Bentley’s Aero-Ace project

Bentl Gf 190110
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Shawn Deutchman, 26 from the US
Deutchman has proposed the Silhouette, an electric car that announces its power through a long bonnet and muscular rear stance. ‘Like a sprinter leaving the blocks, the vehicle has a forward momentum,’ he says.

Sam Livingstone, senior tutor in vehicle design at the Royal College of Art recently noted, ‘We are seeing a return to the prominence of aerodynamics, and the aerodynamic look, to both deliver and visually convey efficiency.”

This was the initiative behind Aero-Ace, a collaborative design project, just completed with Bentley (opens in new tab) - the objective being to explore a new aerodynamic design direction for the luxury marque. Second year RCA (opens in new tab) students were asked to identify a new vehicle direction for Bentley that would appeal to the ecologically conscious consumer.

Aided by specialist EXA (opens in new tab) evaluation software PowerFlow, their two-dimensional design proposals for a conceptual coupé needed to embrace aerodynamics in order to both reduce energy consumption and form part of a future Bentley design aesthetic.

The software simulates the aerodynamics of design at a digital model stage.  The advantage being that it enables two-dimensional models to be accurately tested for their aerodynamic performance without having to make an actual real-life car.

The 18 participating students came up with very different proposals, with aero performance results ranging from CD 0.167 to 0.35. Livingstone notes: ‘There are no two that are thematically similar despite all being large Bentley coupés.’ The degree to which aerodynamics plays a role depends on the marque, although Livingstone has noticed a growing trend in considering aero performance at the early stages of design.

Exacting customers now expect their cars to have unwavering stability in all conditions, offer refined driving and the sort of speeds that 20 or so years ago would have applied only to purist sports cars. ‘So aerodynamics in car design is unarguably more important than ever. However, some companies still consider aerodynamics only at the end of a programme where they merely tweak details,’ says Livingstone.

The winner will be announced on 5 February and will spend six months working at Bentley.

Associated with power and style


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Anand Krishnan, 29 from India
‘Bentley is associated with power and style, which I interpret as refined aggression,’ explains the designer. The second skin works as a layer to channel air away to the rear for improved aero performance.

Aerodynamic sports car


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Augustin Barbot, 26, from France
Barbot has created an aerodynamic sports car with very thin wheels, featuring four wind turbines integrated in the wheel arches to provide the batteries with electricity. The double curved roof minimises air resistance. ‘The two-part retractable roof allows the seats to move into three different configurations: the driving position of a speedster, a coupe and a roadster, all in one car,’ says the designer.

Bentley’s airplane engine


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Dalibor Pantucek, 26, from the Czech Republic
The Spitfire was inspired by Bentley’s airplane engine-making heritage – the teardrop body shape taking direct cues from aviation. The hidden wheels work like aircraft wings helping with down force.

David Seesing


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David Seesing, 26 from Germany
The Mirage is a 2+2 seater electric concept car, aimed at a younger buyer. ‘With only two eyes, the Mirage shows its real identity when the blacked out headlights are switched on,’ says Seesing. ‘The vertical orientation of the lights takes inspiration from Bentley’s historic 8-litre car.’

The Mirage

The Mirage, as proposed by David Seesing.

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Bentley Motors


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Gabriel Tam, 27 from Australia
The Speed VI aims to revive and celebrate the sporting heritage of Bentley Motors. ‘Following in the footsteps of the original Speed 6, 4½ -litre, and more recently the Speed 8 Le Mans racer, the Speed VI is created for the discerning Bentley track day enthusiast,’ says Tam.

Aerodynamic efficiency


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Jong Won Lee, 33 from South Korea
The N(Neo fire) has been inspired by the post-neoclassical period, says the designer who has covered the wheels for enhanced aerodynamic efficiency.

Miika Heikkinen


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Miika Heikkinen, 26, from Finland
TEN11 is inspired by the number of feathers in the Bentley logo - 10 on the left, eleven on the right. Heikkinen designed the electric prototype with a professional kite boarder in mind. ‘The traditional long bonnet creates a possibility to have a big storage place under it - a feature demanded by a lot of Bentley customers,’ says the designer.

Bentl Gf 190110

Miika Heikkinen's TEN11.

(Image credit: press)

Niki Merriman


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Niki Merriman, 24 from the UK
Insects were the inspiration behind Nodus, with its overlapping layers on the body panel. Merriman has covered the rear wheels to aid the aerodynamics. When stationary the side windows have the ability to change to the same colour as the body for security and privacy. When the vehicle is in use the colour bleeds away to a clear window.

Philipp Siebourg


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Philipp Siebourg, 30 from Germany
‘My mid-engine vision is influenced by Bentley’s racing tradition,’ says Siebourg. The teardrop cabin guides airflow to the rear, the diffuser manages to reduce the lift of the vehicle in the back, plus the low bonnet cuts back on turbulence at the front of the vehicle.

Teardrop-influenced design

Philipp Siebourg’s teardrop-influenced design.

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Rui Guo


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Rui Guo, 22 from China
The Serenade GT is an electric sports car inspired by jewellery. The two channels between the hood and front wheels guide airflow through the body to the side, for reduced air drag. Guo explains: ‘The structure at the rear end naturally forms a two-layered diffuser, increasing the down-force from the airflow.’

Rui Guo’s Serenade GT

Rui Guo’s Serenade GT

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