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Porsche Pushes Into Bentley Territory with Panamera Exclusive Series

Limited-edition sedan lands above “base” Continental GT.

by on Oct.31, 2014

The Porsche Panamera Exclusive Series is creating a little sibling rivalry with the Bentley Continental GT.

When it comes to the upper reaches of the luxury car market, it’s getting hard to tell the players without a scorecard. And that means some sibling brands are suddenly turning into rivals.

The latest example comes with the unveiling of the new Porsche Panamera Exclusive Series. While it’s not the most expensive model the German maker has ever offered – at barely a third the price of the 918 Spyder ultracar – the limited-edition sedan lands well above the “base” Bentley Continental GT and not much below the British maker’s top-line Mulsanne model.

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Then again, Bentley is getting ready to roll out an all-new luxury SUV, which could start siphoning sales away from Porsche, its Volkswagen Group partner. (more…)

Bentley Working Up Mulsanne Drop-Top

Could reach production about same time as Bentley SUV.

by on Aug.20, 2012

Convertibles are "intrinsic" to the brand, says Bentley, as it releases a sketch of its Mulsanne Vision Concept.

Bentley is weighing its options to add a drop-top version of its flagship Mulsanne sedan, testing the waters with a concept that could translate into production by mid-decade.

Like its most direct rival, Rolls-Royce, Bentley has traditionally offered a convertible version of its biggest, most expensive model.  But with the loss of the old Azure two years ago there’s been no ragtop option for the big Mulsanne.

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That could change, depending on reaction to the Bentley Mulsanne Vision Concept quietly unveiled at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance over the weekend.  The full-sized model was kept under strict guard – those invited in for a look even had to surrender their cellphones to ensure no pictures leaked out, though Bentley has now provided a rough, early sketch.

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Bentley Celebrates a Royal Milestone – in China

Diamond Jubilee Mulsanne, new Continental GT V8 debut at Beijing Motor Show.

by on Apr.23, 2012

We imagine her Royal Highness would approve of the Bentley Diamond Jubilee Mulsanne.

While Queen Elizabeth, to the best of our knowledge, is firmly ensconced in Buckingham Palace, Bentley is celebrating her 60th year on the throne with a big party in China, introducing a special Diamond Jubilee Edition Mulsanne at the Beijing Motor Show.

The maker is also using the biennial gathering to pull the wraps off the new Continental GT V8, the latest model to offer customers a more fuel-efficient alternative to the classic Bentley 12-banger.

Designed by the British maker’s in-house custom operation, Mulliner, a total of 60 Diamond Jubilee Mulsannes will be sold worldwide – each designed to signify a specific year in her reign.

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Each features details which “include bespoke embroidery to all four headrests using gold stitching, veneered picnic tables in the rear cabin decorated with a gold overlay depicting a royal carriage used for great occasions of state as well as luxurious, hide cushions featuring the same motif,” says Bentley, adding that, “Two beautiful, highly-polished stainless steel treadplate plaques featuring the famous ‘Bentley Mulliner, England’ script and ‘Diamond Jubilee Edition’ have also been commissioned for these Mulsanne models.”

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Bentley Plans to Launch Rolling Office

Craftsmanship meets connectivity.

by on Sep.30, 2011

Bentley's Executive Interior Concept allows an owner to work or play in an Apple-based high-tech cocoon.

Ignore the sound of the big W-12 engine and the occasional bump from a pothole and you might forget you’re not in your high-tech office.  But that’s the precisely the goal of the Bentley Mulsanne Connectivity Test Car.

A modified version of the British maker’s high-line flagship, the prototype is equipped with a wide array of the electronic gadgetry found at home, in the office and, appropriately, on the road.  And response has been positive enough that a production version will be launched “next year,” according to Bentley CEO Wolfgang Durheimer.

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“This is where craftsmanship meets connectivity,” said the former Porsche R&D chief, who became the new Bentley CEO earlier this year.

Bentley has long been known for the extensive craftsmanship that goes into its products – about a third of the more than 90 hours of direct labor in each Mulsanne is spent preparing the big sedan’s lavish wood and leather interior.  But Durheimer contends that the new generation of buyers looking at Bentley products put equal stock in high technology.

The new Bentley Mulsaane.

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Bentley Planning Ultra-Luxury SUV

Third model line could also get a new hybrid or diesel.

by on Aug.22, 2011

Dr. Franz-Josef Paefgen (right) hands over the keys to his successor as Bentley CEO Wolfgang Durheimer.

Bentley, the classic British luxury carmaker, wants to add a sport-utility vehicle to its line-up, a move it predicts could yield a 50% increase in demand over its all-time sales record, the maker’s chief executive told TheDetroitBureau.com.

The new model could come as a surprise to those who expect to see Bentley stick with classic luxury designers, like the big Mulsanne and smaller Continental lines, “But I think people will adapt to the shock,” as they have when other brands like Porsche have introduced SUVs to their line-up, said Bentley CEO Wolfgang Durheimer, during a pair of exclusive interviews at the annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance over the weekend.

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Durheimer should know.  In his previous incarnation as the top engineer at Porsche he led the development of the Cayenne, that sport-ute now the top-seller in the German maker’s line-up.  When initially told of the project, said Durheimer, Porsche dealers, “warned us it’s dangerous, but five years later we doubled the size of the company.”

Targets for the Bentley SUV aren’t quite as aggressive, but the maker still hopes to boost global sales to 15,000 a year with the new ute, compared with the previous all-time high of about 10,000.

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Bentley Considering All-New Model Line

Third model may be critical to long-term success, says outgoing CEO Paefgen.

by on Jan.17, 2011

Dr. Franz-Josef Paefgen (right) hands over the keys to his successor as Bentley CEO Wolfgang Durheimer.

Bentley management will  face a critical decision in the coming months: whether to develop an all-new third product line to compliment the ultra-luxury maker’s mid-range Continental and top-line Mulsanne offerings.

The decision will be handed to a management team led by new CEO Wolfgang Durheimer, who takes over from Franz-Josef Paefgen, the executive who led the British marque through some of the most dramatic changes it has faced in nearly a century of carmaking.  Paefgen steps down as chief executive on February 1st, though he will remain a Bentley consultant.

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In a conversation at the Detroit Auto Show, Paefgen told TheDetroitBureau.com he is looking forward to retirement, which comes after “nine years develop(ing) Bentley into a company in a stable situation leading the luxury segment and strong enough to grow further.”

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Shake-Up At Bentley

Paefgen retiring, Durheimer to lead luxury maker as it struggles to regain momentum.

by on Nov.29, 2010

In with the new car, out with the old CEO. Franz-Josef Paefgen poses with the second-generation Bentley Continental GT.

In the midst of a major new product roll-out, Bentley is about to undergo a major shake-up in its management team, as well.

Long-time CEO Franz-Josef Paefgen will retire, with Wolfgang Durheimer slotted in as his replacement next February.

The executive shift comes as Bentley is in the midst of re-doing its entire line-up.  The British marque’s aging flagship sedan, the Arnage, was recently replaced by an all-new model, the $285,000 Mulsanne.  Next up is an all-new version of the Continental line-up, Bentley’s volume mainstay.  The sporty Continental GT replacement made its debut, last month, at the Paris Motor Show.

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The original Continental was a transformative model for Bentley, which was purchased by Volkswagen AG a little more than a decade ago.  Launched during Paefgen’s 8-year tenure as CEO, it generated sales numbers never before seen in the ultra-premium luxury market.  Immediately prior to the 2008 global economic meltdown, Bentley sales soared to more than 10,000 a year, with the various Continental spin-offs, including the GT coupe, Flying Spur sedan and GTC convertible accounting for 90% of that volume.

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First Look: 2011 Bentley Continental GT

Familiar yet different.

by on Sep.07, 2010

All-new? The look of the next-generation Bentley Continental GT is familiar.

Things move at a different pace in Coventry, the headquarters for Bentley Motors.  Change comes slowly and deliberately, but come it must, as the maker has lately been demonstrating.

Soon after the introduction of the all-new Bentley flagship, the big Mulsanne saloon car, the Volkswagen AG subsidiary is pulling the wraps off an updated version of its best-selling Continental GT.  But any sense of déjà vu is understandable.  Despite what the maker claims are some significant technical enhancements – the use of advanced body production systems, a new FlexFuel W12 powertrain and an updated infotainment system – the overall look is very much in line with the outgoing version of the luxury coupe.

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The launch of the next-generation Bentley Continental GT couldn’t come at a more crucial time.  The British maker scored an impressive hit with the original coupe and the numerous Continental variants  that followed – such as the GTC convertible and Flying Spur sedan – the brand’s overall volume soaring to more than 10,000 cars a year.

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