Bentley Motors Limited will celebrate its centenary before the end of this decade.
So far in its near hundred-year life it has moved twice, been sold twice, been bought three times, won Le Mans six times and made large, luxurious and exclusive passenger cars as different as the 1971 Corniche convertible, the original 1985 Turbo R and the landmark Speed Six of 1928.
The firm’s history has been short on neither boldness nor incident, but the past two years have brought greater and more contentious change than the preceding 96 did.
To the disgust of some and the delight of others, Bentley now makes a high-sided sports utility vehicle: the £163,000, 2.4-tonne, 600bhp Bentayga W12.
And no doubt equally appalling to traditionalists, Bentley has just introduced a new engine for the car they already hate. The Bentayga Diesel becomes Crewe’s first ever diesel-engined production model.
The source of the diesel engine is as contentious as the fuel it quaffs: Audi’s factory in Gyor, Hungary. The 4.0-litre V8 multi-stage turbodiesel motor is materially the same as the one used by Audi’s SQ7.
So while owners of a Bentayga W12 can claim that the beating heart of their car is every bit as ‘Bentley’ as the walnut veneer on its fascia, buyers of this version won’t be able to follow suit.
The engine capitalises on the Bentayga’s 48V electrical architecture to even greater profit than the W12.
It uses twin sequential turbochargers and a smaller electrically driven compressor, the latter primarily to take driveability to new heights and banish any vestige of turbo lag. The electronic governance of the engine and the particulars of its installation are all Crewe’s own work.
Is it good enough to win over those at once sceptical that an engine such as this belongs in a Bentley and that the winged crest should adorn an SUV?