This is the Bentley EXP 100 GT concept, built to celebrate the Crewe marque’s 100th anniversary and a vision of what very-high-net-worths will be driving in 2035.
Bentley describes it thus: “A physical embodiment of the future Bentley brand, it sets the benchmark for sustainable luxury mobility that is autonomous and electric.”
And massive. The EXP 100 may take the form of a svelte, two-door coupe but it is a humugous 5.7 metres long and 2.4 metres wide (the Mulsanne is 5.5m-by-1.9m). And yet Bentley claims an all-up weight of just 1,900kg, thanks to the aluminium and carbonfibre structure and significantly better battery technology – that hasn’t actually been developed yet. But progress runs at a rapid pace and Bentley anticipates that by 2035 batteries will have five times the energy density they do now, making them considerably lighter.
According to Bentley, those denser batteries would allow an 80% charge in just 15 minutes. Though range anxiety wouldn’t be much of a problem anyway, if the EXP 100 were to achieve the claimed range of 435 miles.
Range doesn’t come at the expense of performance, either. Bentley claims a neck-snapping 0-62mph time of 2.5secs and a top speed beyond 186mph.
A turn of speed like that obvioulsy requires a massive quantity of power and the EXP 100’s Next Generation Traction Drive system delivers it. An electric motor in each wheel produces between 201bhp and 335bhp, giving a total output of up to 1,340hp and maximum torque of 1,100lb/ft. The system allows torque vectoring, as well.
The EXP 100 doesn’t just set out to bludgeon the laws of physics, though. It Wants to look after the health and well-being of the passengers. Just getting into it would make us feel better life, stepping under the two-metre upward-hinging door and dropping into the figure-hugging seats, taking in the minimalist architecture and gazing up through the glass canopy roof.
Bentley Personal Assistant manages the whole experience. It’s an AI-based system that learns the needs of the passengers and adjusts the configuration of the interior accordingly, easing away the stresses of the day. It can even respond to changes in road and weather conditions to deliver maximum comfort.
The system even manages how passengers interact with the outside world whilst in the car, with one of five modes. Enhance mimics outside temperatures, air flows and light conditions. Cocoon effectively seals the interior off from world outside. Capture records experiences as they happen and Relive replays previous journeys. Customise lets them play with the no doubt endless settings ad nauseum.
Manual control of the BPA is by gesture control.
The seat layout is reconfigurable, too. It comes as a four-seater, though here it’s shown with three seats – driver and rear passenger in tandem on the right, with the left-hand seat pushed back to give indulgent leg room. The seats themselves feature biometric sensors so they can automatically adjust to suit the passenger’s requirements.
The EXP 100 takes care of more than just personal well-being. This is an extremely environmentally and ethically aware car – beyond the zero emissions powertrain.
The paint, for instance, is made rice husk ash, a harmful by-product of the rice industry that would otherwise go to landfill. The interior woodwork is crafted from 5,000-year old logs found in rivers and bogs. The seat upholstery is essentially made from the waste grape skins generated by wine making. And other materials like the wool used for the carpets and crystal glass used for the screens are sourced locally in the UK.
If that sounds a bit hair-shirt, the interior looks just as lavishly appointed as if it were made from more traditional materials. The wood trim is infused with copper which we imagine creates a lovely, warm glow. Bentley worked with Hand and Lock – which does work for the Royal Family – to create embroidery that runs across all the different materials used. There’s Bridge of Weir leather. Controls are wrought from aluminium and copper.
The exterior features yet more bleeding-edge tech, including a 3D OLED screen blended into the rear lights. The front lights, grille and ‘Flying B’ mascot light up as the owner approaches. The wheels adjust their configuration to suit the aerodynamics needs of any given moment and they’re wrapped in ‘intelligent’ tyres.
According to Bentley’s design chief Stefan Sielaff: “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 the really extraordinary journeys they take.”
CEO Adrian Hallmark added: “Bentley has, and will continue to enhance and enrich every single journey and the lives of every single person who travels in, or has the honour to be a part of creating our extraordinary products.”
Bentley’s long line of EXP concept cars have often proven to be prescient of future developments both within the Bentley line-up and the motoring world generally. 2035 might seem like a long time from now, but in the car industry it really isn’t. Is 16 years long enough for the high-tech ideas presented in the EXP 100 to come to fruition? If anyone can pull it off, it’s Bentley, supported as it is by the might of the VW Group.
We certainly hope they do. Because this is a vision of the future we can definitey get on board with.
By Graham King