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New Bentley EV four-door coupe to lead brand’s electric charge

Bentley’s striking electrified flagship will use elements from Porsche’s Mission E, and our exclusive image preview how it could look

Bentley is planning an all-electric flagship as the classic British brand aims to reposition itself as a marque with strengths in both luxury and technology, Auto Express can reveal.

The Crewe-based manufacturer has already announced its entire range will be available with an electrified powertrain by 2025. But Auto Express has learned work is under way on a pure EV that will harness some of the developments in the forthcoming Porsche Mission E and help Bentley to offer green credentials alongside its traditional craftsmanship.

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With the firm’s boardroom fresh from a complete shake-up, and Brit Adrian Hallmark named as the company’s new CEO, Bentley has plenty of options on the table as it gears up to go electric.

But the brand’s design director Stefan Sielaff told Auto Express what could be the “most realistic” option. “A full electric Bentley is something I am extremely convinced we have to do,” he explained.

“The next step for sure is an electric, unique Bentley that isn’t based on an existing car but a completely fresh and new development, with electric propulsion and obviously different proportions following the function.

“It gives us a great chance to establish a completely new design language for the company.”

Bentley has already given us a taster of its all-electric future in the form of the EXP 12 Speed 6e Concept, seen at 2017’s Geneva show. That two-seat electric sports car concept was spun neatly off into the more conventional, hard-top EXP 12 Speed 6 coupe show car; but it’s unlikely to form the basis of the brand’s electric flagship, according to Sielaff.

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“It should be a four or five-seater and it should also have the possibility to carry a little bit of luggage, maybe not for five people,” he added.

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“I think we need to make sure that this family member is obviously new, and not imitating another concept we have already in the portfolio. But definitely more than two seats; that’s something I am convinced of.”

With a two-seater in effect ruled out, Bentley’s EV project is at a potential crossroads: all-electric SUV or something lower and more in tune with the brand’s heritage. Sielaff believes it should be the second of those options.

“We are still in the phase of trying to define what it could be,” he said. “But nevertheless I think it should be a vehicle that contains a certain coupe-style or sportivity, and also a certain elegance. I don’t think it should be something that is raised high, like an SUV.”

This points to Bentley’s future EV being a four-door coupe, satisfying both the design head’s desire for something low, coupe-shaped and seating at least four people, while not being based around a previous concept or a current Bentley model. Our exclusive images preview how it could look.

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As with Porsche’s Mission E, Sielaff thinks that Bentley’s four-seat coupe EV should strike a balance between unmistakable Bentley design cues and a shape made possible by the lack of an internal combustion engine. A short dash-to-axle ratio is desired, as is a slightly lower nose that retains a grille.

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“I think we have to definitely adapt the proportions to the technical demands, and make a new statement,” Sielaff said, explaining that the EV, with its less traditional Bentley bodystyle, will be aimed at new and younger buyers more than traditional customers.

“But nevertheless this is then the fine art of doing all this. It has to be at first glimpse a Bentley,” he added.

Sielaff declined to name a date for the car’s arrival, but he stated: “It will happen not so far in the future.”

With the PPE project between Audi and Porsche aimed at developing an electric platform for higher-riding cars, the J1 architecture used by the Porsche Mission E is the most likely candidate to underpin the electric Bentley.

Previous Bentley CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer told Auto Express last year that the J1 platform was the firm’s best bet, unlocking a range of up to 310 miles and a power figure approaching 600bhp. He also suggested that wireless charging is something Bentley will be focusing on with its upcoming EVs, because dirty, wet charging cables aren’t considered to be in keeping with the brand’s luxury values.

Read more about Bentley's first electrified vehicle, the Bentayga PHEV, right here...

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