The Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6: A Big, Bad Plug-in Hybrid Concept

I was out for almost 2 weeks.  My son, bless his soul, shared something with me so infectious and virile it literally wanted my soul.  It’s good that I don’t have one.

So I’m catching up on things, and see this leftover from the Geneva Motor Show.  It’s a Bentley plug-in hybrid.  It was introduced with two nondescript panels, one of which was later revealed to be for a power plug.  From our friends at Ecomento.com:

The Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 previews a possible new product line for the British luxury carmaker, and features a plug-in hybrid powertrain to boot.

 

Bentley wouldn’t give any specifics on that plug-in powertrain, but it seems likely that would be based around the twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 from the Continental GT. Bentley previously showed a plug-in hybrid concept based on the Mulsanne, which used that model’s stock powertrain but augmented with an electric motor.

In their press material, Bentley spends a fair amount of time teasing the concept–naturally:

Wolfgang Dürheimer, chairman and chief executive of Bentley Motors, comments, “EXP 10 Speed 6 is one vision for Bentley’s future – a powerful, exquisite and individual concept. The showcar has the potential to be the new pinnacle luxury two-seat sports car. It offers thrilling, driver-oriented performance, complete with trademark modern Bentley luxury and effortlessness.

 

It could be a future model line, alongside the Continental GT and redefining the pinnacle of another market sector, and the styling of the EXP 10 Speed 6 could influence the expansion of the Bentley family. This is not just a new sports car concept – but the potential Bentley sports car – a bold vision for a brand with a bold future.”

 

This is a trend among ultra-luxury and supercars: pair a massive displacement or similarly powerful engine with robust hybrid technology.  You keep the power, add mpg’s–and increase cachet.  Porsche 918 Spyder.  Lamborghini Asterion.  Acura NSX.  Ford GT.  These are names, some already storied, others yet to be.  I’m sure Bentley is planning on the 2-seat EXP 10 Speed 6 to be among them.

Looking at the slideshow, this new Bentley concept embraces new technology, and wraps it in lush leather.  Notice it borrows the tablet-style center stack from Tesla and the new Volvo XC90.

Outside, the EXP 10 Speed 6 cuts a different shape than other UK-inspired 2 seaters.  They could have gone in the Aston Martin direction.  It’s good they didn’t.  The 10 Speed 6 shares the basic form, but features so many aerodynamic flourishes, it makes Astons look like door wedges with wheels.

As Bentley puts it:

The exterior design of EXP 10 Speed 6 is an expression of muscular, athletic surfaces inspired by the aerodynamic shapes of aircraft fuselages and wings. The ethos of the design was to develop contemporary interpretations of Bentley styling cues, which have been brought together with beauty and precision. The result is a coupe of clean, modern surfaces whilst remaining unmistakably Bentley.

 

Creating exciting contemporary ideas from classic starting points is evident across the car, from the new interpretation of the iconic Bentley matrix grille and four-round headlamps to the paint colour – a deeper, richer and heavily metallic version of British Racing Green. The principles of established Bentley luxury have been applied in new and invigorating ways that use the latest technologies and techniques.

 

The shapes and lines of EXP 10 Speed 6 represent a dynamic sculpture, creating harmony between sharp lines and flowing surfaces and using twisted surfaces to imply speed. Combined with muscular proportions and an athletic stance through the use of a short front overhang, long bonnet, low grille and wide rear shape with a long C-post, the exterior styling hints at high speed potential of the car.

 

There’s a lot of flourish there, but I’m buying what they’re selling.

Here’s what I wonder.  Over these past few major auto shows, carmakers have introduced “concepts” that are not too far away from the production line.  The EXP 10 Speed 6 looks like it’s close to being ready for production.  Will we see it sooner than later?

 

 

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Sebastian James

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