Head Of Interior Design Brett Boydell Talks About The Bentley EXP 100 GT Luxury Supercar Of The Future
Bentley Motors launched the new Bentley EXP 100 GT electric supercar of the future at their headquarters in Crewe. CW1 House, normally used as a car showroom for visitors and clients, had been reimagined as an earth, air, fire and water fantasy home of the future. I sat down amidst this light extravaganza with Bentley’s Head of Interior Design, Brett Boydell, to chat about the the new luxury project that was to be unveiled in an hour on the platform before us.
Brett was quietly confident that we were about to be blown away. I had doubts having seen so many concept cars used as marketing tools before. However as we talked I began to suspect that this was not so much a concept as a statement of intent. Something more akin to laying out exactly where Bentley was going next, without fear that anyone else could imitate or even come close to the level of quality, construction, craftsmanship and creative design. Bentley letting the world know just what was actually coming down the pipeline and challenging themselves and the industry to reach new heights.
When the EXP 100 GT was eventually revealed, I realised Brett had actually been underplaying it and he was justly amused at my reaction. It was magnificent and I absolutely loved it. Most everyone there did too. Some quibbled it was too long, but this was mere virtue signalling that they had spotted some chink. I had visions of it speeding through some vast desert vista, with crystal towered cityscapes shimmering in the background. This was a vision of the future I could identify with. Creative flair and imagination that will shape the world and how we connect with it. Bentley putting forward the future of travel to their clients and how Bentley were not just ready, but actively planning every step of the way.
Launching the Bentley EXP 100 GT on their 100th birthday revealed that whilst the last century had been pretty incredible, they intend to make the next one even more interesting. This may be a bold, dramatic new statement but it is immediately recognisable as a Bentley. No mere concept, but a road map from where Bentley started, to where they intend to take us next. A challenge not just to themselves but perhaps their clients too. They are expressing what luxury and craftsmanship truly means: sustainability, modern non polluting materials, electric powertrains and an evolution in how we travel are core to that future. The Bentley DNA perfectly evolved.
Brett tells me they were a little nervous as the EXP 100 GT was only completed and delivered to CW1 two working days before the launch. Furthermore he reckons almost everyone at the Bentley factory had some input into the car at some point. This was immortalised with a time capsule sealed in the passenger side rear wing with everyone’s signatures.
Brett is particularly proud of the use of sustainable non polluting materials in both the interior and exterior of the car. The use of recycled rice husk paint further enhances its eco credentials. Paint is normally one of the most polluting materials, so the future looks not only luxurious but health enhancing. The leather uses an Aniline organic compound and comes from Scotland as does the farmed wool carpets. The inlays are naturally felled wood veneers and the main console light piece is illuminated crystal from Cumbria. All testament to their dedication to Bentley’s British heritage.
It took around six months to put the car together. A lot longer than most concepts, but if you get a chance to get close to it at Pebble Beach in August, you will be amazed they produced it that quick. The finish is mind blowing. The way the copper fuses into wood, glass, then carbon fibre is mesmerising. The entire body is aluminium and carbon fibre, designed using virtual reality headsets to visualise the initial model before creating a full scale clay model. This was then discussed, altered and improved upon before scanning and reintroducing into the data set for more tweaks.
New lighting systems employ fibre optics to deploy natural light to different parts of the cabin, creating ambiance to suit every situation and environment. Multiple hues and colours dapple and reflect off the interior materials, fabrics and woods. The roof subtly employs architectural and interior elements to create a suspension bridge with pendant crystal chandelier. The future looks pretty luxurious as the ballroom rides within the coach. The visally arresting front grill, rear lights and interior lighting elements were created by Moritz Waldermeyer, using indiviual LED's connected via bespoke designed electronic circuit software. Boydell and Waldermeyer spent many a sleepless night conjuring up the the sophisticated illumination.
I’m particularly taken with the use of 5,000 year old Riverwood that blends seamlessly into the copper flashes. Based on antique horse drawn chariots which also informed the use of fabric rather than leather for aspects of the interior. Leather was originally only really used for the front seats and not the back, as it was hard wearing. Likewise the roof often only covered the passengers at the rear, not the front driver.
The interior and indeed the whole car blends so many disciplines from interior design, architecture, sculpture, fabric design, lighting and technology. I asked Brett how he was keeping ahead of the competition who so often imitated elements such as the Bentley diamond quilting. He had a swift answer, they have incorporated three dimensional fabric diamonds in the door panels, evolving Bentley’s branding even further. This level of craftsmanship demands new complex skills and techniques that will keep Bentley at the forefront of luxury manufacture for years. And they will keep innovating.
As Brett explains they have a customer base that is willing to support and encourage them to create new and incredible cars far into the future. Though he ruefully admits the one problem they might have is clients demanding they build this car now. Having seen it, I would totally understand. The first two thoughts that pop into your head when you see the EXP 100 GT are “Wow” and then “I want one.”
The good news is that if you really, really wanted it and had very deep pockets they could build it, pretty much to spec. Though Brett never said that….
The EXP 100 GT will reach 0-62 mph in 2.5 seconds with a range of 435 miles. They will make use of the AI personal Bentley assistant to help with all the fiddly bits like charging the car, lighting and ambiance. But if you’re going to miss the roar of a W12 or V8 you’ll have to record your Bentley petrol engine revving now and play the result through the AI media system.
Bentley are committed to producing hybrid versions of every model by 2023 and there may be an all electric version in the planning (you didn’t hear that from me).
Bentley recognise that as architecture, mobility, urban environments and homes become more technologically enhanced, there will be a synchronicity of design that blends across all disciplines. They are ably positioned to be the curators and guardians of quality British craftsmanship in luxury travel. The Bentley EXP 100 GT is both a well merited boast of their extraordinary skills and a promise of their dedication to the future of sustainable, intelligent craftsmanship. A last thought, the sum of the parts that were employed to build this car and rarity alone make this sculpture a work of art. I wonder what it would be worth as the only one of its kind at auction?
Stefan Sielaff, Director of Design, who has a prestigious track record in the automotive business, said at the launch that of all the projects he had worked on, this was the one that made him the most proud. I can well believe it.
The Bentley EXP 100 GT is a magnificent opus. I can’t wait to see what they do next.