The Revolving Dashboard of Bentley Replaces Changeable Technology With Everlasting Beauty.

The £4,865 option ensures that Bentley's interior never appears out of date.

The Revolving Dashboard of Bentley Replaces Changeable Technology With Everlasting Beauty.
Image credit: Bentley

In 50 years, will a dashboard cover in touchscreen screens stick out like a sore thumb on the manicured lawns of classic car Concours at Pebble Beach and Villa d'Este? This is a worry for Bentley, which is why it spent three years inventing the Bentley Rotating Dashboard.

The mechanism, an ingenious bit of precision engineering, rotates a significant portion of the dashboard like Jame Bond's number plates, revolving between the infotainment system, three analog instruments, and a blank veneer at the touch of a button. It's a fantastic piece of design, and it deserves the £4,865 Bentley saves you when you add it to your car. Despite the expense, it's a very popular choice, with Bentley claiming that over 70% of buyers select the Rotating Display option.

It's also clever. Over 150 components, 40 moving parts, and two motors with their own gearboxes are all controlled by a specialized computer and work in perfect unison to provide the driver with whichever of the three views they desire. The alignment of each face is exact to 0.3mm, and the entire system, like any other component, must withstand any temperature or humidity the planet can throw at it.

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Bentley claims that the system is self-teaching, in that the ECU utilizes 'intelligent speed control' to alter how quickly the dashboard spins, accommodating for variations in mechanical friction and battery voltage. However, that speed cannot vary too much because car legislation requires a reverse camera image to emerge within two seconds of the gear being picked, therefore the display must turn around to show the display at any time.

Inside, two fans keep the display cool and effective in temperatures as high as 50 degrees Celsius.

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The three analog clocks on one face display the outside air temperature (which is also displayed on the instrument panel behind the steering wheel), a compass, and a chronometer. For all those occasions when you want to time your 0-60 mph sprints or Silverstone laps.

I'm being facetious; of course, no one will use these dials, except perhaps the thermometer, but that's not the point. The Bentley Rotating Display is a lesson in minimalism; it is an attempt to streamline the interior and create a style that Bentley and its customers hope will last.

The infotainment screen, at 12.3 inches, isn't overly enormous, especially in a car the size of a Bentley, but for purists, it robs a full foot of dashboard veneer - a veneer customers no doubt put a lot of thought into when ordering their vehicle.

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On some travels, there is a perfectly plausible argument against the requirement for the central display. When you know where you're going and don't require navigation, or when you're content to listen to the radio, a podcast, or a playlist and don't need immediate access to media control beyond the steering wheel buttons. Furthermore, if you're content with the car's navigation system – something I'm not always fond of – directions appear on the instrument panel and head-up display.

I strongly advise you to keep the touchscreen hidden. It's the automotive equivalent of limiting your smartphone screen time by replacing a distracting display with a pleasant set of dials or doing nothing at all. It adds a sense of tranquility to the room and just feels perfect in its own subtle manner.

When I drive a Bentley press car with the rotating dashboard-mounted, I enjoy hiding the screen when it isn't needed. And, of course, it's a fantastic party trick to demonstrate to your passenger.

Almost £5,000 is a lot of money to spend on a novelty that will keep your Bentley looking classic for decades to come. But when it makes you feel like James Bond – who, remember, drove a Bentley until Q insisted on an Aston Martin – the price is almost forgiven.