At Geneva 2015 Bentley unveiled the EXP 10 Speed Six – a rather long-winded name for a short, dramatic and extremely well-resolved two-seater coupé. As the ‘EXP’ part of the name indicates, this is a concept, not a production series vehicle, but it’s nonetheless a strong indication the company is thinking about a lighter, sportier Bentley to sit alongside the Continental GT grand tourer family. If this is what it will end up like, we can only hope the ‘thinking’ bears fruit.
Bentley’s design team at Crewe is now under the confident direction of Luc Donckerwolke, and the Speed Six concept shows that he’s keen to keep stretching the brand’s visual language. It certainly offers a fascinating counterpoint to the soon-to-be revealed Bentayga SUV, a high, mighty and luxurious all-terrain vehicle.
The short front overhang, long bonnet, low grille and wide rear tick all the visual ‘high performance’ boxes; the twin front headlamps and 3D matrix grille material mean that it couldn’t be anything but a Bentley. The shape itself is fresh and modern, inspired by aircraft design and technology, yet also lean, muscular and distinctively British.
Inside, the cockpit gives full rein to the design and craft skills of Crewe; it’s a stunning showpiece of beautifully-wrought materials. Bentley’s traditional design cue of knurling is reinterpreted with a combination of steel and copper to create a two-metal 3D texture. The quilting of the soft Poltrona Frau leather sports seats is also reflected in the milled solid straight-grain cherry wood of the door panels. Along with an intuitive 12” touchscreen housed within a slim centre console, the result is a fusion of modern technology and traditional craft. The rear interior space is divided into two compartments, housing a specially-designed four-piece luggage set.
Bentley hasn’t revealed any details of its thinking on powertrains, as the EXP 10 Speed Six is simply a design concept at the moment. CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer claimed at the concept unveiling that the showcar ‘has the potential to be the new pinnacle luxury two-seat sports car’, which is encouraging, if frustratingly non-specific. As onlookers at Geneva speculated, a 4.0-litre V8 driving the rear wheels would suit it very nicely…and hang on, isn’t Bentley currently campaigning just such a drivetrain in the Blancpain GT3 championship? However authoritative whispers at Geneva indicate that all-wheel drive and hybrid would be part of the spec – purely hypothetical at this stage, of course.