The histories of Autocar and Bentley have frequently intertwined over the past century, but the Crewe-based luxury car maker set an entirely new standard earlier this month by treating 30 Autocar subscribers, plus their friends and partners, to an exclusive concept car world premiere of their own.
A few days earlier, the company had invited a strictly limited group of the world’s automotive journalists to Crewe to see the wraps come off the EXP 100 GT, a magnificent electric four-wheel drive luxury saloon concept, intended to show what luxury motoring could be like in 2035, from the points of view of styling, interior design, flexible accommodation, convenience and new materials that might be available.
Similar in length (5.8m) to the longest Bentley Mulsanne limo in production, the 100 GT was configured both for autonomous and normal driving, under the theme of “extraordinary journeys", either with the steering wheel retracted and the car in full self-driving mode, or with the driver taking charge on enjoyable roads.
Bentley board member Astrid Fontaine explained the thinking behind the car to our Autocar group, while head of exterior design JP Gregory talked about the key design cues of the EXP 100 GT. Afterwards, both took part in a Q&A involving Autocar and Bentley people.
The audience, who stayed for lunch, showed a keen appreciation of the car’s magnificent styling, and a passionate interest in the whole subject of electrification and the part it will play in 2035 motoring. But questions ranged far and wide, even including one reader’s forthright criticism of the shape of the current Bentley Bentayga SUV. Bentley’s diplomatic answer: it suits the customers who choose it, sir…
All attendees – readers (two of whom brought Bentleys of their own), Crewe staff and Autocar writers – enjoyed this special occasion, which is fortuitous because right across its long history, Autocar has set out to be more than a magazine (and lately a website) but also the centre of a thriving, like-minded, car loving community.