“It’s right for an electric Bentley,” said Gregory. “It’s a precious material and an authentic one. We’ve used copper in little details all over the car.”
Remembering the Bentley Java of Geneva 1994
The EXP12 continues to explore the Bentley design elements of tomorrow, Gregory added. “It’s a way of getting customers and Bentley’s top management used to what’s coming, which is vital because all future Bentleys will be made in aluminium, a material that can’t always be as easily shaped as steel,” he said.
However, the EXP12’s flanks do not reflect any such difficulties. The car features a familiar but modernised ‘power line’ that starts low at the front, radiuses the front wheels, then flows, past a pair of elegant extractor vents, along the body sides, fading away just before it intersects the typically strong Bentley rear-wheel haunch, a feature that gives the car its classic, rear-wheel-drive roadster character.
The rear deck is a flat bootlid whose shutline runs around the perimeter of the body just a couple of centimetres from its well-defined edge. The feature is reminiscent of old-time coachbuilding but is unlikely to survive into production, said Sielaff, because owners might damage the car by lifting luggage over such a high lip.
As well as its traditional grille, the EXP12 retains four round headlights in the Bentley style, with a designedin ‘crystal glass’ effect that Bentley’s designers also used on the EXP10 and liked so much they adopted it again.
Whereas many designers today struggle to use anything but traditional wood and leather, Bentley’s interior design chief, Brett Boydell, has revelled in the opportunity to cover the EXP12’s easily accessed cockpit richly in both materials, while concentrating on doing it differently.
The seat patterns feature a style of diamond stitching known as ‘kilting’, which both echoes the grille shape and sets a theme for door inners, elegantly milled in a similar pattern from solid walnut — with small copper diamonds to define the intersections of the pattern’s lines. It may sound over the top but it isn’t.
The fascia is a handsome, leathered, wing-shaped sculpture that surrounds the two occupants and gives an authentic cockpit feel. Every surface (apart from switch panels, console screens and two dials that magically move to attain the vertical as part of a commencement procedure) is covered in rich leather, an antique hide that “goes back a little”, as Boydell put it, from the perfect hides used in cars today. This stuff is beautiful, he said, but just like the car and its owner, its aging will be evident.