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Bentley's EXP 10 Speed 6: up close with the future of British luxury

Some are calling Bentley's curvy EXP 10 Speed 6 concept the winner among Volkswagen Group's many announcements here in Geneva this year, if not the outright winner of the entire Geneva Motor Show. That may be a stretch — there are countless beautiful, nigh-unattainable cars here — but it's still pretty easy to make the argument.

Ultra-luxe touches come easy at the hands of Bentley designers, but the Speed 6 is next-level: take the gear selector, for instance, which features a solid metal "B" peeking out of the sides from beneath a matte-finished wooden handle. The doors — which just look like normal doors when closed — actually open up at an angle, a little like the scissor doors found on some exotics. The leather that's touching virtually every surface of the car looks like it's from bespoke cows sourced from some supernaturally serene pasture on another planet.

There's quite a bit of technology here, too, which is not traditionally one of Bentley's strong suits. Circular LCDs poke out from behind the analog gauges in front of the driver, a lovely combination of old and new. (Presumably, the digital gauges would be configurable in a production version of the car.) The centerpiece, though, has to be the curved touchscreen running between the driver and passenger — curved displays are everywhere in the consumer electronics industry these days, and it was only a matter of time before they made the jump to automotive.

Everything about the Speed 6 seems production-ready — there are a few things like the ultra-ornate headlamps and the subtle "6" behind the front grille that might not make it to a real car, but it's certainly well beyond the vaporware stage. Indeed, Bentley is taking a very nudge-nudge, wink-wink attitude with the car: although it's technically a concept, company officials are very clear about the fact that it could foreshadow a production model. As with many concept cars, the company is probably using Geneva as a litmus test to gauge just how many well-heeled automobile enthusiasts start drooling at the Speed 6's sight.

And drool they will.

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