All-new sports car and convertible under consideration as part of £800m development programme
29 July 2014

Bentley is planning to launch two more models after its forthcoming SUV, currently at a road-going prototype stage, hits showrooms in 2016. 

Returning chairman and CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer says the company is laying plans either for a two-seat sports car or a more conventional model priced between Continental and Mulsanne, possibly a convertible. 

"My own preference would be to build them both" he said, "provided a business case for each can be made." However, the company would concentrate first on whichever alternative looked more profitable.

Dürheimer left Bentley two and a half years ago to become Audi’s technical chief, but left abruptly after what he calls “differences of opinion”. He returned to Crewe two months ago, resume command of the promising SUV and GT3 racing programmes, both begun on his previous watch. 

Dürheimer gave few details of the post-SUV models under investigation, but admitted his affection for the 1995 Azure convertible, from which a Brooklands coupé could easily be spun.

The previous Azure was a rear-drive design spun off the Continental R, but a future version would more likely be related to the four-wheel drive Continental model line. Four-wheel drive and W12 engines will both be “core technologies” for Bentley’s future, he said.  

Broadly, the two-seater idea recalls the mid-engined, Lamborghini-based Hunaudiéres built as a concept for the 1999 Geneva Show. It would most likely be related to the Audi R8 under its skin, with an entirely different look and perhaps with the revised W12 in place of the present V10.  

Preliminary planning for the two post-SUV models is included in a new R&D spending round, the largest in Bentley’s 95-year history. The company plans to spend £800 million between now and 2016 on new model development, mostly in Crewe.

At a press conference In London to announce bullish half-year sales, Dürheimer said he expected 2014 to be "a fifth straight year of substantial growth" but stopped short of claiming a record. 

Sales had grown in every market, he said, with China scoring the greatest first-half growth of 61 per cent, though that rate of improvement was unlikely to be sustained for the full year. The US was Bentley's biggest market, with sales of 1388 cars.

Dürheimer foreshadowed a radical new move to "contemporise" its cars, providing modern alternatives to the traditionalist wood, leather and tasteful colours so often associated with its cars. “We want acid green to be in our palette, as well as British Racing Green,” he said.

A recently opened modern, glassy showroom at Crewe provided a guide to dealerships around the world to modernise their own customer centres, while ushering in the upgrades needed for the arrival of the SUV which could push volume beyond the 15,000 units a year already announced.

Get the latest car news, reviews and galleries from Autocar direct to your inbox every week. Enter your email address below:

Join the debate

Comments
19

24 July 2014
I am pretty sure that a Unimog can be specced up to cost well in excess ot £140,000. That is a huge, road legal off-roader. In act a vehicle so big it would make Range Rovers look like Fiestas. And the Unmog is genuinely the best off-road vehicle ever made.

30 July 2014
topsecret456987 wrote:
And the Unmog is genuinely the best off-road vehicle ever made.
Woah there horsey! Much as I love the Unimog, I think that's a rather over-ambitious claim. I would submit for consideration the Tatra 813, the Hagglunds Bv206 and a number of others...

7 August 2014
topsecret456987 wrote:
I am pretty sure that a Unimog can be specced up to cost well in excess ot £140,000. That is a huge, road legal off-roader. In act a vehicle so big it would make Range Rovers look like Fiestas. And the Unmog is genuinely the best off-road vehicle ever made.
there'd be a unimog in my twenty car(!) dream garage. and the brabus version is a feisty looking beast.

24 July 2014
No mention of the walk-out and 'peaceful protest' by the shop floor workers yesterday on Pyms Lane, then...? How can that possibly happen, Steve?

24 July 2014
"and we will solve the problem that people cannot at present spend more than about £140,000 on an off-roader." - Certainly not a problem to me...

24 July 2014
What kind of gloated, self obsessed and greedy world do we live in.

24 July 2014
I guess this means whatever redesign it went under the SUV still will not be a looker so Bentley has to market this for people with way more money than sense? Certainly with customizers around the globe a person can spend as much as they would like to personalize their vehicle it is just that Bentley wants to get as much of that money for themselves. Remember a time when the mere mention of money regarding a Bentley was not the done thing. If you had to ask you could not afford it and that was all. Now we have VW turning the Flying B into a high-priced call girl and reaching the nadir of a once-respected marque.

24 July 2014
if it were not for VW there would NOT be a Bentley now, and like ALL bisinesses they have to change with the times, and by offering an SUV, this will be a huge money spinner for the company, after all, making money is, and has always been the reason for building cars.

30 July 2014
jonboy4969, actually the reason VW, BMW and all were bidding was that it was a highly profitable, lean and fast-to-market car company that had just launched the Arnage/Seraph, following closely on the from Continental, the Azure and the Continental R, not to mention the Turbo S, Continental S and the super exclusive Rolls-Royce Flying Spur. In fact, it was making enough money to bankroll Vickers which had two factories, one product and no orders... not a lot of call for Challenger Main Battle Tanks back then in the post-Strategic Defence Review world. So, please don't suggest there would NOT be a Bentley now. It might have been a different Bentley, maybe a smaller Bentley, maybe a more exclusive Bentley. Oh, and by the way, it offered an SUV back in 1995. It offered it to a Sultan and he bought six. Remember: those that win the wars write the history books and VW-twaddle would have it no other way than they 'rescued' a near death Bentley.

30 July 2014
Jonboy makes a point but really there hasn't been a Benltey since 1931. After that Bentleys were Rolls Royces, though you could make a case for the last Bentleys being Lagondas. Now it's just a brand used on the most expensive VWs.

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week