Britain's Bentley is celebrating its 100th anniversary today with a concept coupe that envisions the future of luxury motoring with a high-performance electric drivetrain, artificial intelligence, autonomous driving, and sustainable materials.
Bentley says the company looked into the future to create a Grand Tourer fit "for the world of 2035". The concept envisions a fully autonomous luxury car that can also be driven manually, quickly, and over long distances: the EXP 100 GT puts an electric motor at each wheel to provide torque vectoring all-wheel traction and more than 1,100 lb-ft of torque, which work together for a 0–100 km/h sprint of less than 2.5 seconds.
Batteries boasting five times the energy density of current technology will allow for 700 km of driving range and a 1,900 kg curb weight. That last figure makes the EXP 100 GT 600 kg lighter than a Tesla Model X despite being nearly six metres long and 2.4 metres wide.
The EXP 100 GT's two doors are each two metres long and pivot out, to a height of three metres, so do check the clearance of the parking garage ceiling before you open up.
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Bentley's experiment in sustainable materials begins with the EXP 100 GT's exterior colour, created with rice husk ash. The automaker turned this apparently harmful by-product of the rice industry into a synthetic pigment in an effort to keep the material out of landfills.
The concept's cabin is dressed in copper-infused riverwood sourced from trees that have been preserved in bogs, lakes, and rivers for nearly 5,000 years. Britian's Fenland Black Oak Project provided the material, which once stood as a forest in East Anglia before sea water levels rose up over the trees.
A leather-like upholstery on the EXP 100 GT's seats is a 100 percent natural material created using the byproducts of wine-making. Other surfaces are covered in a special Bridge of Weir natural leather, and the embroidered door panels are done in a technique used to make British military dress uniforms.
Even light is treated as a material in the concept's cabin. Prisms in the roof "harvest" light and channel it into the car using fibre optics where it combines with synthesized light, "enhancing wellness on board."
Speaking of wellness, if you get thirsty, the car will deliver – in crystal glasses – purified water from a decanter that lives under the car's hood. The EXP 100 GT can allow the outside environment into the car to create a feeling of open-top driving, or shut out urban pollution and suffuse the cabin with the scents of sandalwood and fresh moss.
Other interior cues conceived for passenger comfort include bio-metric seats that swivel rearward when the car is in autonomous mode. The Bentley Personal Assistant system also envisions using Internet connectivity to display educational or historical information about the car's surroundings. And if you had a particularly memorable drive, the personal assistant can replay highlights after the fact.