Bentley explores new territory with EXP 10 Speed 6 concept
With the Bugatti 16C Galibier a distant memory, the Continental GT from VW sibling Bentley remains the pinnacle of supercar-level performance blended masterfully with ultra-premium grand touring elegance. But what if you sacrificed two seats of that touring luxury for more all-out, track-painting performance? You'd have the all-new EXP 10 Speed 6, a concept two-seat sports car that paves the way for a sportier Crewe future.
In addition to updating the Continental GT family, Bentley revealed the EXP 10 Speed 6 as a surprise debut at the Geneva Motor Show. A new two-seat concept debut had been whispered about in the auto press, but Bentley didn't mention it officially until the car's debut on the night before the official start of the show.
Bentley calls the EXP 10 Speed 6 a "British interpretation of a high performance two seater sportscar using modern automotive design, highly skilled handcrafting, the finest materials and advanced performance technology." Indeed, the car looks like a sports coupe that could have been conceived across the Queen's island at Aston Martin headquarters, thanks to its flat face, concave rear-end, and sloped cabin set behind large, swooping hood.
It's the concept's profile that adds a big helping of Bentley signature style, with its powerful, big-cat-like fenders tying it to the familiar look of the Continental GT. The design exercise also reinterprets classic Continental GT styling cues like the four-round headlamps and matrix grille. The grille hides a subtle "6" that pops into view when looked at from certain angles and light conditions.
Also of visual interest are the stretched-oval taillamps that sit over top dual exhaust tips of the same shape. The paint color is a new twist on classic British Racing Green, a metallic treatment that gives the car a deep, shiny presence.
Unfortunately, Bentley doesn't specify what type of powertrain the EXP 10 Speed 6 uses to make good on the power and speed promised by the compact, muscular body. However, it looks as though Crewe is looking beyond simply dropping a Continental GT W12 and/or V8 under the hood, saying that the copper highlights of the exterior and interior hint at the "performance hybrid potential of the concept’s advanced new powertrain." Performance specs would be utterly meaningless without a specific powertrain to tie them to, but Bentley promises that the EXP 10 Speed 6 would "challenge competitors and define a new segment benchmark."
The interior is every bit as intriguing as the exterior, and not just because of its lack of rear seats. The leather-trimmed structural perimeter that wraps around each occupant, beginning at the strong center console, extending around the upper dashboard, and sweeping across the upper edge of each door, gives the cabin the feel of cozy driver and passenger pods. The left pod/right pod-delineating console plays home to a curved 12-in infotainment and controls touchscreen, as well as the shifter. The instrument panel lifts into driver's view from flat position when the driver punches the B-shaped ignition button and shows a classic needled rev counter beside a digital display.
Bentley dresses its technologically-advanced cabin with its usual meticulous craftsmanship, using a combination of quilted brown leather, straight-grain cherry wood, and knurled steel-and-copper controls. Two specially developed compartments in back are designed to accommodate the matching four-piece luggage set, ensuring that the smaller Bentley doesn't lose all of its touring capability.
Indications are that the EXP 10 Speed 6 is more than just a surprise show car. It seems likely to find its way to production, where it would give Bentley a fifth model line, joining the Continental GT, Mulsanne, Flying Spur and upcoming Bentayga SUV.
"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," says Bentley chief Wolfgang Dürheimer. "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."