Bentley is looking at equipping its new V8-powered Continental GT variant with a dual-clutch transmission that sister-company Audi badges as S Tronic.
Bentley’s engineers are doing engineering studies on the feasibility of packaging the S Tronic into the Continental’s transmission tunnel.
The major challenge is re-engineering and productionising the GT’s underbody and running gear to accept the S Tronic, which is a different shape to the six-speed ZF the W12 GT will employ.
The dual-clutch transmission could benefit drivers by delivering a sportier driving experience, which Bentley believes will suit the new group of buyers expected to buy the V8 GT.
“The V8 will find a new audience for us. There are sports car enthusiasts out there, particularly in the US, who won’t buy a sports car unless it’s powered by a V8,” says Bentley’s new sales and marketing boss Alasdair Stewart.
The price of the V8 is likely to be just below the £135k W12, suggesting a figure north of £130k, although it has yet to be finalised.
On sale in early 2012, the V8 will help Bentley maintain sales of the new GT at the same level as the outgoing model, which peaked at around 5000 cars a year. With sales falling away in the recession, Bentley expects to make as many of the new car as the old one, thanks to the addition of the V8.
The company is also defining the next-gen four-door Flying Spur, which is scheduled for launch in late 2012/early 2013. The Chinese market, with its requirement for generous rear legroom, is likely to dictate a very similarly proportioned model to today’s. China alone takes up to 40 per cent of Spur production.