Bentley is coming up with the idea of making a four door coupe that will compete with the likes of the Mercedes CLS63 AMG and BMW M6 Gran Coupe. This would slot in beneath their continental GT, within their range. There was a board meeting earlier in the year where Wolfgang Schreiber, the chairman, got together with staff to talk about how they would expand their range of vehicles and what platform would be used for them.
They have already confirmed that there will be an SUV available in 2015 and this was previewed in 2012 at the Geneva Motor Show. There will also be a third generation Continental GT family as well as the new Mulsanne. The new baby Bentley idea has come as rather a shock though and will be likely to either be a standalone model or form part of the Conti range.
It is expected that it will be about the size of the continental GT which is 4.8 meters long. It will be a sporty and dynamic model which is expected to be the car that is produced in the biggest volume in Crewe with 5000-6000 deliveries a year predicted. It is expected the price will be between 125k and 150k Euros with a diesel and V6 engine as a possibility. It will be underpinned by a Porsche architecture but will have its own interior and sheet metal.
On the 30th January the board at Bentley made the decision about the underpinnings. They were choosing between a MSN architecture that Porsche devised and a D5 platform by Audi. D5 will be used for the A8 saloon and A8 coupe and is an aluminium space frame. MSB is a modular rear drive matrix which will be used first on the Porsche Panamera II in 2015.
The Audi platform is light and is compatible with W12 and V8 diesels as well as hybrids but it still lost out to the MSB. A Bentley official explained that the D5 would probably have done as well for the continental cars but they were looking or something that would be more flexible across the whole brand right in to 2020. They wanted something that will work under a Mulsanne successor and they could potentially use it for something less than 5 meters as well.
This does offer a choice of materials. It is aluminium intensive but it could have some steel in there for strength as well as lightweight items to get the right combinations. It means they can balance weight and strength, making the car as efficient as possible. It is also really likes by designers because the front axle can be pulled forwards by 100mm which gives it better proportions.
The engines will be in the front or middle position. Audi and Bentley will develop the W12 but they are looking to Porsche for the next generation of V engines. It has been predicted that there will be new 3.0 litre V6’s and 4.0 litre V8’s which will differ in performance according to the brand they are matched with and there will also be differing cylinders and turbo technology.
The engineers also prefer the MSB because it means that they can choose between rear-wheel and all-wheel drive. This makes it more sophisticated than the Quattro which started as front wheel drive. It will mean that there has to be a modified sump, second propshaft and integrated differential but the weight is hardly any different compared to the D5.
The platform is lighter and it could actually reduce the Continental GT’s weight by up to 450kg and it would be an option to support three out of four Bentleys; the Azure/Brroklands/Mulsanne, ContoGTIII and baby Bentley.
The MSB can accommodate a lot of engine options as well. It can support anything from a fourpot to a W12. Bentley will be using V8/W12 engines for the Continental GT and Flying Spur with four wheel drive. The Supersport models may go to a rear drive option though.
After they made the decision about the platform they worked on the exterior design of the SUV and five days later signed it off. The concept car got a terrible reception and so they had to go for something new. This model will have the MBL-evo platform which has been made for the Audi Q7 Mk2. Bentley is expecting that they will sell 3000-4000 4x4s each year with just petrol engines in them.
The Mulsanne flagship lino is not due until 2020. It is known as the BY841 internally and will be expensive and upmarket to compete with Rolls Royce Phantom. It will switch to a 4WD and W12 engine when the 6.75 litre V8 is phased out.
It is also expected that there will be a V8 electric hybrid Flying Spur available in 2015. The diesel option was put on ice due to a lack of demand but the baby Bentley coupe may have that engine. Together with the SUV it should help to double Bentleys sales. They made 8510 last year so that is a big increase and it shows that the brand are certainly very determined to grow and very quickly.