The stunning Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 concept is all but certain to go into production, according to bosses at the firm. It made a surprise debut at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, and now it looks set to hit the roads within the next few years, after the Bentayga SUV.
Bentley Chairman and CEO Wolfgang Durheimer previously told us at Geneva the EXP 10 showed “potential to be the new pinnacle luxury two-seat sports car”. But now in an interview with Durheimer, engineering boss Rolf Frech and marketing chief Kevin Rose at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the trio confirmed to Auto Express that the hugely positive reaction to the EXP 10 concept meant it was a near certainty to hit showrooms.
Encouragement to build the car not only came from the press, but more importantly Bentley customers, who see it as a distinctly different car to the existing Continental GT. The firm expects the two-seater Speed 6 to rival models such like the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta and Aston Martin DBS, while power is likely to come from Bentley’s all-new W12 as seen in the Bentayga SUV.
Durheimer also confirmed that, like the Continental GT, the Speed 6 will have four-wheel drive, so that it delivers maximum performance in all conditions. As to when we will see the Speed 6 hit showrooms, that’s still to be confirmed. At the moment, Bentley is focusing on its new Bentayga SUV, and depending on how well that does, it will either launch the Speed 6 or a second SUV. The new SUV is likely to be a smaller model to slot in below the Bentayga.
Rose confirmed that the initial production run of 3,000 Bentayga SUVs is expected to sell out, while the first 400-500 customers will receive a special First Edition model loaded with even more luxury kit.
Since Durheimer arrived at Bentley in early 2014, he’s been keen to play on the brand’s racing heritage. There’s been a string of sportier versions of existing models over the past 12 months – including the Mulsanne Speed and Continental GT3 R – but this svelte EXP 10 Speed 6 is a different proposition altogether.
With the new models on the way, Bentley is expected to double its sales over the next few years. However, Durheimer didn’t rule out an exclusive halo model. While makers such as Ferrari, Porsche and Aston Martin have built hypercars in the form of the LaFerrari, 918 Spyder and One-77 respectively, Bentley would stick to its performance with luxury philosophy, he said.
Leading up to it, we can expect to see a ‘hyper luxury’ version of the Mulsanne saloon in the next couple of years, which could then pave the way for an even more exclusive luxury car – possibly with a seven-figure price tag and exclusivity guaranteed.
The front end is dominated by a much larger, squarer and lower-set version of the classic Bentley grille filled with a 3D mesh, while the twin-headlights are surrounded by LED rings. Short overhangs, a long, sculpted bonnet and bulging rear wheelarches lay the foundations for its classic sports car proportions, while the oval tail-lights are mimicked by the twin tailpipes underneath.
Open the door and there’s the usual feast of stitched and quilted leather, along with machined steel, cherry wood and flashes of copper on the indicator stalks and vents. But this time the old-school luxury is mixed with the very latest modern technology, including a mechanical rev counter overlaid onto a digital instrument cluster behind the wheel and a curved, portrait-orientated central touchscreen that echoes the Porsche 918 Spyder. Behind the driver and passenger is a luggage compartment straddled by a strut brace, displayed at the show with a matching four-piece custom-made luggage set.
“A Bentley is not an easy company to get right. We have to design cars that appeal to a 30-year old in China who is chauffeur driven and a 60 year old in Europe who like to drive himself,” Donckerwolte explained. “We realised a couple of years ago there is an opportunity to spark more emotions and make Bentley a poster on a young boys wall. Do this and you discover the values of Bentley at a younger age.”
For now, what’s under the bonnet remains a mystery, although Bentley has confirmed that the concept uses a petrol-electric hybrid powertrain. While a hybrid variant is possible, the production car would likely be powered by a tuned version of the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 from the Continental GT.”We are not talking about powertrain and platform yet,” Rolf Frech, Bentley’s engineering boss, said. “The MSB platform has the right proportions but let’s wait and see. You have to be creative with the different elements available to you from the group.”
With the new Bentayga SUV going on sale next year, a facelifted Continental GT and Flying Spur range also revealed at the Geneva Motor Show and a Mulsanne convertible (previewed by the recent Grand Convertible Concept) in the pipeline, this latest debut marks an unprecedented period of activity for Bentley. It enjoyed record global sales of 11,020 cars in 2014 – a nine per cent increase on 2013 – and the Bentayga is expected to add at least 3,000 a year to that. Should a production version of the EXP 10 Speed 6 arrive by 2018, when Durheimer has already said he wants a fifth model line, sales of 20,000 a year are not beyond the realms of possibility.
See all the latest concept cars at the Geneva Motor Show.