Here’s a bit of a surprise, Bentley, long seen as a car of excess has begun to look at things in a little more frugal manner. Coming to market along with the next gen Continental model will be new powertrains and more than just that, weight reduction will also be part of the program.
Franz-Josef Paefgen Bentley CEO mentioned at this years the Geneva Motor Show that an all-new powertrain would appear in Bentleys by 2012. He did not give specifics, but the rumors flew that it would be a diesel, since Bentley is part of the Volkswagen group. A diesel would be an obvious choice with its high torque being a good match for the big British luxury machines. All of the current Continental variants are powered by very impressive twin-turbo W12s with VW DNA.
If Bentley forgoes the diesel route, another option theorized would be a plug-in electric vehicle. Since Bentleys already cost you an arm and a leg, they could more easily absorb the cost of batteries and hybrid hardware. The hybrid system being developed by VW and Porsche, and most probably headed for SUVs, is modular enough that it could be adapted to other vehicles. Adding plug-in capability would be technically easy, and could allow the Continental to operate silently at lower speeds on electricity.
Now about that diet. The new Continental SuperSports that bowed in Geneva actually started as a weight reduction project, and THEN flex-fuel capability was added to the engine. The next gen Continental is expected to drop about 400 lbs through increased aluminum and high strength steel. Good, these cars were pretty hefty to begin with.