Bentley gives an inside look at the next-gen Continental

2010 bentley continental gtc speed 010

2010 bentley continental gtc speed 010

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Grooming a new model for release into the world is a tough task - ask any carmaker. But Bentley isn't just any carmaker, and so the task is even more monumental. Work on the new Continental, for example, is already underway, though the car isn't expected to make its debut until early 2011. Today some of the speculative details have emerged.

The first of the new Continental line will be the GT Coupe, followed about a year later by the Flying Spur sedan, then another twelve months to the release of the GTC Convertible, while the Speed models will be saved for the mid-point of the generation, around 2015, says Automobile.

Appearances are hard to predict, and even harder to describe, but expect incremental changes to the current Bentley language. A focus will be placed on making the cars more aerodynamic, helping to improve efficiency and speed, so a slightly smoother, more refined version of today's Continental is likely.

Under the skin the next-gen Continental will share more bits with corporate sister the Audi A8, though all visible elements can be expected to remain pure Bentley. Lighter materials and design will cut weight from the cars, improving efficiency and performance, while at the same time allowing for a longer wheelbase and therefore more room inside the Coupe.

Power-wise, one big expected change is the addition of a 375hp (280kW) 4.2L V8 turbodiesel engine to the lineup. An upgraded version of the W12 engine is also in the cards, with about 580hp (432kW) and 515lb-ft (697Nm) of torque on tap in standard models. Speed variants will get upgrades to the 650hp (485kW) neighborhood - a very quick neighborhood indeed.

Radical options could also be in store should the market undergo even more sweeping changes than we've seen in the past 8 months. "I would rather derive, the next Continental coupe from a future Audi A5 than let the company go under. In that case, a twin-turbo V-6 might be an appropriate engine," said Bentley Chairman and CEO Franz-Josef Paefgen. He quickly noted that though the scenario is possible, at this point, it is not likely.

Expect pricing to take off from around the current $180,000-$200,000 mark when they begin rolling in early next decade.
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