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Bentley EXP10 Speed 6 Concept - What It Really Means

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 3/3/2015 Angus MacKenzie
Bentley EXP10 Speed 6 Concept - What It Really Means

If it’s possible to have stolen the 2015 Geneva Motor Show before the doors even opened, Bentley might have done it. The Bentley EXP10 Speed 6 concept, unveiled at the annual orgy of new metal that is Volkswagen Group Night (12 new production cars or concepts, plus a new Ducati this year) is precisely the sort of low-slung, high-performance two-seater that routinely grabs auto show headlines. But the EXP10 Speed 6 is more than just eye-candy: It’s a genuine glimpse into the future of Bentley.

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And it’s not just the styling, though the EXP10 Speed 6’s tight, taut panels clearly show direction Bentley design chief Luc Donckerwolke intends pursuing. What’s more important about this car is what lies underneath, and what it represents.

The EXP10 Speed 6 confirms two things we told you last year : First, that Bentley is seriously considering adding a fifth vehicle family to its model lineup. And second, that Bentley’s next-generation Continental GT and Flying Spur will be moving to VW Group’s MSB vehicle architecture.

Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 Concept© Provided by MotorTrend Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 Concept Take a closer look at the EXP10 Speed 6. Notice how how far forward the front axle centerline is from the front door? That alone tells you this car is designed around MSB hardware. The front engine sits entirely behind the front axle centerline and not ahead of it as in the current Conti GT and Flying Spur, which share their basic platforms with the first-generation Volkswagen Phaeton.

A quick recap on MSB: Like VW’s MQB (Golf, Audi A4, Passat, etc.) and MLB (Audi A8, Audi Q7, and the new Bentley Bentayga, etc.), it’s a highly flexible vehicle architecture. In VW-speak, MSB-M means mid-engine RWD or AWD, and will underpin the forthcoming Ferrari 458-fighting Porsche 960 as well as the next-gen Cayman/Boxster; MSB-H means rear-engine RWD or AWD, and will form the basis of the next 911; MSB-F means front engine RWD or AWD, and is designed to support Porsche’s next-generation Panamera (plus a rumored Panamera Coupe) as well as the Continental and Flying Spur replacements.

Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 Concept© Provided by MotorTrend Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 Concept The EXP10 Speed 6 shows how MSB will change the proportion of those cars. For the better.

As to the likelihood of a production version of the EXP10 Speed 6, Bentley sources will only say that a decision is a long way off. Bentley boss Wolfgang Dürheimer says he wants to add another vehicle to the Bentley family. A luxurious, two-seat sports car to tempt long-time Benz SL buyers makes a lot of sense, but Crewe’s first priority is to successfully launch the Bentayga SUV, a vehicle that could increase Bentley worldwide sales by 50 percent.

Bentley Bentayga teaser image© Provided by MotorTrend Bentley Bentayga teaser image And ultra-lux SUVs are hot: One senior Bentley insider confirmed the company is currently holding 4,500 purchase orders for the Bentayga – before a single production car has even been built. And the Bentayga – which itself will migrate to the MSB architecture when the next-generation car appears in 2023 – will be joined by rivals from Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini, and Mercedes-Maybach by the end of the decade.

The growing mania for ultra-lux SUVs may therefore push back plans for a production version of the EXP10 Speed 6. Instead, say sources, a Bentayga Coupe might make more economic sense for Bentley. And that vehicle will almost certainly be built on the MSB architecture to give it the truly extravagant proportions it deserves.

Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 Concept© Provided by MotorTrend Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 Concept
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