Bentley has marked its centenary by revealing a highly intelligent electric car called the EXP 100 GT. The concept is designed as a physical embodiment of the future of Bentley to show what sustainable opulence could be like in 2035.
The car, which will be capable of both “autonomous and enjoyable” driving, has been created in-house by a team led by design director Stefan Sielaff. It's a huge, coupé-like high-performance car with two massive lifting doors with the dimensions and interior space of a limousine.
Inside, the EXP 100 GT is designed to use artificial intelligence to provide a level of luxury that isn't seen on any car today. Its secret weapon, a so-called Bentley Personal Assistant, controllable from screens front and rear, aims to improve not just occupants’ comfort by recording all manner of their preferences and configuring the car to suit.
The “meticulously sculpted” cabin comes with three different seating configurations depending on whether it’s in autonomous or normal driving mode. The cabin can seat up to four people, although photos reveal a three-seater setup. Adaptable biometric seats anticipate adjustments that occupants might need to make themselves more comfortable.
The EXP 100 GT takes interactivity well beyond what we know today: its systems will learn and eventually anticipate occupants’ desires when factors such as light conditions, road surface or weather change. Bentley wants to move the EXP 100 GT – and its future models – well beyond simple A to B travel, to “extraordinary and emotional human experiences”.
The 100 GT is the latest in a decades-long family of Bentley EXP concepts, most of which have had considerable relevance to the look and specification of production models that came after them. It has an electric powertrain dubbed 'Next Generation Traction Drive' that uses four 204-340hp electric motors and an advanced torque vectoring system to distribute a combined output of between 811 and 1359hp to all four wheels, depending on spec.
The combined peak torque is just over 1491Nm, which – given that electric motors develop maximum torque at the very bottom of their range – easily accounts for the eye-watering estimated 0-100kph of 2.5sec, along with a top speed of 299kph.
Although it has also been designed to accommodate a fuel cell stack, the EXP 100 GT paints a very optimistic picture of battery progress over the next 16 years. The range is claimed at 700km even though the GT’s overall mass is tipped to fall to 1,900kg – around 35 percent lighter than a car with similar capabilities would weigh today. That should be very beneficial when it comes to cornering, braking and agility.
By 2035, Bentley says the car will use batteries with five times today’s energy density, reaching an 80 percent charge in just 15 minutes. The car’s lightness is all the more remarkable because of its size – at 5.7m in length and 2.4m wide, the EXP 100 GT is nearly half a metre longer and much wider than the new Flying Spur.
Bentley is sketchy about the car’s construction, claiming only that its comparatively low kerb weight results from a structure of “lightweight aluminium and carbon fibre”. The cabin has twin doors, each two metres wide that lift outwards and upwards. The car also gets configurable aerodynamic wheels, complete with ‘intelligent’ tyres.
Interestingly, the EXP 100 GT’s big coupé proportions bear a clear but advanced resemblance to today’s most recently arrived current Bentleys, the Continental GT and Flying Spur. The new concept also has the fastback and rear haunch of one of Bentley’s most famous cars, the R-Type Continental coupé. The round lights overlap the extremely ornate and prominent grille – which, like the ‘Flying B’ bonnet motif, lights up when the driver approaches – are said to be a nod to the famous ‘Blower’ Bentley of the 1920s.