The Bentley EXP12 Speed 6e is a two-seater concept that reinforces its maker’s growing interest in electric propulsion as a two-seater luxury car medium with a new two-seat roadster concept.
Unveiled at the Geneva motor show, the new car develops many of the themes first expressed in the EXP10 coupé concept unveiled in Geneva two years ago. It also signals the direction of Bentley’s thinking about the shape of the fifth model line to which Bentley CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer has often referred.
A two-seat sports car has not yet been signed off for production, but Dürheimer has previously told Autocar that adding another model would put Bentley “on a very sound footing for the future”.
He said: “I can tell you that the new car will be younger and more exciting than anything in our line-up. It will appeal to a completely new kind of customer.”
Showing a convertible version in Geneva is a perfect way to gauge industry and public reaction ahead of a likely sign-off for the car, which is slated for production in 2019.
The EXP12 has been designed in Bentley’s Crewe studios under design director Stefan Sielaff. Its body mixes traditional Bentley design cues — such as the mesh grille and strong rear haunches — with new low-nose proportions for a Bentley that give the car a frontal grace and delicacy not usually possible in cars powered by (at least) a twinturbo 4.0-litre V8 mounted very far forward in the nose.
Bentley isn’t keen to give much away about the powertrain, but evidence from the car’s impressive instrument graphics suggests a 300-mile range and a four-wheel drive powertrain, consisting of a pair of motors mounted between the wheels, one at the front, one at the rear.
There’s no detail about battery location, but the low seating positions and the high centre console suggest it might be carried in a T- shape, running down the spine of the car and then across it, behind the occupants. In any case, its EXP10 sister car was proposed with a more conventional petrol-electric powertrain, a system that would doubtless fit this car and is already common in other cars from the Volkswagen Group.
The familiar Bentley mesh grille has been revised and set low at the front of the car, with a wide air scoop below that, running right across. There are suggestions of an aerodynamic splitter, with a chin detail at its edges faintly reminiscent of a battery heat-sink, but the EXP12 is far from governed by aerodynamic gadgetry. It allows a relatively small frontal area and a notably clean shape across the bonnet — which features a familiar ‘sighting’ crease down the centre line — in order to keep aerodynamic drag under control.