the grand tourer of tomorrow, today

Bentley’s New Concept Could Be the Ideal Road Trip Car of the Future


July 10, 2019 Cars By
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2019, as it just so happens, represents Bentley’s 100th year of cranking out cars for the world’s well-heeled individuals. As most anyone would do to celebrate their centenary, the company is throwing a party, one designed to pay tribute to triumphs past and present. But while most people hitting their hundredth birthday probably wouldn’t be making much in the way of long-term plans, Bentley is still in the prime of its life — so the crew from Crewe is taking the opportunity to serve up a glimpse of what they imagine their grand tourers of tomorrow will look like.

The Bentley EXP 100 GT, as the concept car is officially known, is supposed to represent the sort of gran turismo someone in the year 2035 would find in a Bentley showroom. While it’s a two-door coupe, that aerodynamic body stretches just over 19 feet long and more than seven and a half feet wide, making it both longer and broader than a Hummer H1.

While the body is made from carbon fiber and aluminium to save weight, copper trim provides a glamorous touch to the exterior; the greenish-gray paint is made using ash from rice husks, as a way of increasing the car’s eco-friendly credentials. A pair of giant headlights with thin LED running light strips outside them give the car a bit of a John Lennon-ish appearance from the front, while a 3D OLED screen in the trunk allows the brake lights to be supplemented with visual effects.

The six-and-a-half-foot-long doors open to reveal an interior flooded with light, thanks to the glass roof. Much to the relief of everyone living in FernGully, the wood comes from naturally-felled trees, while sustainably-sourced textiles like wool supplement the usual cowskin. Glass trim also adds to the bright nature of the cozy cabin.

As is befitting a future-facing concept car, there’s plenty of high-tech vaporware to be found in the EXP 100 GT. Adaptable Biometric Seating monitors the climate and the occupant’s position to shift around as needed to maximize comfort and support, while sensors monitor the occupants’ blood pressure, head position and eye movements to make sure they’re feeling relaxed.

The crystalline Bentley Personal Assistant with gesture control that occupies the prime central position in the dashboard not only serves as a super-Siri to control information and entertainment needs, but can even act preemptively based on what it learns about the owner’s preferences. And of course, the car offers fully-autonomous (and in the real world, still theoretical) driving capabilities.

But this is a Bentley, not a self-driving Waymo shuttlepod; it’s meant to be driven, too. Unsurprisingly, given its futuristic positioning, the hypothetical powerplant of this concept is motivated by nothing but electricity; four motors deliver a maximum of 1,106 pound-feet of torque, helping shove the car from 0 to 60 mph in less than 2.5 seconds on the way to a top speed of 186 mph. The battery — five times more dense than current EV batteries — packs enough juice to carry the car 435 miles on a charge, yet can still recharge to 80 percent capacity in 15 minutes.

Of course, like most concept cars, this is all strictly science fiction for now. But considering current automotive trends — increased autonomy, electrification and sustainability among them — the EXP 100 GT certainly seems like hard science fiction. Here’s hoping it’s a reasonable vision of what we can expect to see in the Continental GT on sale 16 years from now. (Though, admittedly, maybe with the styling turned down a little.)

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