – but this is a vision of the future. A world of electrification, autonomy and sustainable materials.
At 5.8 metres long and 2.4 metres wide, the EXP 100 GT is considerably longer and wider than the Bentayga SUV, while the doors measure two metres wide and rise to almost three metres when open.
‘Literally comes alive’
Referencing the illuminated matrix grille (eat your heart out, BMW X6) and Flying B, Bentley says the EXP 100 GT “literally comes alive”, although a world of living cars is a future we can do without.
Those who were expecting an 8.0-litre or supercharged Bentley to mark the centenary are likely to be disappointed by the all-electric powertrain, but the EXP 100 GT should have no trouble racing trains from the south of France.
The battery system powers four motors that produce 1,106lb ft (1,500Nm) of torque, enough to propel the EXP 100 GT to 60mph in 2.5 seconds, before the 1,900kg electric vision of the future hits a top speed of 186mph.
A range of 435 miles isn’t enough for a Barnato-style race from Cannes to the ferry port in Calais, but the solid state batteries can be recharged to 80 percent capacity in just 15 minutes. Ask the Bentley Personal Assistant nicely, and there will be a cold drink waiting for you at the Conservative Club on St James Street. Probably.
‘Preempts passenger needs’
Bentley says the Personal Assistant “preempts passenger needs and can even maximise comfort based on its knowledge of its owner” by tracking eye and head movements and blood pressure.
The Personal Assistant is the centre piece of the main console and is visualised using illuminated crystal from Cumbria. This is just one of a number of materials you’re unlikely to find in your local builders merchant.
The copper-infused Riverwood is derived from trees that have been preserved for 5,000 years in peat bogs, lakes and rivers. The door panels feature an embroidery pattern created by Hand and Lock, a company that uses techniques dating back to 1767.
‘Compass’ is the name of the paint, which uses a special pigment made using rice husk ash, a harmful by-product of the rice industry. The EXP 100 GT is here to ensure that less rice husk ash ends up in landfill waste. We wonder if it has a plan for disposable nappies.
Bridge of Weir Leather of Scotland is a familiar name in the world of luxury cars, but Bentley has also used the by-product of wine-making to create a leather-like seating material that is 100 percent bio-based.
Drinking wine? Maybe the Bentley Boys would have been interested in the EXP 100 GT after all.
‘Inspirational and aspirational’
Adrian Hallmark, Bentley chairman and CEO, said: “Today, on our centenary, we demonstrate our vision of the future of our marque, with the Bentley EXP 100 GT – a modern and definitive grand tourer designed to demonstrate that the future of luxury mobility is as inspirational and aspirational as the last 100 years.”
Stefan Sielaff, director of design, added: “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 really extraordinary journeys they take.”
Sielaff is making a reference to the Personal Assistant AI, which delivers a “highly personalised experience to the passenger” based on five modes: Enhance, Cocoon, Capture, Re-Live and Customise.
‘Re-Live’ replays highlights of your grand tour, allowing you to remember that exhilarating drive across the Alps… in your autonomous Bentley. ‘Enhance’ harvests light, sound, smell and air quality to deliver a “feeling of open top motoring from under the glass canopy”.
An air purification system in the boot cleans the air before it reaches the cabin, while CO2 levels inside are also monitored. If Sir or Madam wishes, the cabin can be filled with the scent of sandalwood and fresh moss courtesy of fragrance house 12.29.
Woolf, I have a feeling we’re not in Cricklewood anymore.
Needless to say, we’re unlikely to see the EXP 100 GT as a full production model, but some of the innovations should find their way into electrified Bentleys of the future. We suspect the illuminated grille is coming to a Premier League car park near you soon