The two-seater concept was revealed at the Geneva motor show and is said to be experimental in its design and has been revealed to gauge exactly what customers want from a Bentley sports car, as well as to get feedback on possible styling influences for all future models.
“It is one vision for Bentley’s future,” said company chairman Wolfgang Dürheimer. “It has the potential to be the pinnacle luxury two-seat sports car.”
Dürheimer said the sports car, which is due in the next three years, would be positioned alongside the Continental GT, suggesting a starting price of about £120,000.
“This is not just a new sports car concept but the potential Bentley sports car — a bold vision for a brand with a bold future,” he said. “It offers thrilling, driver-orientated performance, complete with trademark modern Bentley luxury and effortlessness.”
Although the car has not been officially confirmed as going on sale, Bentley engineering chief Rolf Frech has admitted that all recent concepts from the company have made it to production. However, it will be subjected to "very professional" analysis in the US and China before a final decision is made on it being built.
"This is not a creation that has fallen from the sky. We have been thinking about it for a long time," said Frech. "We have really good experience and knowledge of how to judge buyers' reaction from researching the SUV. We will just do it again.
"How long will it take? Just the same as the SUV - three years to create; four years to get it on the market. But the launch date will also be affected by how well it fits the cycle plan."
The production car would most likely use the MSB flexible architecture of Bentley’s Volkswagen Group parent. The MSB architecture is designed for cars of all formats positioned above the Audi range in the VW Group, and has been described as being "the best you can get" by Frech. It will have a wheelbase that is approximately 100-120mm shorter than that of the Continental GT, and the car is said to be more driver focussed than the larger car.
Bentley has revealed that the concept is powered by a hybrid powertrain but hasn’t given any details. Production versions are likely to be powered by a reconfigured version of the 500bhp Audi-sourced twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 used in other Bentleys. However, higher-powered, different-engined versions would be likely to ensure that the car could match or eclipse the 200mph top speed of some of its saloon siblings.
The car has been packaged to accommodate both a standard V8 and a plug-in hybrid. "And if there is a really powerful V6, why not on such a car?" said Frech.
The battery weight means that a production version of a plug-in hybrid would weigh around 2000kg.
In Geneva, Bentley confirmed: “Performance goals, including top speed, are set to challenge competitors and define a new segment benchmark.”
Manufacturers are increasingly aware that new models that stretch their core offering need to be grounded in history to appeal to buyers who want cars to have an authenticity about them. Rolls-Royce, for instance, is highlighting its history in off-road adventures in the build-up to the launch of its 4x4.