At every auto show, there’s always at least one manufacturer that tries to spring a surprise with a not-even-hinted-at new model. And although there’s still plenty of time for Geneva to produce some more astonishment—as of this writing, the first press day hasn’t even started—first blood goes to Bentley with the EXP 10 Speed 6.
To be fair, the dedicated Crewe-ologist can look back and find some fairly broad hints that the company was planning to do a smaller sporty car to slot below the existing Continental. We reported on the possibility, in fact, last July. But the EXP 10 still came as a radical surprise, not least of all because it looks so much lighter and more agile than Bentley’s existing range of continent-crushers.
There’s something very Aston Martin Vantage–ish about the rear haunches, and with McLaren about to launch the smaller, cheaper Sports Series, this seems as good a time as any to start dropping hints about getting a smaller luxury sports car onto the market.
Predictably, we’re light on details at this point, although Bentley does admit—with what we’re taking to be typical British understatement—that the Speed 6 is a “potential future model line” and a “bold vision for a brand with a bold future.” Marketing fluff aside, if the company doesn’t build something very similar to this, it’s officially crazy.
It certainly looks pretty much ready for production, from the mesh front grilles to the vast new headlights, the innards of which have reportedly been inspired by Bentley’s love of quilted leather upholstery. Speaking of which, the leather-lined cabin looks like you could find it in a showroom already, with details like the miniature milled metal gear selector, the curved central touch screen, and the analog tachometer’s integration into the digital gauge cluster being particularly nice. Bentley, as always, gives good cabin.
Although the official release doesn’t even confirm that the Speed 6 has an engine, its name gives us plenty of excuse to speculate about what mechanical package a production version might carry. “Six” suggests an engine with that many cylinders—on the basis that Bentley’s early-2000s Speed 8 Le Mans racer had a V-8, not to mention the marque’s sporty six-cylinder Speed 6 of the 1920s. However, Bentley insiders have previously been adamant that the company has no plans to produce any cars with fewer than eight cylinders until fuel-economy standards pry the controls for the milling machine out of its cold, dead hands. The Audi-engineered twin-turbocharged V-8 that powers the slightly less well-endowed members of the Continental clan (and the Audi RS7) would seem like the ideal unit for such duties, especially if a Bentley were to go head-to-head with the V-8–equipped Aston Vantage and (we presume) eight-cylinder McLaren Sports Series. Let’s put the name down as a red herring then, and move on.
As for price, potential on-sale date, and which of Volkswagen Group’s heavily acronymized platforms it will sit on, we’ll have to wait and find out. But something this good just has to be given life.
source: caranddriver.com By Mike Duff