Bentley rocks the Geneva show with a surprise hybrid two-seater supercar – a potential future rival to the Aston Vanquish and Ferrari F12.
The big surprise of the Geneva Motor Show has arrived – and there’s a Bentley badge on the bonnet. Revealed at the VW Group’s pre-show bash, the EXP 10 Speed 6 concept is a breathtaking vision of how a future Bentley supercar could look. Aimed at exotic front-engined GTs like the Aston Martin Vanquish and Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, the EXP 10 Speed 6 will form a fifth separate product line if and when it makes production.
“The showcar has the potential to be the new pinnacle luxury two-seat sports car. It offers thrilling, driver-oriented performance, complete with trademark modern Bentley luxury and effortlessness,” said Wolfgang Durheimer, Bentley Chairman and CEO.
“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. 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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.