Bentley, founded in 1919, is celebrating its centennial this year. As part of that celebration, it has revealed an autonomous, electrically-powered, ultra-luxury grand touring concept car that it is calling the EXP 100 GT. The firm says the not-at-all-planned-for-production vehicle is supposed to be a vision of what luxury grand touring automobiles will be like in the year 2035 (cue Zager and Evans).
The concept is obviously a Bentley, and not just because of its flying B hood ornament. The EXP 100 GT shares styling cues from the Continental models, while implementing them with a futuristic touch. The circular beveled headlights flank an imposing grille made up of 6000 individual LEDs backed by a thin copper film, which gives the front end the look of fine jewelry and cut crystal. Copper metal, along with silver, accents the window frames, windshield, and even the “Active Aero” wheels.
Bentleys are meant to impress, and at 19 feet long, the EXP 100 GT will achieve that goal. To keep weight down to a (relatively) respectable 4188 pounds, the body is made of aluminum and carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic. Bentley is calling the exterior color “Compass,” sort of a gunmetal gray, which is offset by the sleek, silver-colored glass roof.
No power figures are available, nor the number of traction motors used, but torque is said to be rated at an imposing 1105 lb-ft, giving the EXP 100 GT a theoretical 0–60 mph time of just 2.5 seconds, with a top speed of 186 mph, which works out to an even 300 kph. Likewise, no battery capacity has been mentioned, but Bentley says the EV has a range of 435 miles and is able to recharge to 80 percent power in just 15 minutes when using fast chargers. Those outlandish figures make it clear that the EXP 100 GT is very much a concept, not reality.
The concept is a bit self-contradictory. Bentleys have long been known as the luxury cars for drivers, people who like to drive, but the EXP 100 GT is for people to be driven. You'll theoretically be able to manually operate the EXP 100 GT, but Bentley is stressing the fact that the concept can, again theoretically, operate in five different autonomous modes, controlled via hand gestures interpreted by the front and rear cabin-mounted Cumbria Crystal interfaces for the vehicle's artificial intelligence system.
Enhance mode draws inputs from outside the car, like lighting, sound, and even smells. Cocoon mode is exactly how you would imagine it, isolating passengers from the outside environment by turning the windows opaque. Capture mode records “experiences” from both inside and outside the car, to record your trips, while Re-Live can replay those experiences, allowing you to virtually revisit past trips. Customize mode allows the driver and passenger to select elements from the other modes.
While isolated from the world outside, the “driver” and passengers will be able to enjoy a “sustainable” and “environmentally friendly” interior made of materials intended to “reconnect passengers with the authentic, natural world around them.” One doesn't have to be Alanis Morissette to find that ironic.
Other ironies abound. The 5000-year-old riverwood used in the interior that over the ages has been naturally infused with copper is said to represent “sustainable future luxury,” notwithstanding the fact that nature isn't making any more of that rare material any time soon.
The expensive exterior finish is made at least partially of recycled rice husks, and the upholstery is a 100-percent organic faux leather made from residues of wine production. Novel recycling may be important for the concept's image, but being a proper British luxury car, it is carpeted with genuine “British Farmed Wool.”
Stefan Sielaff, Bentley's director of design, summed up the concept, saying, “The EXP 100 GT represents the kinds 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."