Bentley plans third model range to reduce susceptibility to demand swings

Article by Christian A., on March 4, 2011

As Bentley expands its range, it is moving away from a cheaper, entry-level model and is more likely to add a vehicle priced near its current range of £140,000 to £230,000, according to a report from Autocar. Bentley is making the change because it thinks that this better fits its brand positioning.

But then, Bentley has yet to determine what the model’s form will be. It can be recalled that former boss Franz-Josef Paefgen had planned to add a third model to make the two-model range (Continental family and Mulsanne) less susceptible to demand swings in the product cycles.

Now, it is totally up to new boss Wolfgang Durheimer, formerly of Porsche, to see this project through says Autocar. Durheimer has undertaken crucial product planning decisions at Zuffenhausen when the Cayenne was included in Porsche’s then two-model range of 911 and Boxster.

Notably, the Cayenne attracted new customers to Porsche and is not as vulnerable to fashion-related sales swings than sportscars and coupes. Because of this, it holds sales more level and makes Porsche more resistant to downturns in the market.

Bentley has yet to officially announce what SUV has been chosen for the range expansion but it’s expected that one of the options is a vehicle that’s more practical and with a loftier driving position.

Bentley has revealed its latest offering -- the Continental Supersports Convertible. With this model, the brand further strengthens its already strong supercar range, especially after the release back in 2009 of the Bentley Continental Supersports Coupé.

Powering the Supersports Convertible is the same twin-turbocharged W12 engine that delivers output of 630PS (621bhp/463kW). This means that the Supersports Convertible is truly the most powerful drop-top, and also the fastest that the brand has made.

Overall, it offers the ultimate driving experience inside what can be called as the most dramatic convertible in the world. The Supersports Convertible was named after the 1925 Bentley Supersports. This was the race version of the brand’s iconic 3-liter model. At the time of its introduction, it was able to go 85 bhp when most ordinary cars could only go 15 bhp.

In addition, it was also the first production car to attain speeds of 100 mph, a truly extreme performance for its time. The muscular new Supersports Convertible is a four-seater and is clearly a Bentley as seen from the craftsmanship and design. Its interior though shows that it is a re-interpretation of the brand’s luxury.

With the Alcantara and 'Soft Grip' leather as well as the satin-finish carbon fiber, this gives the interior a rather distinct atmosphere that shows a modern and sporting style. The new Continental Supersports Convertible, and actually all models under the Continental product line, can run on gasoline, E85 bioethanol, or a combination of both.

This shows that the brand is indeed committed to ensuring that all of its offerings are bio-fuel compatible when 2012 comes. First introduced in the Supersports Coupe, the FlexFuel technology helps reduce CO2 emissions by a maximum of 70% on a 'well-to-wheel' basis. This is a measure that does not limit itself to tailpipe emissions but actually includes the net contribution of the fuel to the atmosphere.

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