► Bentley shows two-seat sports car
► Headed for production in 2018
► Styling exercise at Geneva show
Bentley stunned the 2015 Geneva motor show with this strikig new two-seat sports car: the EXP 10 Speed 6.
It's a smaller coupe to sit alongside the Continental GT range. And although a concept car for now, Crewe makes no bones about it: this car is being evaluated as a full series production addition to the range.
Why the Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 is heading to a showroom near you
Bentley chief executive Wolfgang Durheimer said at the world debut: 'EXP 10 Speed 6 is one vision for Bentley’s future – a powerful, exquisite and individual concept. The show car has the potential to be the new pinnacle luxury two-seat sports car.
'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.'
In a world of anodyne corporate statements, that's fighting talk. This is being set up as the next addition to the Bentley range after the more controversial Bentayga SUV.
It shouldn't come as a surprise to regular CAR magazine readers; our European editor Georg Kacher scooped the new baby Bentley sports coupe back in September 2013.
What else do we know about Bentley's new coupe?
This is a styling exercise, for now. Bentley has not issued many engineering details of the new sports car - it wants the focus to sit on the design and the market positioning. Suffice to say, CAR magazine is interviewing Bentley top brass at the Geneva show in the next 48 hours and we'll be drilling into as much detail as possible.
The car has an 'advanced new powertrain' that's a hybrid. Four-wheel drive is understood to be a key part of platform.
It's a material world
Make note of the fabulous use of materials on the EXP 10 Speed 6. Copper elements are used inside and out, contrasting with steel, Poltrana Frau leather and aluminium.
The design, inside and out, is dripping aeronautical references. You can hardly spot a corner of the concept car that's not replete with ovoid shapes - a deft nod to aircraft fuselages and wings. They're everywhere from the taillamps to the exhaust pipes.
This car is a line in the sand design concept, launched under the watch of Luc Donkerwolke, Bentley's recent-ishly appointed new head of styling.
He's used a lot of 3D printing technology to get more contours into the Bentley grille, and he's introduced more contrasts in the firm's classic knurled metalwork surfaces. Note how steel and copper sit cheek by jowl, with arrestingly fresh results.
It kinda sums up the whole Bentley vibe at play here. There's a huge 12-inch touchscreen packed with digital wizardry (eat your heart out, Tesla) but also a gearlever finished in aluminium, copper and cherry wood. Crewe's always been ace at craftsmanship - let's hope their German masters insist on keeping the design special, even if they are lowering the price point and cranking up production by double, as the company guns for 20,000 sales a year.
That's the true purpose of this car - and the Bentayga SUV. They'll broaden the Bentley proposition, bring in new customers and move it away from the risky position it held during the 2009 recession, when profits plunged and customers stayed away from its gaudier offerings.