Next-generation Bentley will get a plug-in hybrid version

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 16, 2012

Bentley chief Wolfgang Dürheimer has announced that its plug-in hybrid won’t arrive before the next generation of Bentleys becomes available. In addition, the luxury brand won’t be leading its development. Instead, it will make use of technology that’s shared with the other brands in the Volkswagen Group.

Dürheimer said Bentley is turning its attention to this hybrid system, which isn’t something that it should deal with on its own as a “matter of differentiation.” He said that differentiation is “styling, appearance, prestige, craftsmanship, luxury.”

He explained that what the company requires is to have hybrid tech but he pointed out that it’s totally appropriate that brands like Audi and Porsche would take the development lead. However, this strategy isn’t being undertaken just because of the lack of differentiation. Those larger brands benefit from having greater experience and engineers that will develop the tech, says Caranddriver.

Also, the development costs can be absorbed into their larger budgets. This is the same thing as when VW provided the funding for the architecture for Bentley’s current Continental line through its Phaeton program. However, it’s likely that more VW Group brands will make use of the result in this specific case.

Dürheimer said that Audi’s new twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8, which is used in the new, entry-level Continental GT, would be the most possible gasoline-powered part of the hybrid system, which will sandwich a motor-generator between the engine and transmission. This is relatively short for its cylinder count as well as the electric motor accommodated behind it too. He added that he believes that a 16-19 mile has an electric-only range of 16 to 19 miles to be acceptable for a Bentley.

Bentley revealed that the brand will be fitting models with the new twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine. Specifically it will be made available for the Continental GT and the Continental GTC. While these two models have that strong and powerful character, they are differentiated by a number of features like the Bentley 'B' badge in red enamel and the matrix grille in gloss black having a center bar and chrome frame.

Then there is the three-segment black matrix of the lower front bumper which is separated by the unique body-colored strakes. By being equipped with the new engine, this guarantees that the Continental GT and the Continental GTC are able to deliver power-to-emission levels that are considered exceptional, especially in the high luxury sports car segment.

With this new engine, Bentley shared that it would be able to meet its commitment of creating a powertrain that could offer fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions that are 40% better. This means that indeed the V8 Continental models are able to get excellent fuel efficiency as well as CO2 emissions unseen before in the luxury performance sector.

The new engines can even allow the V8 Continental models to go at least 800 km (500 miles) on just one full tank. Bentley however said that the official and full features will come out by the early part of 2012. In terms of output, maximum power delivered by the V8 engine is 373 kW (500 bhp/ 507 PS) coming in at 6,000 rpm. Top torque meanwhile is at 660 Nm (487 lb.-ft.) and available on a wide range of revolution starting from 1,700 rpm and all the way up to 5,000 rpm.

These figures mean that the new Continental models can deliver an exciting performance with graceful delivery of power, as what can be expected from a Bentley. When paired with the automatic 8-speed transmission having a close-ratio, it can reach maximum speeds of more than 290 km/h (180 mph).

Acceleration from 0 km/h to 100 km/h (0 mph to 60 mph) is possible in barely 5 seconds. However what sets the new engine apart from the others is not only in the figures mentioned but in the sound that is immediately recognizable. Since the V8 comes with a variable displacement and has an advanced engine management system, the shift to V4 from V8 mode when under a light throttle load is smooth and even imperceptible.

The V8 engine also features thermal management, low friction bearings, and high pressure direct injection. The other features include the advanced turbo charging packaging which ensures better efficiency and there is even a charging system which helps with energy recuperation.

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