25th Mar 2015
Bentley's 911 fighter?
Durheimer – returning to Bentley’s top seat after a two-year absence – stated that, after the arrival of the SUV late in 2015, Bentley will introduce a fifth model line, following Conti GT, Flying Spur, Mulsanne and that SUV.
Though he was clear the shape of that fifth model has not yet been decided, Durheimer admitted it had been narrowed down to the choice of two: either an as-yet-unspecified model to sit between Conti GT and Mulsanne, or a two-seater sports car that could undercut the cheapest Continental GT. TopGear knows which of these it wants to see.
So how might an entry-level, two-seat Bentley look? Well, it seems unlikely it’d clock in cheap enough to rival, say, the Jaguar F-Type. When TopGear asked if he could imagine a Bentley half the price of the cheapest Continental GT – meaning a tag somewhere around $180,000 – Durheimer seemed reluctant to stoop so low.
“There will never be a cheap Bentley, this is for sure,” he said. “A Bentley […] will never be a mass market car, it will never be approachable for everybody. It needs to be a solid statement in terms of luxury and performance.” So we’d likely be looking, in price terms, at a Merc AMG GT rather than a Porsche Cayman rival.
Whatever the fifth model line, it’d likely be offered with the option of hybrid power, with Durheimer announcing that virtually every future Bentley will boast a hybrid variant. And a two-seater could use engines smaller than the firm’s current range of V8 and W12 powerplants, Durheimer saying Bentley is currently exploring the potential of a V6 petrol hybrid.
And here’s the best bit. The fifth model – likely to be signed off in 2016 – could even get a rear-wheel drive variant. Bentley has had great track success this year with its Continental GT3 racer, which ditches the road car’s four-wheel drive set-up in favour of a lighter RWD system.
Durheimer – who knows all about rear-wheel drive, having acted as Porsche’s R&D chief before heading to Bugatti and Bentley – hinted this could find its way onto high-performance road-going Bentleys.
Durheimer also confirmed that future Bentleys would focus far more on weight reduction, highlighting the 1000kg shaved from the Conti GT for GT3 racing duty.
25th Mar 2015