Bentley goes all-in on plug-ins
Bentley this year became the first in a string of exotic and luxury brands to announce a significant shift to electrification, saying in January that each of its nameplates would have a plug-in hybrid variant. As part of the Volkswagen Group, Bentley will have the advantage of a broader corporate commitment to electrification.
Continental GT: The third generation of the vehicle that jump-started Bentley's modern resurgence debuted this month in Frankfurt and goes on sale in 2018 as a 2019 model. The large two-door coupe switches to a new VW Group architecture that underpins the Porsche Panamera; it picks up a new aluminum body and a new eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. Power still comes from a 6.0-liter turbocharged W-12 engine, which now makes 626 hp and 664 pounds-feet of torque. The inevitable convertible iteration will likely bow in 2018. After that will be the usual raft of V-8 and performance variants; this generation will also get a plug-in hybrid version that likely uses a 3.0-liter V-6 engine paired with the electric system.
Flying Spur: The four-door version of the Continental GT will get similar updates and switch to the same new platform when it debuts in 2019 as a 2020 model. It will continue to be W-12-powered, with a V-8 iteration expected later. Like all Bentley nameplates, it will get a plug-in hybrid version.
Mulsanne: Bentley's king-kahuna sedan comes in base, extended-wheelbase and Speed iterations, powered by a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V-8. A redesign is due in 2019 or 2020 and will get a plug-in hybrid; whether that incorporates the same V-6-based powertrain as lesser Bentleys or one that uses the 4.0-liter turbo V-8 of the Panamera E-Hybrid remains to be seen.
Bentayga: Bentley's first crossover will be the brand's first nameplate to get a plug-in hybrid powertrain, based on a 3.0-liter V-6; look for that to debut in 2018. A longer-wheelbase and a shorter fastback version are also planned; expect a Bentayga Speed model as well.
Fifth vehicle: Bentley has teased a fifth vehicle for years, but the shape of such a vehicle has yet to be finalized. It's likely to be all-electric, based on conversations with Bentley CEO Wolfgang Duerheimer and engineering chief Rolf Frech. There is talk of it being a crossover smaller than the Bentayga; a sporty coupe equal in price to the Continental GT but more performance-oriented; or a sporty, coupe-style four-door about the same size as the Continental. The vehicle would go on sale after Bentley has rolled out plug-in hybrid versions of its existing nameplates, so 2020 or 2021 at the earliest.
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