On 10 July 1919, Walter Owen Bentley founded his eponymous car brand with a vision to create ‘a good car, a fast car, the best in its class’. The company’s rich heritage is reflected in every one of its vehicles, from the victorious Blower Bentley and the “silent” 8 Litre to the spirit of the Bentley Boys. Now, 100 years since its birth, Bentley is looking ahead to what the next century will bring.
Brummell was honoured to be invited to celebrate Bentley’s 100th birthday at its factory in Crewe, and to witness the future of the marque with the launch of the EXP 100 GT, a fully autonomous electric luxury vehicle, which the company’s chairman and CEO Adrian Hallmark calls, ‘the future of grand touring’.
Created by Bentley’s director of design, Stefan Sielaff, the sleek and muscular car exudes Bentley’s design DNA with an innovative, futuristic twist, from the illuminated matrix grill and Flying B mascot of the exterior, to the meticulously sculpted cabin and luxurious sustainable interior.
‘It represents the kind of cars we want to make in the future,’ says Sielaff. ‘It is instantly recognisable as Bentley, as we have combined influences from heritage and innovative design in a new and futuristic way.’
Sielaff and his design team really have thought of everything. With a zero emissions battery-electric powertrain capable of a 700km range, the car can be charged to 80 per cent of capacity in just 15 minutes. It is produced from sustainable materials that not only protect British craftsmanship, but also the planet (it uses 5,000-year-old copper-infused Riverwood, 100 per cent leather-like textile from wine making, British farmed wool carpets), and it can be driven manually or autonomously.
Designed to enhance the occupants’ wellbeing, the car also has an innovative glass roof embedded with prisms that collect light from the surrounding environment and transfer it into the cabin with fibre optics. The built-in Bentley Personal Assistant pre-empts passengers’ needs and over time will deliver bespoke services based on its knowledge of its owner. The car even goes above and beyond to monitor the driver’s blood pressure.
More than just a car of the future, Bentley presents the EXP 100 GT as a dynamic luxury experience, with the aim to exceed the expectations of future drivers. ‘Its materials, technology, power and luxury services come together to deliver a truly extraordinary journey for future luxury customers,’ adds Sielaff. And while recent tests have shown frequent autonomous driving on our roads is still a long way off, Bentley is committed to offering electrified products and hybrid variants of current Bentley models by 2032.
‘Instead of predictable evolution, we stand before a future, which is open to redefinition of luxury, mobility and even of Bentley itself,’ says Hallmark. ‘The Bentley EXP 100 GT is a modern and definitive grand tourer designed to demonstrate that the future of luxury mobility is as inspirational and aspirational as the past 100 years.’