Bentley auto news

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Exclusive: Bentley considering diesel engine for new SUV

03/05/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Geneva Motor Show, Bentley, Diesel

Bentley EXP 9 F

Turns out, in case you didn't know, the rich are just like regular people. They too are concerned about the environment, even when tooling around town in their super-luxurious Bentleys. So the automaker is weighing the idea of offering a diesel engine in its SUV offering, which could help satisfy customers' demands for more fuel-efficient engines.

Chairman and CEO Wolfgang Schreiber told Autoblog in a roundtable interview at the Geneva Auto Show that the automaker is researching whether or not a diesel engine makes sense for the brand. Bentley, owned by the Volkswagen Group, could in theory use a diesel engine from anywhere in the Volkswagen Group family. We at Autoblog have hopes they'll revive the V10 TDI used in the VW Touareg until 2010, but ever-stricter emissions laws would likely make that problematic.

But rich people aren't so much like us that they'll be worried about petty things like pricing. Schreiber admitted the diesel engine could be a $15,000 option, which he said customers would probably find "acceptable." Given that the cheapest Bentley today starts at $177,000, typical customers probably won't be diddling around worrying about an extra 15 grand.

Schreiber verified that the SUV, which was confirmed for production in January, will go on sale in 2017. The SUV, based on the EXP 9 F concept shown in Geneva in 2012, is being designed from the start to include a plug-in hybrid powertrain. Other Bentleys are expected to get the plug-in hybrid powertrain down the line, and the automaker is also considering another four-door sedan or a two-door coupe, but Schreiber said it's too early to talk about what those vehicles may be. The automaker won't follow Maserati's lead and make something radically cheaper, like the Ghibli. "If you go too far away from where we are today, there is too much chance you could disappoint the current customer," Schreiber said.

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Geneva: 2014 Bentley Continental GT Speed arrives as the fastest Flying B to date

03/05/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Convertibles, Coupes, Sports/GTs, Geneva Motor Show, Euro, Bentley, Luxury

Bentley Continental GT Speed

We know what you must be thinking: another Bentley Continental. And we can hardly argue with you, because that's exactly what this is. But what you're actually looking at is the fastest production Bentley ever.

It's the new Continental GT Speed, and it's just been unveiled in both coupe and convertible form here in Geneva. Its 6.0-liter twin-turbo W12 engine has been tuned to deliver 626 horsepower to all four wheels. That's just five horses more than the previous Continental Supersports, but with all the other enhancements applied to the Conti in the mid-cycle refresh, it's actually faster.

While the previous Supersports could reach 204 miles per hour, the new GT Speed can hit 206. (The revised drop-top GTC Speed is quoted at 203 mph, one tick faster than the Supersports Convertible). Of course none of that will, practically speaking, mean anything in real-world driving (especially considering that Crewe hasn't released any acceleration figures), but is worth that extra bit of bragging rights. It also sets the stage nicely for the next Supersports model, which in this context ought to be even faster and more powerful.

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First Drive: 2014 Bentley Continental GT V8 S

02/11/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Coupes, Sports/GTs, Bentley, Driving, Luxury

2014 Bentley Continental GT V8 S

Bentley still appeals to those with an appreciation for strong, Old World traditionalism. Cars wearing the storied Flying B have been discussed in wood-paneled drawing rooms by men wearing earthy tweeds and corduroy through clouds of fragrant cigar and pipe smoke, for decades. It is a company that has spent nearly 100 years building cost-no-object automobiles, for rich drivers who require a tremendous way to waft above the Sturm und Drang of mortal motoring.

The Bentley Continental GT, while unmistakably a party to that legacy of wooly privilege, has always seemed better suited to the nouveau riche than the landed gentry. The Mulsanne and the Continental Flying Spur still carry forward the brand's heritage of unfathomably fast, gargantuan sedans, while the GT has been busy inveigling an entirely new class of buyer with its lottery-win good looks.

A microsecond version of that analysis was all I had time for as I careened around another heroic left-hand sweeper in this Ice (white) 2014 Bentley Continental GT V8 S. For a car with roots in rainy England and German-engineering genes, the V8 S felt remarkably at home while crushing the desert-strewn distance between San Diego and Palm Springs - almost the epicenter of the New World's Golden West.

This is grand touring of not just distance, then, but time and tradition as well.

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Official: Bentley rolls out special Birkin edition Mulsanne in Europe

01/15/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, Euro, Bentley, Luxury

Bentley Mulsanne Birkin Edition

While focus in the automotive industry this week is undeniably on the Detroit Auto Show and the North American market, Bentley has introduced a new special edition overseas based on the Mulsanne.

Named after Sir Henry "Tiger" Tim Birkin, one of the legendary Bentley Boys of the 1920s and '30s, the Mulsanne Birkin Edition upgrades on Crewe's flagship limousine with some unique touches. Available in Ghost White, Damson burgundy or a two-tone Fountain Blue and Dark Sapphire paintjob, the Birkin Mulsanne features unique 21-inch wheels, special tread plates, a unique Flying B logos stitched into the headrests and inlaid into the dashboard and rear picnic tables.

Each of the 22 examples to be made will also come with a custom luggage set and comes standard with the optional Mulliner Driving Specification and upgraded entertainment system with twin 8-inch LCDs in the seatbacks, DVD player, wifi hotspot, Naim audio system and integrated iPads. Bentley hasn't announced pricing for the special European model, but if there were ever an example of "if you have to ask, you can't afford it," surely this is it.

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Report: Bentley's SUV will be first of many plug-in hybrids

01/09/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Hybrids/Alternative, SUVs, Bentley, Electric, Luxury

Bentley EXP 9 F

Bentley is not exactly a company known for its environmental credentials. Sure, it recently cut its water usage down by over a third, and given the relatively small number of vehicles it produces, the British firm's overall impact on the environment may be negligible compared to mass-market rivals. And of course, its affluent customers are hardly likely to feel the pinch of rising fuel costs, so Bentley's idea of engine downsizing has been going from twelve cylinders to eight.

That will all change with the launch of its first SUV, previewed by the controversial EXP 9 F concept and expected to be called Falcon. To hear Auto Express tell it, the luxo-ute is being designed from the get-go to incorporate a plug-in hybrid powertrain, slated to go on sale a year after the conventional version arrives late in 2015 or early 2016. But that's just the tip of the iceberg which Bentley is trying to help keep from melting.

Following the Falcon, other Bentleys are slated to get PHEV systems as well. It'll just take a while. That's because current models like the Continental and Mulsanne were never designed to incorporate PHEV powertrain systems in the first place. So while they may get them in the long run, their integration will likely have to wait until their replacements arrive.

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Motorsports: Bentley officially returns to racing at Gulf 12hr

12/16/2013   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Coupes, Bentley, Racing

Bentley Continental GT3 at Gulf 12hr

For a company with a tendency to name its cars after parts of the Circuit de la Sarthe like Arnage and Mulsanne, Bentley sure has been gone from endurance sportscar racing for a long time. It famously won the 24 Hours of Le Mans five times in the 1920s, but didn't come back until 68 years later to win again in 2003. That was the last time Bentley competed on the world stage... until now.

Bentley first revealed its rekindled racing ambitions with the Continental GT3 at the 2012 Paris Motor Show. The car would be developed for privateer racers, and that's all led up to this point. Team M-Sport, which you may know better for having run Ford's World Rally Championship team, was charged with developing the car, and it entered the new racecar this past weekend in the Gulf 12 Hours in Abu Dhabi. There, on the Yas Marina Circuit in the United Arab Emirates, the Continental GT3 diced it with GT3 versions of the likes of the Ferrari 458, Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG and McLaren 12C.

So how did it fare on its first time out? Well the race is split into two six-hour sessions, and the Conti finished third in the first heat (behind the AF Corse Ferrari and Black Falcon Benz) and fourth in the second (just edged out by another 458 entered by Kessel Racing). Not a bad outcome for Bentley's first race in a decade. And the Abu Dhabi race was essentially a dress rehearsal for next season when the Continental GT3 will be entered in the full 2014 Blancpain Endurance Series.

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First Drive: 2014 Bentley Flying Spur

05/22/2013   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, Bentley, Driving, Luxury

Redefining Super Luxury On A Shrinking Planet

2014 Bentley Flying Spur - front three-quarter view

Anyone on Earth with access to the Internet, a television or radio for the last 20 years knows that China is no longer the poor stronghold for strict Communist ideals that it was for much of the 20th Century. (Well, at least not in some places.) Traveling to China twice in less than a month - first to Shanghai for a very international auto show and now to Beijing to drive and review the 2014 Bentley Flying Spur - I've learned that there's no lack of personal wealth, at least in two of the world's largest cities.

And yet, even I think the scene before me is a little bit ridiculous. Here I am, slowly climbing up a hillside to reach a fortification at something called Zhuanduo Pass, where roughly a dozen pristine examples of Western decadence sit idling their hand-built 12-cylinder engines in the shadow of China's revered and awesome Great Wall. Not five kilometers south of here, I'd passed an old man in traditional all-black garb, literally carrying a bundle of sticks on his back from one side of a village to the other. Now as I look through the snug-fitting and silent side glass of my $200,000+ palace on wheels, I'm more apt to see fat German tourists crisping in the hot Chinese sun while blowing the equivalent of an average Chinese monthly paycheck on lunch and a few Great Wall souvenirs.

Of course, it's nothing like the average Chinese person that Bentley is targeting with this new Flying Spur. There is a rapidly ballooning class of rich and super rich in the People's Republic these days; China can now lay claim to around 100 billionaires (in US dollars), as well as some 60,000+ individuals worth more than $16 million and, famously, now more than 1 million millionaires. Considering that Bentley had a booming year in 2012 by selling 8,510 vehicles, the importance of what is quickly becoming the world's biggest luxury car market is easy to see.

And that's why, despite the cost of hauling me from Ann Arbor to Beijing and back, and despite the cognitive dissonance of driving a $200,000+ car through villages whose buildings are probably worth less in total, Bentley jumped through a whole lot of hoops to pull off what it says is the first-ever global vehicle launch in China. I've got to tell you, if this is what being a trailblazer feels like, I could get used to it.

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Video: Supercar parade entering highway is mesmerizing

05/09/2013   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Coupes, Sports/GTs, Euro, Videos, Aston Martin, Bentley, BMW, Lamborghini, Mercedes Benz, Nissan, Porsche, Ferrari, UK, Luxury

In what must have looked and sounded to motorists on the M6 like an invasion of The Swarm, a parade of 50 enthusiast gems leaving a charity event were caught shooting down the on-ramp and merging into traffic. There were plenty of Porsches joining the 959 and Ducktail above, Aston Martins going back to the badboy V8 of the last millennium, a Ferrari Testarossa, a TVR and numerous other Easter eggs.

There were not, however, plenty of turn signals, with someone counting just five among the fifty engaging in proper use of the blinker. One reason put forth for that is the same reason we're posting this video, which is from last Summer, below: "because supercar." Enjoy.

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Official: Bentley Continental, Mulsanne get Le Mans limited editions

05/09/2013   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Coupes, Sports/GTs, Bentley, Luxury

Bentley Continental Le Mans Special Edition

Bentley is celebrating the 90th anniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans with two special edition model. Both the Mulsanne and Continental lines can now be fitted with six new specification packages to mark the event, each named after a famous racer from the automaker's past. Each package one combines select exterior colors with with special interior combinations that pay homage to the gents who took the company's cars to victory in France.

John Duff, Dudley Benjafield, Woolf Barnato, Tim Birkin, Glen Kidston and Guy Smith all get their own namesake packages. You can see the full run down in the press release below. So far, there's no indication as to exactly how much each pack will cost, but we have a hard time imagining a dollar figure scaring off any potential buyers.

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First Drive: 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible

04/25/2013   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Convertibles, Sports/GTs, Bentley, Driving, Luxury

Loses its Head, Keeps its Bespoke Cool

2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible - front three-quarter view, top down

This is the 10th anniversary of the Bentley Continental GT, the 5,500-pound shim that pried open the market for bespoke luxury at $150K. We're into the second generation of the supercoupe that is still - and we think unfairly - derided as a grossly exaggerated Volkswagen, which to us is like saying the Hulk is just Bruce Banner in a tizzy. There are credible grounds for both statements, but in neither case do they accurately convey the chasm between the alpha and the omega.

Nevertheless, checking off the list of updated models brings us to the Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible, the moderately augmented version of the non-Speed GTC. Back to the notion of unfairness, it's probably just that to say the GT Speed Convertible is only "moderately" changed. It did, after all, take Bentley three years to engineer the changes that separate your 'basic' Bentley from the Speed variant, and although they might be imperceptible, they are numerous.

We were invited to drive the world's latest and fastest four-seater convertible for two days from Las Vegas to San Francisco. In a twist we never would have expected, it turned into a desperate hunt for thrills.

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