Bentley’s new aero ambitions

British luxury carmaker Bentley, not famed for creating the most aerodynamic sculptures, is seemingly taking a new approach to the design of its future cars.

In a recent ‘Bentley of the Future’ competition held at the RCA post graduate school in London the carmaker challenged second year vehicle design students to come up with a future Bentley Continental GT that scored high on aero efficiency without sacrificing the Bentley design DNA.

This approach isn’t all that surprising. All carmakers have to reduce their fuel consumption and one logical way is to manipulate how air interacts with the moving car.

The four shortlisted students came up with a range of interesting approaches – two of which were so strong that Bentley decided to give the students a six-month internship at its design studios in Crew, UK.

One of the winners, 26 year old Bora Kim from South Korea, designed a car that was inspired by sand dunes. She explains: ‘In the same way, the sharp edges and lines on my car appear and disappear.’

Bentley’s head of exterior design Raul Pires told us he was very impressed with her simple approach – she blew wind on a light fabric covering a Continental GT model, mimicked the movement of air and applied this to her design. This simple enough approach achieved an aero performance of just 0.23cd.

Joint winner David Seesing, 26, from Germany meticulously morphed his original design to reduce drag from the initial 0.35 to 0.299cd. The student applied small measures such as a more edgy rear for aero efficiency.

Sam Livingstone, senior RCA tutor in vehicle design who worked closely with the students throughout the project, says: ‘We are seeing a return to the prominence of aerodynamics, and the aerodynamic look, to both deliver and visually convey efficiency.’

He says he has noticed a growing trend in considering aero performance in the early stages of design.

Read the report during the competition published in Wallpaper* and on completion in evo. Also read our review of the 2011 Continental GT here.

Nargess Shahmanesh Banks

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