2016 Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 is a car.
Start Rating: (A303), (S310)
Max Rating: (A381), (S389)
With sales increasing tenfold since the Volkswagen Group took over the British carmaker after a fierce battle with BMW, Bentley has been on a roll this year, despite a somewhat aging lineup. After announcing that the company’s first SUV will launch toward the end of the year, Bentley introduced a second mid-cycle refresh for the top-selling Continental GT line and has now unveiled a near-production concept car at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show.
Called the EXP 10 Speed 6, the new Bentley concept radiates with old-school British luxury in a modern and compact package, while part of its name harks back to Woolf Barnato’s famous Blue Train Bentley from 1930. Featuring two seats and a long hood, and painted in a variation of British Racing Green, the EXP 10 Speed Six has a pretty good chance of going into production in the near future.
"The number "6" is embossed in the engine grille, while the bumper grille somewhat resembles a twisted smile and comes with two LED strips at each end." Depite its name recalling a six-cylinder Bentley from over eight decades ago, the EXP 10 Speed 6 Concept has an exterior that actually blends late 1950s proportions with modern design motifs. Although it has a clean overall look, there are a lot of muscular surfaces going on, with Bentley saying that they have been "inspired by the aerodynamic shapes of aircraft fuselages and wings." The front end is typically Bentley, with a giant matrix mesh grille being accompanied by four roundish headlights. The number "6" is embossed in the engine grille, while the bumper grille somewhat resembles a twisted smile and has two LED strips at each end.
The side profile view is again typically Bentley, albeit the stance is more athletic courtesy of a long hood, a short front overhang, muscular fenders and giant wheels. Getting to the rear, the EXP 10 Speed 6 meets us with a leaner look than current production Bentleys, while the wide shoulder lines are more inline with the Aston Martin design language. The oval LED taillights are similarly shaped as the exhaust pipes, giving the car a more modern Bentley vibe. Interestingly, the mesh grille, exhaust exits, door handles and side vents are 3D printed, not stamped.
"The interior door panels feature 3D quilting, milled straight out of a solid piece of cherry wood, while each resulting diamond is finished with a copper center."
If the neo-retro exterior wasn’t enough to capture your interest, the exquisite design and craftmanship of the interior will surely do it. The cabin consists of a symphony of two-tone leather (green and saddle-brown), aluminum, steel, copper and cherry wood. The classic Bentley knurled surfacing can be found throughout the cockpit of the EXP 10 Speed 6, only this time it was created mixing steel and copper. Traditional, analogue details blend in almost perfectly with modern and futuristic features all over the cabin, with the two quilted sports seats accompanying a narrow center console with a curved 12-inch touchscreen.
The interior door panels feature 3D quilting, milled straight out of a solid piece of cherry wood, while each resulting diamond is finished with a copper center. The two-tone upholstery is trimmed in Italian Poltrona Frau leather, while the luggage compartment has two compartments designed to provide room for a specific four-piece luggage set. Just like most of the exterior details, the interior looks almost production-ready.
Bentley hasn’t divulged any details about the EXP 10 Speed 6 Concept’s drivetrain, but if its nomenclature’s legacy is a suggestion, a six-cylinder engine should be in order. The original Speed Six Bentleys had straight-six powerplants, but since that engine configuration is nonexistent in the current Volkswagen Group stable, maybe a twin-turbocharged V-6 could be a good-enough replacement. Then again, a production version of the model would need to battle eight-cylinder sports cars like the Jaguar F-Type and Mercedes-AMG GT, so another version of the Audi-sourced 4.0 TFSI V-8 may be used instead.
Knowing Bentley, a production Speed 6 would not be a bargain compared to its rivals. A starting price of around $150,000 wouldn’t be out of the question, making it slightly cheaper than the least-expensive Continental GT model.
A bit long in the tooth compared with any of its rivals, the current V8 Vantage has provided an entry-level choice in the Aston Martin lineup since 2005. A couple of small refreshes and 10 years later, the model is still powered by a Jaguar-derived V-8. With a displacement of 4.7 liters, the engine delivers 420 horsepower and 346 pound-feet of torque in the base model and 430 horsepower and 361 pound-feet of torque in the V8 Vantage S model.
Both versions are paired with a seven-speed, sequential transaxle, which sends the power to the rear wheels. A future replacement of the V8 Vantage may be powered by Mercedes-AMG, thanks to an agreement between the two companies.
Largely based on a shortened version of the SLS AMG architecture, the Mercedes-AMG GT also comes in two versions, each powered by a V-8. The base model’s twin-turbocharged, 4.0-liter V-8 delivers 456 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque, while the GT S’s engine has an output of 503 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. Both versions send their power to the rear wheels through a seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission in a transaxle configuration. The GT comes with a regular LSD (Limited Slip Differential), while the GT S features an electronically controlled one.
Thanks to a more intelligent aluminum construction, both the Mercedes-AMG GT and the GT S are quite a bit lighter than the also aluminum-based Aston Martin V8 Vantage or the Jaguar F-Type Coupe.
Also based on a shortened platform from an older model – in this case, the XK – the Jaguar F-Type Coupe was launched about a year from its open-top brother. Unlike most of its rivals, the F-Type is also available with a six-cylinder in the base model. A supercharged, 3.0-liter V-6 with 335 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque is available in the regular F-Type, while the same engine delivers 375 horsepower and 339 pound-feet of torque in the F-Type S Coupe.
Those wanting more oomph can opt for a supercharged, 5.0-liter V-8 in the F-Type R Coupe, where it delivers 542 horsepower and 502 pound-feet of torque through either a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic transmission. As of the 2015 model year and only with with the eight-speed auto, the F-Type S and F-Type R can also be had with all-wheel-drive.
The Bentley EXP Speed 6 pretty much came out of the blue at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, with the British carmaker being very good at keeping the lid on the model prior to the show. That said, judging by its design and most of its features, the model looks almost ready for a showroom, with Bentley even accepting customer feedback on its official website.
Smaller, sportier and slightly less expensive than the Continental GT, a production version of the model sounds like a pretty good addition to the Bentley lineup, especially after the lineup will be fattened by the Bentayga SUV at the end of 2015. The only mystery revolving around it is the powertrain, which would need to consist of a six-cylinder to keep the nomenclature tradition going. Then again, Bentley could also use the Audi V-8 from the Conti GT, change the car’s name into Speed 8 and call it a day.