Bentley will unveil a super-performance, front-engined two-seater sports GT at the Geneva motor show in two weeks’ time, as a preview to a new model aimed squarely at stealing sales from Aston Martin and Ferrari.
The car, a concept, is likely to be powered by a specially configured version of the 500bhp Audi-sourced 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 introduced recently into Bentley’s other models, although higher-powered, differently engined versions would be likely if it went into production in order to ensure that the car could match the 200mph top speed of some of its saloon siblings.
Bentley is likely to say the car’s main purpose is to test the reaction of potential customers, but the new model was first mentioned as a production possibility by returning CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer in a press conference last summer. Autocar understands the car is likely be positioned beside the Continental GT, not below it.
He also revealed the possibility of a saloon between the Continental Flying Spur and Mulsanne, and there have been suggestions since of a more compact SUV than the forthcoming full-sized Bentayga, which is due to hit the market next year.
If built, the new two-seat coupé would extend the Crewe company’s product portfolio to five distinct models and push annual volume beyond 12,000 units, although production would probably be lower than the 3000 tipped for the Bentayga, which is already in demand from the biggest markets such as the US and China.
The GT, certain to be designed in Bentley’s Crewe studio, would probably use the Volkswagen Group’s MSB flexible architecture, designed for cars of all formats positioned above the Audi range. Its front mid-engined engineering layout would likely be informed by Bentley's recent experience with its successful GT3 racing cars.
Bentley is still in the throes of extending its Crewe production facilities for Bentayga, so if okayed for production the new GT would be unlikely to reach buyers before 2018. In today’s money it would be expected to start around £120,000-£140,000 and go upward from there, depending on bespoke equipment.
Bentley has a long history of launching concepts at the Geneva motor show. The concept that produced the Bentayga SUV was first seen there three years ago, as was the mid-engined Hunaudières prototype (which foreshadowed Bentley’s return to Le Mans) in 1999. A small Bentley convertible, the Java, also made its debut there in 1994 but did not reach production.