Observers may be astonished that the wire mesh-looking radiator grille on the E144,450 Bentley Continental Flying Spur is plastic.
Bentley is not cost-cutting or trying to save weight on the 2500kg machine.
The grille is designed with pedestrian safety in mind, said engineering director Ulrich Eichhorn. On impact, he said, the grille breaks and the relatively soft radiator behind it then deforms.
Bentley said it has not designed the grille to help the Flying Spur meet European Union pedestrian safety regulations that require a bigger crush zone between the person being hit and so-called hard points such as the engine.
“It was to meet our own standards,” Eichhorn said.
He doubts whether the EU’s new pedestrian safety regulations will do much to protect pedestrians.
“No matter how you try to soften it, a car is hard,” Eichhorn said. The “really bad impact” is the secondary impact, when the pedestrian hits the street, he added.
“The best thing is to avoid the crash.”