The perfection of an Icon


(Published in The Produktkulturmagazin issue 1 2016)

To begin with we just had ideas and visions that were suggested, discussed, pursued and sometimes discarded again. Light reflexes are now mirrored in convex and concave lines, edges cast sharp shadows, and striking surfaces allow the coloured, metallic paintwork to shimmer in an array of green shades that contrast with the warmth of the luxurious interior copper elements, the cognac-coloured leather seats and the exquisite wooden trimming on the doors. It is here that extraordinary ideas and visions have become shape and form. The design, technology and master craftsmanship generate a new vision of luxury and performance in the car industry. The Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 is one of the most remarkable concept vehicles of the past year.

Today, the presentation of new vehicle research studies is part of every large car exhibition and is eagerly awaited by the general public. These testobjects, to monitor public suitability resulting from marked changes in a company design for example, always define the direction in which the car manufacturer needs to develop. They can also be used to introduce a new vehicle type, or a new model range. Other types of concept vehicle are known as pilot studies. Here, it is less the design and more the technological possibilities that take priority: a high-performance sports car with electric engine, or up until a few years ago, hybrids powered by a combination of fuel and electric for example. The truth is that in the end, most of the concepts will bediscarded and never roll off the production line as a finished vehicle series. 

With the EXP 10 Speed 6, Bentley Motors is giving us a glimpse into the future of luxury and performance. The study embodies the British interpretation of a two-seater, high-performance sports car that unites modern automotive design, master craftsmanship, the best materials, advanced technology and top performance.  The ‘Speed’ in the title refers to the speed of the first race victories in the company’s early years right through to their current international motorsport successes, which are, and always have been, part of Bentley’s identity.  Both the exterior and interior of the concept design are furnished with copper elements that emphasise the performance of the pioneering, hybrid engine. This engine should have a performance capability that, among other features, generates a top speed that defines a new optimum in this vehicle classification category and with it, challenges its competition.

The EXP 10 Speed 6 is designed to carry these concepts into the future. Wolfgang Dürheimer, Bentley Motors’ Chairman and Chief Executive said: “The EXP 10 Speed 6 is a vision of Bentley’s future – a model full of power, style and individuality. The exhibition car is perfectly equipped to become the epitome of the luxury two-seater sports car. It offers a thrilling, driving-orientated design, which blends seamlessly with the unmistakeable modern Bentley luxury and masterly driving experience.”

Distinctive lines and surfaces define the exterior, the design of which was inspired by optimised aerodynamic aircraft fuselages and wings. The design development targeted a new interpretation of the typically aesthetic and precise Bentley shapes and forms. Thus, the resulting Coupé is immediately recognisable as a Bentley.

The stylistic bridges that have been moulded from traditional design elements into modern design language appear in the most diverse ways, from a further development of the legendary matrix grille and the four round front headlights, through to the more vibrant, shimmering metallic variation of the British racing green colour of the paintwork.  Edges, flowing surfaces, and toned curves create a visual expression of speed. A shorter front overhang, a long drawn-out bonnet, a deep-sitting radiator grill and a wide rear with extended C pillar emphasise the athletic proportions. 

The modern style of the concept car defines all the surfaces and every single design element incorporated. Use of the most modern 3-D metal printing technology created a prerequisite: that of finishing numerous exterior elements, such as the radiator grill with the highest possible precision right down to the very last detail.  Thus, the lattice structure of the Matrix radiator grill no longer has the customary, smooth surface, but a complex 3-D geometry, which becomes visible in its entirety from the side. Even the famous diamond-design leather seat upholstery, one of Bentley’s distinct stylistic features, has been transferred to the three-dimensional surface design of the headlight glass. The concept for the next generation of luxury car manufacturers is created in the combination of the remaining exterior features: clear and toned, with exceptional precision details that lend the defining design elements new expression and as a result, unite yesterday, today and tomorrow.

The interior leitmotif is a continuous design line that runs around the cabin and encloses the interior. It flows from the central console along the two symmetrical wings that decorate the dashboard, and continues along the doors until it curves back round to the console armrest between the front seats. The elegant diamond-design, leather-upholstered sport seats are located on either side of the slender central console. The technology is controlled via a 12-inch touchscreen.

Each and every detail is attuned to the DNA of the interior design and delivers a coherent new interpretation. As with the radiator grill, the interior also employs new three-dimensional elements. The fluting in the concept car, which can be found in all Bentleys, is now executed in a combination of steel and copper, which creates a three-dimensional structure composed of two different metals.

The style of the doors is also characterized by a new forward-looking design; the diamond pattern, with a copper detail inserted at each diamond point, is moulded onto the surface of the linear-grained cherry wood.  This is a feature that was also recently singled out by the German Design Council, who honoured the Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 with the gold German Design Award in the transportation category. Jury member Johannes Barckmann remarked that: “The Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 designers have been successful in creating a fantastic new interpretation of the British legend. This becomes particularly apparent when you cast a glance at the interior. The door trimmings are not covered in leather, but are furnished with high-class wood.”

The central console comprises a softly curved touchscreen enclosed in an aluminium frame, which connects the digital world to the haptic experience. When the engine is switched on, the flat controls behind the steering wheel move automatically into an upright position. A digital display complements the classic revolution counter and through this, the elegance of analogue is united with the capabilities of modern driver-information systems. Wolfgang Dürheimer is confident: “This model could be the foundation of a new model series alongside the Continental GT and could take the leading position in an additional market segment. The design of the EXP 10 Speed 6 is pioneering for future Bentley vehicles. It is much more than a sports car concept – it is a potential Bentley sports car: a great vision for a brand with a great future.”

Picture credits © Bentley Motors

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