Currently reading: Porsche tests next-generation Bentley platform
First pictures of Porsche's role in developing the new rear-wheel-drive MSB platform

These Porsche Panamera test mules are the first evidence of the firm's engineering work on VW Group’s new rear-wheel-drive MSB platform.

The MSB platform is destined to underpin the next generation of Bentley models (including the new Continental GT and Flying Spur) and future Panamera family models, including a Panamera coupé and cabriolet.

The MSB is based heavily on today’s Panamera platform, which is unique to Porsche's big five-door hatch. It’s understood that the MSB re-engineering will see more in the way of mixed materials – aluminium as well as high-strength steel – in its construction. 

It’s also thought it will adopt the same electrical architecture that’s being developed for Audi’s MLB-Evo platform, helping reduce costs and allowing, for example, the same infotainment system to be used across all VW‘s premium models.

MSB is also more flexible in sizing than today’s Panamera, as the narrower track on one of these prototypes shows. MSB is also designed to be shortened, allowing it to underpin the next Continental GT. The Panamera’s huge centre tunnel will stay: it will help ensure the drop-top MSB models are as stiff as possible.

The transmission layout – which is natively rear-wheel drive, with the engine mounted well back in the nose, behind the front wheels – will make a big difference to the driving dynamics of future Bentley models.

The MSB offers near-ideal weight distribution, unlike the nose-heavy stance of today’s Continental models, whose engines are mounted ahead of the front axle. Like today’s Panamera, MSB will offer rear-drive, all-wheel drive and hybrid propulsion.

The first MSB model is expected to be the Bentley Continental replacement due in 2016. It's expected that the second-generation Mulsanne will be based on the long-wheelbase version of the MSB platform.

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Norma Smellons 1 November 2013

not quite

@Symanski Platform sharing, in such an obvious way, is utterly inimical to high end brands. This is because these brands trade absolutely on character. What you have described is precisely why VW has irrevocably tarnished Bentley. Unless, of course, you think that forcing Bentley to use a giant Passat was a wonderful idea. Had Bentley been acquired by, say, Mercedes (or even the likes of Ford) then Bentleys would probably still have the proper rear-drive stance which is the very essence of a Bentley's character.
Symanski 1 November 2013

Development costs.

One of the reasons for VAG's success is that they share the development costs across all of their brands. That when you're buying an Audi, scratch the surface and it's a Skoda. With Bentley they're no different. To keep the costs of their smaller cars down they've got to share with the larger offerings from VAG. It's not just a case of if Bentley is a Bentley with a shared chassis but rather if they'd be a Bentley at all if they hadn't shared costs with VAG. It's worth remembering that all of these historical brands failed when they tried to do everything themselves. Nor were they able to keep up with modern technologies as they simply couldn't afford to develop their own versions. Even just developing an airbag would have sunk a few of these companies; yet we take it as granted all cars will come with such an effective safety device. Platform sharing either across models or brands is a hugely important part of cost reduction, which in turn leads to better developed cars and better profitability of the brand. No profit, and they'd be no Bentley.
Norma Smellons 1 November 2013

leave bentley alone

Is this vehicle the finished article? As it is only fractionally ghastlier than the current Continental, which is the bastard son of a giant Passat and Liberace's car. The Germans getting hold of Bentley was the worst thing ever to happen to it.