Hot News: Bentley's Rapide Rival?

LOOK what is hatching out at Bentley! The Crewe-based firm is working on an entry-level four-door coupé along the lines of Aston Martin’s Rapide, Auto Express can reveal. And our exclusive images show how the swoopy four-seater is likely to look.

Speaking exclusively to us at the Paris Motor Show, Bentley boss Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen confirmed that the firm wants to introduce a “third-generation model”. And the all-new car is expected to sit below the Continental and Mulsanne.

It will be pitched at the Rapide, Maserati Quattroporte and Porsche Panamera, and will also offer customers a more upmarket alternative to the Mercedes CLS and forthcoming four-door BMW 6-Series. While the Rapide is priced at £140,000, the Bentley could cost from around £85,000.

However, it will not come at the expense of the Continental-based Flying Spur saloon – still an important, and popular, model for the brand. So to differentiate itself, the newcomer will feature a dramatically sloping roofline that flows into the hatch. Up front the baby Bentley’s ‘face’ will take cues from the latest Continental GT.

Although it will be smaller inside than the Flying Spur and Mulsanne, it will be by no means cramped, with plenty of leg and headroom for a pair of adults in two individual rear seats. Throughout the cabin, expect Bentley’s usual peerless quality with generous use of metal, soft-touch leather and wood veneers.

Underneath will be a chassis borrowed from Audi’s A7 Sportback – the same platform that will form the basis of the all-new A6 due next year. Its 20 per cent aluminium construction has kept weight to a minimum, so the Bentley should weigh about 1,700kg – significantly less than the 2,350kg Continental GT.

Power will come from a new, more efficient 4.0-litre turbo V8, co-developed with Audi. This will drive all four wheels through an eight-speed auto. The engine will appear in the Continental GT next year and is anticipated to produce around 450bhp. According to Ulrich Eichorn, Bentley’s head of engineering: “The V8 is our hedge against fuel price spikes, carbon dioxide-related legislation and supercar market uncertainty.”

Bentley’s current range begins at £135,760 for the Continental GT Coupé, rising to £220,000 for the Mulsanne, which makes the cars particularly susceptible to fluctuations in the economy. It’s hoped this new baby will sell in big numbers, maintaining the company’s stability through future rocky financial times. And a large player in that plan is the Chinese market – where Bentley opened eight dealers last month.

With coupé and convertible versions of the Mulsanne in the pipeline, plus GTC and Flying Spur variants due of the Continental line-up, this newcomer would take Bentley’s range to seven models. That’s an all-time high for the company and proof that the marque is feeling more confident than ever. For more details click here.

Thanks to: Auto Express


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