Nowadays, the gap between what a model belonging to a luxury brand offers and the more affluent versions of models produced by so-called generic brands has shrunk considerably. In fact, you often find almost the same level of equipment in the later, while the quality of finish is comparable.
For a real difference, you have to go to the top-level luxury manufacturers such as Rolls-Royce and Bentley, where you can often find really different things. Given the prices these companies sell their products for, they don't really have a choice.
The latest innovation that caught our attention has to do with the 2021 Bentley Flying Spur, which features what the company calls "three-dimensional wood". In fact, the wood trim in the doors has the same effect as the quilted leather in the seats, which has a diamond-shaped pattern. The effect is quite dramatic.
To achieve this effect, each quarter panel is made from a single block of wood; Bentley uses either walnut or American cherry wood. The first step in creating this component involves machining the back of the log to match a die-cast aluminum door panel template. It’s then glued to this template, and then the work of skilled craftsmen begins. They carve the wood on its three-dimensional surface with a multi-axis router with a tolerance of 0.1 mm. They then finish the cuts by hand to obtain a perfect result. Finally, lacquer is applied to achieve the colour and texture desired by Bentley.
This approach with 3D wood was first seen with the EXP 10 Speed 6 concept back in 2015, and the positive reaction to the innovation evidently convinced Bentley that it should be included in a production model.
“Three-dimensional wood is the latest interior design element we have taken from concept to production car,” said Brett Boydell, interior design manager for the Flying Spur. “It is in perfect harmony with the three-dimensional quilted leather interior and creates an even more special environment for those behind the wheel.”
To save you counting on your 2021 Flying Spur when you get it, know that there are 150 diamonds in all carved into the wood trim. For the time being, the large sedan is the only Bentley with which this option is available. Other models will eventually offer it, you can be sure. You can also be sure that this type of design will one day be transposed to mass-market cars using less expensive processes and 3D printing, for example.