Bentley hatches its Rapide rival!

11 Oct, 2010 10:32am Jack Rix

We reveal look of new four-seater, targets Aston and Porsche Panamera

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.

Dramatic

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.

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Another cheap mass marketing exercise for Bentley for a car that again won't age well. Sometimes such a car would work for VW, Audi, Jag, Merc or BMW but in Bentley's case its best to leave it to its traditional roots, roots that actually make the firm standout from the crowd and make it sell. The Rapide is a crap car to be honest, thought i would come around to like it but rear space is useless and if they had spent more time on it rather than a market led exercise then i am sure it would have been a lot better and yes its a good looking car with a slightly awkward looking hunch back. Panamera is just ugly no other word for it.

And I don't mean that in a good way

I think is loks lush but agree with the A6 comment from the rear. How can you say a Bentley won't age well? People who buy these cars (or lease them) will get shot after 4-5 years anyway.

Maserati's Designers won't be having any sleepless nights! Much too bulky!

Its sad/happy times of 'mixing and matching' for car makers, desperate to stay afloat. What always intrigues me is which car maker has the ability to actually grow their market, as distinct from merely/pathetically stealing sales from another maker.
AND FOR GAWDS SAKE, who is the dork swanning round changing the english language???? AUTOEXPRESS, and all others......a coupe HAS 2 DOORS!!!! And as if BMW are not completely lost in 'going nowhere' niche alley, they are bringing out a 4 door 6 series. What in heavens name will they call that...

Personally I think a four seater should have four doors. If theres an accident and you're in the back, you will probably be very glad if it has. For me, big cars don't look right with two doors anyway, they are out of proportion and can be a challenge to open in a car park.
Smaller cars that claim to be 2+2 but you would struggle to fit a child car seat in are another case of styling over substance.
Two seater, two doors, four seater, four doors.

An old A6 with a Bentley nose stuck on it. Bentley, wave goodbye to the brand values it's taken you the best part of a century to construct. Another nouveau riche, more-money-than-taste wagon from VW's posh brand.

I find this hard to believe - a Bentley four door coupe at £85k?? is this without any interior? If such a claim is remotely true then Bentley would become a mass seller and would be moving into the Limo territory of the S-Class. These will become a common sight in central London. Perhaps a good business case?

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