The Future of Grand Touring — Bentley’s EXP 100 GT

Auto Lifestyle

—To celebrate its 100th birthday, Bentley created the EXP 100 GT, a striking all-electric concept poised to redefine the 21st-century driving experience.

As you walk through the corridors of Bentley’s 1946 factory in Crewe, England, you can still spot stacks of wood logs and a newspaper clipping-like copy of the U.K.’s 1974 Woodworking Machine Regulations. In an adjacent room, you’ll come face-to-face with a 19-foot battery-electric vehicle—the Bentley EXP 100 GT.

The futuristic concept car is something of a window into the brand’s innovative horizon. With the exterior evoking a glossy, technological dreamscape and an interior besting the imaginations behind “Blade Runner 2049,” the EXP 100 GT is Bentley’s aim for the grand tourer in 2035.

EXP 100 GT

In a presentation reminiscent of your fondest planetarium memory, the concept rolled out to meet Bentley Motors Chairman and CEO, Adrian Hallmark, in autonomous fashion. Rivaling the size of a Range Rover, its sleek proportions camouflage its reflective expanse. Circular headlights bleed into its illuminated front grill with over 6,000 LED lights—greeting the driver like a wall of crystalline. 

Featuring Bentley’s R-Type continental haunch at the rear and six-foot-wide doors that pivot outwards and upwards, the EXP 100 GT is unmistakably Bentley but uniquely its own. Its electric powertrain battery system powers four motors—which claims 1,100 ft-lb of torque, 1,400 horsepower, zero to 60 in just 2.5 seconds and top speeds of 186 mph. Using a futuristic battery said to have five times the energy density, the EXP 100 GT’s also boasts a 435-mile range and a solid-state battery that can be charged at a 500 KW to 80 percent capacity in just a short 15-minute window.

Beneath the EXP 100 GT’s lightweight aluminum and carbon fiber components, however, is a message of sustainability. In addition to running on an electric battery, the concept requires no rare earth materials, giving it a softer impact on the environment. Using recycled rice-husk ash (a byproduct of the rice industry that typically ends up in a landfill) and 100 percent bio-based leather-like seats from wine production waste, the zero-emission grand tourer pairs AI with sustainable materials. 

“We stand before a future which is open to a redefinition of luxury, of mobility and even of Bentley itself. Urbanization continues to define the way that people think about cars,” Hallmark said. “Climate change means that governments, companies and individuals must look for a more sustainable solution to move forward. And [we at] Bentley believe that we can answer those big questions for the future.

EXP 100 GT

Inside, that future also includes a cabin AI (Bentley Personal Assistant), which is accessible by hand gestures or via voice-activation through the EXP 100 GT’s Cumbria Crystal-inspired oval centerpiece console. With the AI, the driver can customize their environment (glass to opaque for privacy), filter surrounding views and activate the self-drive mode. Displays on its embedded digital interface help the grand tourer’s passengers to not only navigate unfamiliar territory but even provide information on surrounding wildlife.

The 2035 concept AI also uses biometric sensors to monitor reactive seat surfaces that respond to the passenger’s position while driving, offering more support when the AI deems it necessary. These sensors are embedded in the car, tracing eye and head movements—and even passenger blood pressure. Depending on the size of your party (and the nature of your journey) the biometric seating sensor is capable of rearranging seat combinations.

The interior cabin trim also features 5,000-year-old copper-infused riverwood from the Fenland Black Oak Project. Epitomizing what Bentley calls “slow design and sustainable innovation,” These carbon-dated ancient oaks died from flooding in the East Anglian Fenland basin and have been threaded with recycled copper (to highlight the wood’s natural flaws). With a touch of digital surfacing, the cabin trim is a nod to both Bentley’s historic past and promising future.

“It’s a vision of an autonomous grand tourer with the ability to still enjoy driving,” Bentley’s Director of Design, Stefan Sielaff, said during the July 10th presentation. “It’s a modern British design, and it is recognizable as a Bentley. Sculpted, taut surfacing, precise features lines and handcrafted details are hallmarks that we will continue to evolve. Our iconic bloodline is translated into perfectly balanced proportions.”

EXP 100 GT

Offering fully-electric and autonomous driving when preferred, the Bentley EXP 100 GT concept is a symbol of where the brand aims to be as it enters its second century. But like iconic Bentleys of decades past, the EXP 100 GT reminds us of the days when cars evoked a sense of freedom and self-expression—creating “not just cars, but experiences.”

“The Bentley EXP 100 GT represents the kind of cars we want to make in the future,” Sielaff said. “Like those iconic Bentleys of the past, this car connects with its passengers’ emotions and helps them experience and safeguard the memories of the really extraordinary journeys they take.” 

*Learn more at Paul Miller Bentley in Parsippany, NJ.

By Michael Scivoli

Michael is the Editorial Director of VUE Magazine. He enjoys scotch and poetry, and of course, his dog Baxter.