Does the world need a 200mph SUV? Probably not, but you could argue Land
Rovers are equally over-engineered. Instead just stand back and hail Bentley’s behemoth
200MPH: THE HALLOWED top-speed glass ceiling, for so long broken only by exotic supercars. But next year, Bentley will unveil a 200mph car with a difference: it’s an SUV.
Sources say Crewe is striving to engineer the first 200mph off-roader; Porsche’s facelifted Cayenne Turbo tops out at ‘just’ 173mph. Imagine the engine power, airflow management, component cooling and tyre durability required to take this two-tonne beast past the double-ton.
When the Continental GT launched back in 2004, CAR’s intrepid Georg Kacher piloted it to 206mph. He learned that axle load doubled during 155mph cornering, tyre temperature touched 70degC, and to generate every incremental km/h over 210mph (336km/h) you need an extra 8bhp, then 10bhp, then 13bhp. Staggering.
Therefore, the next Crewe’s missile will require some serious power. Today’s 567bhp 6.0-litre W12 has a starring role: we’re not sure of the exact output, but cylinder deactivation, a 48V electrical system powering hungry ancillaries and a coasting mode will deliver a double- digit fuel economy improvement.
Another mighty powertrain is planned, an all-new 5.0-litre V10 diesel, with 544bhp and a whopping 737lb ft of torque (enough to lift-off a jumbo?), linked to a ten-speed ’box of cogs. The V10 TDI is a pet project of VW supervisory board chairman Ferdinand Piëch, which shortens the odds of the first ever diesel Bentley.
Wolfgang Dürheimer is making positive noises too. ‘Diesel and Bentley are not incompatible,’ says the CEO. ‘Demand for diesel engines is particularly strong in central and eastern Europe, so we’re investigating various applications. The SUV is one of them.’ Other powerplants should include a 408bhp turbodiesel V8, and a twin-turbo V8 available as a pure petrol or 500bhp plug-in hybrid. Coming in
2017, the hybrid should offer a 30-mile EV range.
The SUV uses the stretched version of the group’s PL73 platform, which will underpin next year’s Audi Q7, the new VW Touareg and the third-gen Cayenne. The Bentley’s body-in-white is made in Bratislava, but painstaking final assembly takes place in Crewe. VW is investing £800m in Bentley’s HQ over the next three years, creating some 140 jobs, and the SUV will swallow the lion’s share of this cash.
The SUV ‘redefines the way Bentley treats its interiors,’ says Wolfgang Dürheimer, also claiming: ‘It sets new standards in terms of packaging, driving position, throttle response and ride comfort.’And what about the design, which previewed as a 2012 concept car, provoking a similar response to an Arsenal fan in the Spurs end?