Bentley must find ways to engage with younger customers, according to new design director Stefan Sielaff.
Sielaff joined Bentley last year, but had already worked on the Bentley Speed 6 concept car and Bentley Bentayga as part of a wider role within the VW Group. In particular, the Speed 6 was seen as a test bed for a new, more youthful interpretation of Bentley's brand values.
"To be absolutely clear, I don't want to destroy the heritage of the brand or even harm it in any way, but as in all life we have to improve and take steps forward," said Sielaff. "That means making the brand and its products appeal to a younger audience, from wealthy 30-year olds upwards.
"It's not about making change for the sake of it, but about finding ways to interpret what our customers want. We have a hugely international design team here - more than 20 nationalities - and we are an international brand, and we must reflect those tastes and aspirations in our products."
Sielaff said technology advancements were likely to trigger the biggest changes in interior design. "This is where the biggest, blockbuster change can come," he said. "Without a tech breakthrough we will just keep reinterpreting what we have already. With an innovation we can make a step change."
However, Sielaff denied that this meant a digitalisation of a future Bentley cabins. "Audi is about the cutting edge - Bentley is not," he said. "We do not want to over-stress technology. It must never dominate the car, and it must always be discrete. Whatever technology we add must be available but not domineering."
Sielaff admitted that the use of 3D printing to create complex, uniform shapes that humans couldn't achieve - as shown in some details on the Speed 6 - was under investigation. "A very complex piece that has been machined can create emotions so long as it is heartfelt and the very best," he said. "A Bentley will always have a unique human craftsmanship, but we can explore both areas."