Bentley Will Add Diesels to Its Lineup; 6.8-liter V8 to Die
Bentley will not only offer hybrids in the future; it will also offer diesels. Outgoing Bentley and Bugatti CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer confirmed to us that diesel engines are not only an option for the upcoming SUV—a full-size off-roader based on the VW Group’s modular-longitudinal platform, and not the EXP 9 F concept that was received so poorly in Geneva—but for the next generation of sedans as well. Dürheimer says that prototype vehicles already are up and running.
While Dürheimer wouldn’t reveal any details, we believe that Bentley will make use of the next generation of Audi’s V-8 TDI, which will make more than 400 hp and be launched in the updated A8 next year. Fortunately for Bentley, Audi has decided not to abandon V-8–diesel power as BMW and Mercedes-Benz have done. The VW Group’s ubiquitous 3.0-liter V-6 TDI probably would be too much of a downward reach for the British luxury brand. Audi’s awesome V-12 TDI is not currently being considered for Bentley models. That engine, sold in very low numbers in the Q7 V-12 TDI, will not be brought up to future emissions standards and has just been taken off the market in Europe—which is a shame.
Diesel-powered versions of the SUV and the Continental range will be a great asset in Europe, where the brand has some catching up to do. The decision to go diesel has paid off for every premium automaker that has done so. This includes Porsche, where the diesel-powered Cayenne was brought to market under Dürheimer’s reign as R&D chief. Former Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking had steadfastly refused to allow series development of a diesel for many years, despite Porsche’s own concept for an in-house diesel engine in the early stages of development of the first Cayenne. The SUV finally came to market with an Audi V-6 TDI.
Dürheimer also confirmed to us that future Bentley models will be available with a plug-in hybrid option, as will the SUV. While the more-efficient powertrains are coming, the traditional 6¾-liter V-8 is meeting the end of the road for a second time. Launched in 1959, the L series engine was discarded in 1998 when Bentley was under BMW’s stewardship. Under the hood of the Arnage, a BMW-derived 4.4-liter V-8 appeared, but little over a year later, VW—Bentley’s new owner—reinstalled the traditional unit in the Arnage Red Label. Contrary to BMW’s claims, the L series engine managed to meet then-current emissions standards, and it vastly outsold the BMW engine, which continued to be offered as the Green Label.
- Instrumented Test: 2012 Bentley Continental GT W12
- Comparison Test: 2010 Bentley Continental Flying Spur Speed vs. 2011 Rolls-Royce Ghost
- First Drive: 2011 Rolls-Royce Ghost
This time around, the reason is a different one: Bentley is aiming to be the Volkswagen Group’s center of competence for 12-cylinder engines, and it is illogical to have the range-topper powered by a V-8, as venerable and torquey as it may be. “I believe the 6.75-liter V-8 can retire,” says Dürheimer. But not before the next generation of the Mulsanne is launched; until then, there’s still plenty of time to save up for the last of the 6¾-liter Mulsannes.
By Jens Meiners