Bentley’s new engine stretches fuel and slashes price
The unit promises a 40 per cent cut in fuel consumption and emissions as well as a drop of around £13,000 in price over the existing 12-cylinder versions.
Smaller engines will broaden the market appeal of the Continental which has become Bentley’s most important and best-selling car since its launch in 2003.
The car will now pass more filling stations with its 90-litre tank giving a range of up to 500 miles, more than 100 miles further than the current W12 engine.
Who will these new buyers be? According to Bentley’s engineering chief Rolf Frech the car will appeal to a younger market.
“They’ll be more youthful, aggressive, extrovert and cool – W12 buyers will remain elegant, prestigious and subtle,” he tells Headline Auto.
Outwardly the new V8 coupe and convertible differ from the existing models with their black matrix grille, 21-inch wheels and figure of eight tailpipes.
The new Continental GT Coupe is priced at £123,835, down from £135,760 for the W12, while the GTC convertible costs £136,250, down from £149,350.
A whole range of options are available depending on the size of the buyer’s wallet – examples being £10,000 for ceramic brakes, or a liquid paint finish for £24,000.
The new engine is launched as Bentley rides the wave of strong sales. The company saw sales increase in all its major markets in 2011, up 37 per cent worldwide to 7,003 cars.
“This has been led by the Continental and we are forecasting a positive operating result,” Frech says.
“Our US sales rose 31 per cent as Americans have started to buy cars again and more than 1,000 cars was our biggest number there for three years.
“EU markets rose 53 per cent to 1,087 cars with Germany growing 88 per cent while the UK proved challenging although our sales still rose 5 per cent to 1,031.
He adds that the top performer was the Chinese market which rose 95 per cent to pass more than 1,000 vehicles for the first time, a figure reached by October and finishing the year on 1,839.
Words by: Andrew Charman