The next Bentley Continental will be more evolution than revolution, senior company bosses have revealed to Autocar.
"Customers don’t want us to change it; they see it as Bentley’s Porsche 911," said Bentley boss Franz-Josef Pfaegen, hinting that the new car, expected in 2011, would be a refinement of the current Continental family, the best-selling car in the company’s history.
Pfaegen, speaking at the launch of the new Mulsanne, also admitted that the next-generation Conti would continue to draw on Volkswagen Group technologies.
"We want to build the best possible Bentley and all the important bits we can do in-house, but we will continue to use [VW Group] components," he said.
Bentley engineering boss Ulrich Eichhorn told Autocar that the company is looking to save weight for the next Continental.
"There will be a sensible weight reduction, but it won’t turn into an Elise," he said.
Eichhorn also pointed out that weight has been saved during the life of the current car, with the Speed version and the forthcoming Continental Supersports, due out later this year.
Power for the next-gen car is widely tipped to come from a modified version of the existing W12 engine. Eichhorn admitted that there was no legislative reason why the 12-cylinder petrol engine would have to be retired, adding that there was still scope to produce more power and torque from it, with lower CO2 and improved economy.
It's also likely to be mated to a traditional torque convertor automatic gearbox at launch, rather than a VW Group dual-clutch 'box.
"If there was a dual-clutch 'box available in the group then we would use it," he said, "but their biggest advantage is with smaller engines. With the torque in a Bentley the benefit is less, and auto gearbox technology is catching up fast."
Either way, the next Continental is certain to have the option of being powered by biofuel, as the company is committed to offering a flex-fuel option on all of its cars by 2012. This negates the need to offer a diesel Bentley in the future, according to Eichhorn.