Bentley concept brings luxury to electric cars
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If Bentley made electric cars, this is what they'd look like.
The legendary British marque, renowned for its big-engined grand tourers, took the wraps off the stunning EXP 12 Speed 6e Concept at the Geneva Motor Show today - and it's a luxury all-electric sports car that could handle a 310-mile long blast across Europe.
While a zero emissions model is only on the horizon for Bentley, which is owned by VW Group, it says this convertible concept will be used to gauge customer interest in a chargeable sports car.
Bentley's boss Wolfgang Dürheimer said the car had the 'technology, high quality materials and refinement levels you’d expect from a true Bentley'.
The carmaker is remaining secretive about how mighty the battery-supported electric motor used in the concept vehicle is, however, there have been suggestions it will share powerplants with fellow VW brand, Porsche.
That could mean a similar output to the Mission E concept the German performance car maker revealed at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show.
The Porsche, which is expected to be production-ready by 2020, boasted a 592bhp motor and four-wheel drive, which translates to a 0 to 62mph time of just 3.5 seconds.
The showcasing of the Bentley today highlights how seriously the world's most famous luxury and sporting brands are taking electric power.
As you would expect from the British carmaker, the interior is awash with fine leather, wood and carpets - it looks as opulent as a Bentley should.
Both the Bentley and the Porsche should also feature the most advanced fast-charge systems, meaning the batteries can be boosted to 80 per cent capacity in a quarter of an hour.
But while the powertrain remains speculation for now, what's undeniable is how eyebrow-raisingly good the EXP 12 Speed 6e looks.
It closely follows the design of the previous EXP 10 concept, featuring a '6' embedded into the oversized grille, prominent sculpting around the sills and the doors and a deeply-chiselled bonnet.
Speaking at the unveiling in Geneva, Wolfgang Dürheimer, chairman and chief executive of Bentley Motors, said: 'The EXP 12 Speed 6e is a concept to show that Bentley is defining electric motoring in the luxury sector, with the appropriate technology, high quality materials and refinement levels you’d expect from a true Bentley.'
'This concept enables us to engage with luxury customers and gather feedback on our approach.'
'Bentley is committed to offering an electric model in its future portfolio and we are interested to receive feedback on this concept.'
The manufacturer also promised that elements of the design language featured on the EXP 12 will be passed down to new-release conventional models it will make available in the next few years.
Being a concept, there are a few exaggerated features seen here that you're unlikely to see in production form - not least the enormous alloy wheels and small cameras mounted on stems that replace the wing mirrors on this vehicle.
But wait until you see the inside. It has a chopped steering wheel with buttons fixed to the stumps where the top of the wheel has been lopped off. One is an instant boost button while the other is a speed limiter - whatever you do, don't mix the two up!
The cabin also features high resolution displays, compass-like instruments and an ignition button that looks like it could launch an Apollo mission, rather than engage an electric motor.
Back to reality, this still remains a concept for now. That said, a plug-in hybrid version of the Bentayga SUV should be available from next year, suggesting the electrified direction the British brand is going in.