Bentley to Add More MPGs and an SUV in 2012 (video)

It could be argued that, since the dawn of the 21st Century, no car has screamed “new money” louder than Volkswagen’s Bentley Continental coupes (yeah, they’re built off the Volkswagen Phaeton platform – sorry to be the one to break it to you). That might not be a fair statement to make about a single car, but I think Bentley’s management knows the score, and sees a need to make some pretty massive changes to their product line if they intend to remain relevant in the coming decades.

Bentley has begun those changes by introducing the car you see above: the new-for-2013 (model year) Bentley Continental V8. This new model features a relatively high-strung, twin-turbo V8 engine in place of the “standard” Conti’s massive, loping 12-cylinder. Bentley flacks promise that the “new” V8 (which shares over 90% of its parts with the V8 found in Volkswagen’s Touareg SUV) will deliver just as much power as the W12, and still be good enough to move the Continental’s hefty mass from naught to 60 mph in under 5 seconds … all while giving back 40% more fuel efficiency.

That 40% is a huge gain, and the new Conti, though decadent, still serves to help VW meet the increasingly stringent CAFE and TUV standards in (what are still) the brand’s primary markets. Besides that, VW execs probably concluded (quite correctly, in my opinion) that most Bentley buyers have don’t care what’s under the hood, anyway, as long as their gussied-up Volkswagen still turns heads.

SO, moving past the jaded cynicism and (I’ll admit) general crankiness that I feel towards Bentley at the moment (they really should have stuck with high-horsepower Ethanol beasties, I think) the new Conti is a step forward from the Piech-era W12 and is – by all accounts – a solid performer. British magazine Autocar got a chance to test one of the new cars prior to its debut last week, and shared their take on the new Conti in the video, below.

It remains to be seen whether the world will embrace a cleaner, friendlier Volkswagen Bentley Continental that doesn’t pack more punch than the more decadent version – but get used to that VW/Audi-derived V8 … because that engine, along with the Touareg/Q7 chassis, will form the basis for Bentley’s upcoming SUV – which we’ve covered before on Gas 2 and which seems to have been all-but-confirmed by Bentley staff at this week’s Detroit Auto Show.

One Bentley built for MPG and another built to haul kids to soccer practice and ballet recitals, built by GERMANS on a “people’s car” platform!? Poor Walter O. must be spinning in his grave at about 9000 rpm by now, which gives me an idea for a new type of “gas free” electrical generator …

Source: Autocar.

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, out on two wheels, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.