2011 Bentley Mulsanne on 2040-cars
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Auto blogMon, 23 Sep 2013 17:15:00 EST
Bentley and Rolls-Royce may be as direct as competitors get, but that doesn't mean they go head-to-head on every model. Bentley is arguably more focused on its Continental line, with the pricier Mulsanne branching off of it. Rolls-Royce, meanwhile, only recently expanded (relatively) down-market with the Wraith and the Ghost on which it's based. For Rolls, it's long been about the Phantom and its coupe and convertible variants. And Bentley doesn't pose much of a challenge in that stratospheric segment.
Crewe discontinued the old Arnage-based Brooklands coupe and Azure convertible in 2009 and 2011, respectively, and hasn't rolled out a successor for either in the few years since. The high-end British automaker revealed a conceptual convertible based on the Mulsanne at Pebble Beach Concours last year and was said to be moving ahead with production plans, but the latest intel suggests that Bentley has taken it off the development table.
This according to Car and Driver, which spoke with Bentley's new chief exec Wolfgang Schreiber at the Frankfurt Motor Show. According to Schreiber, there just isn't enough demand worldwide to justify the development costs - even if it is based on the existing flagship sedan. Apparently Bentley has evaluated that beyond the US and Europe, they couldn't sell enough of them in other markets to make it worthwhile. We'd imagine some Middle-Eastern sheikhs might like to get their hands on a few, but apparently the higher priority is getting the Falcon sport-ute out the door.
Bentley keeps itself busy and on our minds with ever-faster versions of the Continental family and even, most recently, of the Mulsanne. While a new coupe is said to be around the corner, the biggest project Crewe has going on at the moment is its new SUV. And this is our clearest look at it yet.
Spied with less camouflage than ever before while undergoing testing near the Nürburgring, Bentley's as-yet unnamed sport-ute is being based on the same new platform that will underpins the next Volkswagen Touareg, Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne and - if finally approved - the production version of the Lamborghini Urus concept.
Bentley's is sure to be one of the higher-end models to be based on that platform, opening up a new segment soon to be populated as well by the upcoming Maserati Levante, Range Rover Sport SVR and other potential ultra-high-end SUVs and crossovers from the likes of Land Rover, Aston Martin Lagonda and Daimler's restrategized Maybach.
Meeting Bentley's 205-MPH Prince On The Autobahn
I'm travelling at the approximate speed of privilege. With the aluminum accelerator of the 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed buried to its neck in the high-pile carpet of the floorboard, the 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged W12 underhood is at full boast. The 616 furious British horses pumping under that long, proud prow set the German countryside to frappé with breathless ease, and with the sprawling sheetmetal of the coupe settled comfortably onto its haunches in eager anticipation of ever more thrust, it's clear this machine is content to consume endless kilometers of Autobahn in wide-mouthed gulps. There's an open lane of unrestricted tarmac unraveling before me, and I'm keen to oblige every thread of temptation singing in my chest. The speedometer has just clicked past 165 mph.
At this clip, the new crown jewel of the Bentley war chest is covering land at the rate of nearly one football field per second. The white lines on the road are beginning to fade into a solid stream, and I'm suddenly aware of the increasingly rapid heartbeat whispering the truth of my mortality in my ears. There's no looking anywhere other than as far to the horizon as possible, but even with my eyes set to long-range scan, it's clear that if something goes wrong at this velocity, they'll be burying an empty box in the hills of Tennessee. That little bit of trivia makes it all the more disconcerting when an ambling Volkswagen Jetta strays into my lane for no other reason than to take in the glorious sight of me manufacturing a stack of bricks in the quilted-leather driver's seat of someone else's $228,600 supercar.