Wednesday, February 16, 2011

New trio of Bentleys

Brits plan new family, based on models from sister brand Porsche, five-door coup� to be joined by crossover, baby GT

New trio of Bentleys estoque
The Bentley empire is spreading! Bosses are hard at work plotting models with bodystyles new to the marque � but it won�t be the usual VW technology underneath.

The cars will be underpinned by Porsche architecture � a fact confirmed to us by the new CEO of Bentley, Wolfgang D�rheimer, who is also outgoing head of R&D at Porsche.

First on the agenda, as we reported in Issue 1,136, will be a �150,000 five-door coup� version of the Continental GT. It was originally thought that Bentley would base this car on a version of the VW Group�s modular longitudinal platform that underpins the Audi A7 and the upcoming A9. But in light of the new boss�s revelation, it�s almost certain the next-generation Panamera will be the donor.

Petrol engine choices are expected to include a reworked version of the current W12 � with upwards of 600bhp � as well as the new turbocharged 4.0-litre V8, set to debut early next year in the Continental GT. An oil-burner shouldn�t be ruled out, either, after VW Group chairman, Dr Ferdinand Piech, told us recently: �You will see diesel at Bentley.�

A crossover is also under consideration, based on the Cayenne, although this Bentley 4x4 will have an even more luxurious interior and use the same engine range as the five-door coup�. The Cross Continental badge has been touted, along with a price of around �120,000.

Last, but certainly not least, is a �90,000 coup� to slot into the range below the Continental GT. This would be aimed squarely at the likes of the Maserati GranTurismo and Mercedes SL63 AMG. It should be a volume seller for Bentley, and could push annual registrations way beyond the 10,000 peak recorded in 2007.

Don�t expect to see this new family of models until the next Panamera arrives in 2015. In the meantime, the second-generation Continental GT will spawn new versions of the GTC drop-top and Flying Spur saloon, with similar styling and mechanical t
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