The luxury design of tomorrow will go further than today’s mix of heritage, performance and exclusivity. Brands evolve with the requirements and aspirations of their customers. Since the 2008 global recession, traditional notions of luxury—such as labels and wealth—have gone into retreat. Today, the experience a product provides has become as important as the object itself.
A manufacturer of luxury vehicles has both a duty and a desire to make bold changes in the way its products are built and driven. Founded exactly 100 years ago, the British luxury automotive manufacturer Bentley is exploring the expanding horizons opened by new technology and pioneering research in our fast-changing world. So how will forward-thinking systems and far-reaching collaborations shape the extraordinary journeys of the future?
The Bentley EXP 100 GT is first and foremost a grand tourer—a car designed for distance and high performance with zero emissions. Silent, swift propulsion is provided by Bentley’s Next Generation Traction Drive, an ultra-light four-motor electric drivetrain that delivers hugely impressive performance from its solid-state batteries, ultra-fast charging and 700km range. In-car artificial intelligence (AI) manages power usage adeptly, with systems like self-parking integrating with charging requirements. Unique active wheel and tyre designs, developed in collaboration with Pirelli, can change their profile for the ultimate in aerodynamic efficiency.
Bentley’s 100 years of history celebrate the desirability of travelling in style. From its earliest days, this desire has been driven by the emotive power of performance. The synthesis of technology and craftsmanship enables the Bentley EXP 100 GT to go further, emphasising every facet of the driving experience. Whether it is cutting-edge performance, the tactile qualities of artisan materials, the theatrical dance of the lighting or simply the pleasure of travelling to new places to create memories to share—experience is an eternally valuable commodity. Mr Leary describes the Bentley EXP 100 GT as being a “digital mirror to the world”.
“The more you use it, the more you embed memories of travel within it,” he adds. “It’s not just a car journey, it’s about seamless luxury mobility. A lot of our work is about taking the intelligence already embedded in cars and joining the dots in a different way to reinvent the luxury experience.” For example, cameras might pick up the colours of the landscape and feed them back into the mood lighting.
Through cityscapes and semi-automated highways and across mountain passes, coastal highways and desert roads, the Bentley EXP 100 GT adapts, absorbing the sensations of the journey. Four driving modes demonstrate the evergreen value of lived physical experiences over virtual ones. “Enhance” injects the best qualities of the outside world into the interior—the smell of a pine forest or the ocean, for example—while ”Cocoon” creates a more cosseting, introverted space that accentuates the tactile, visual and olfactory qualities of the interior. “Capture” mode embeds transient memories of a journey into the car’s artificial intelligence, with a “Re-live” mode ready to revive them at any time.
Although the romance of the grand tour will never fade, desires and destinations shift and change. Luxury transportation design must incorporate social responsibility and sustainability, as well as carefully managed technology to ensure it does not become overly invasive. Bentley has imagined the car as a physical repository of memory, storing the experience of travel, and designed to delight and inspire as well as comfort, cosset and refresh. The luxury journey of the future is about the seamless integration of craft, design and technology, overseen by an unobtrusive AI that values human senses and emotions above all. “You will see intelligent materials in our production cars,” says Mr Leary, “exploring the ways in which information and light are communicated. If you join technologies together, you can do something beautiful.” Future journeys are destined to become part of this rolling archive, a highly crafted object embedded with memories for generations to come.
Click here to find out more about the EXP 100 GT and explore Bentley’s vision for the future.