Bentley to build SUV, diesels and 'RS' lightweights!

Bentley's CEO Wolfgang Durheimer has told evo the company is developing a diesel engine, an SUV, lightweight peformance variants - and returning to racing

Bentley’s new boss has confirmed that work is progressing on a range of major innovations for the brand, set to include the arrival of diesel and hybrid powertrains, development of a new SUV model, a return to racing - and a dramatically lightened version of the Continental Supersports.

Bentley CEO Wolfgang Durheimer, the former Porsche R&D boss who took control of both it and Bugatti six months ago, told a group of journalists of his determination to transform the company’s fortunes with a dramatic increase in both its model range and its sales volumes. Bentley has yet to return to the 10,000-a-year production it managed before the global recession, but Durheimer said he believes the company could ‘maintain its exclusivity’ while selling up to 30,000 cars a year. 

Bentley’s first SUV will be a vital part of this expansion. This will be developed around shared architecture from elsewhere in the Volkswagen empire – for which read the next Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q7 – but with what Durheimer described as Bentley’s ‘uniquely British design and craftsmanship.’ He confirmed that the proposed new model will be more expensive than the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, meaning it will likely be the world’s priciest SUV. He also said that, like the original Cayenne, Bentley’s SUV will be engineered to provide proper off-road performance to the few buyers who want it, with this being a vital part of creating an ‘authentic’ product. The decision on whether to start serious development of the car now rests with the VW board, although Durheimer himself is clearly fully behind the project: ‘I think a Bentley SUV would have a tremendous pond to fish in.’ 

We also learned that Bentley is working on both hybrid and diesel powertrains, both of which are likely to be offered on the existing model range within the next couple of years, in addition to the new V8 petrol engine that will be fitted to the Continental next year. 

Durheimer admitted that he had been among the group of senior managers within Porsche that was sceptical of performance diesels, but said the rate of development of technical development – and the fact diesels can now ‘sound and feel’ like petrol models – had won him over. But while Porsche is using a development of Audi’s V6 diesel in the Cayenne and Panamera, Durheimer indicated that Bentley’s motor will be a development of the larger 4.2-litre V8 TDI motor.

Durheimer’s experience at Porsche will also lead to the development of several new performance variants of existing models: ‘I think the Continental has the same potential to have derivatives as the Porsche 911.’ To that end, he’s already signed off on the development of a dramatically lightened prototype version of the Continental Supersports coupe which will shed nearly 500kg through the use of advanced composites. If it’s reckoned to be successful enough for production it will lead to the development of an ‘RS’ version of the Supersports.

And, as if that wasn’t enough, Durheimer also confirmed plans to take Bentley back into top flight racing, although he indicated this wouldn’t be a return to Le Mans for as long as Audi and Porsche are competing there. All in all, it looks set to be a busy few years in Crewe.

Recommended

Bentley Continental GT review
Bentley Continental GT review – front quarter
Bentley Continental GT coupe

Bentley Continental GT review

The Bentley Continental GT is not just an excellent cruiser, but now one with real ability, poise and even some engagement
10 Mar 2021

Most Popular

New Audi RS3 technical details revealed – torque-vectoring differential confirmed
Audi RS3 mule 2020 SB – rear
Audi RS3

New Audi RS3 technical details revealed – torque-vectoring differential confirmed

Hyperhatch war resumes, with a new focus on handling, and not just power
21 Jun 2021
Triumph Lynx – Dead on arrival
Triumph Lynx
Features

Triumph Lynx – Dead on arrival

With a 3.5-litre Rover V8 under the bonnet and TR7 fastback styling, the Lynx could have been British Leyland’s answer to the Ford Capri
18 Jun 2021
It’s time for some home truths about the Toyota GR Yaris, reckons Porter
Richard Porter opinion
Toyota GR Yaris

It’s time for some home truths about the Toyota GR Yaris, reckons Porter

‘It looks stretched and contorted, like someone who’s had too much cheap plastic surgery’
22 Jun 2021
BMW M3 Competition 2021 review – still the benchmark performance saloon?
BMW M3 Competition
BMW M3 saloon

BMW M3 Competition 2021 review – still the benchmark performance saloon?

It’s bigger and heavier than before, and is now auto-only. So can it copy the new M4’s trick of still being fun to drive? You bet it can
19 Jun 2021
The reluctant LaFerrari driver – evo archive
evo archive – LaFerrari truck extraction – stop!
Ferrari

The reluctant LaFerrari driver – evo archive

How do you get a £1million hypercar out of the back of a delivery truck? Very, very, slowly…
15 Jun 2021
New 992 Porsche 911 GT3 Touring revealed – now available in manual and PDK
Porsche 911 GT3 Touring – rear profile
Porsche 911 GT3

New 992 Porsche 911 GT3 Touring revealed – now available in manual and PDK

The Touring pack has returned, combining the 992 GT3’s set-up with more understated looks
15 Jun 2021
Used car deals of the week
Used car deals
used cars

Used car deals of the week

Here's what caught evo’s fancy this week on the second hand car market
17 Jun 2021
MAT Stratos 2021 review – Lancia’s iconic Stratos reborn
MAT Stratos – front tracking
Lancia

MAT Stratos 2021 review – Lancia’s iconic Stratos reborn

It’s been a long time coming, but this Ferrari F430-based reimagining of the Lancia Stratos is finally here
11 Jun 2021
BMW M5 CS 2021 review – a class act that reaffirms the M division’s brilliance
BMW M5 CS – front cornering
BMW M5 saloon

BMW M5 CS 2021 review – a class act that reaffirms the M division’s brilliance

Nonsensical on paper, but sublime in practice. Never has a modern supersaloon been more tactile or more engaging
14 Jun 2021
Project Horizon - CEO Tobias Moers maps Aston Martin’s future
Tobias Moers
Aston Martin

Project Horizon - CEO Tobias Moers maps Aston Martin’s future

A wider portfolio, V8 mid-engined supercars and every new Aston beyond 2025 to be electric. CEO Tobias Moers reveals his plans for Aston Martin
22 Jun 2021
Next generation BMW 7-series spied – flagship saloon to once again set the tone for future models
Next generation BMW 7-series spied – front quarter
BMW 7 Series

Next generation BMW 7-series spied – flagship saloon to once again set the tone for future models

All-new saloon to feature IC and EV powertrains, but once again it’ll also lead the way aesthetically
16 Jun 2021
Ford Mustang Steve McQueen Bullitt Edition 2021 review – a 720bhp tribute act
Ford Mustang Steve McQueen Bullitt Edition – slide
Ford Mustang

Ford Mustang Steve McQueen Bullitt Edition 2021 review – a 720bhp tribute act

Immense performance from about the coolest modern muscle car out there. It’s expensive, but there’s nothing else quite like it
12 Jun 2021
Aston Martin sues Swiss car dealer over Valkyrie deposits
Aston Martin Valkyrie
Aston Martin Valkyrie coupe

Aston Martin sues Swiss car dealer over Valkyrie deposits

Aston is suing Nebula Project over Valkyrie deposits worth £15m that were allegedly taken from customers but not passed on to the parent company.
22 Jun 2021
Ferrari F8 Tributo replacement to be revealed June 24
Ferrari F171 spy 2021 – header
Ferrari

Ferrari F8 Tributo replacement to be revealed June 24

Ferrari’s going hybrid and V6 for its next mid-engined supercar
16 Jun 2021