Where we stand: October, 2012
Sophistication, style and performance: these are the adjectives that usually spring to mind when most of us are asked to describe a Bentley. The luxury carmaker is famous for being driven by the nation’s elite – including football stars such as David Beckham – and for being the ultimate motoring status symbol.
Yet over the last few years, Bentley has taken steps to add a new adjective to that impressive list: “green”. Since 2008, it has made environmental performance a key element of its engineering, slashing the fuel consumption of existing models and delving into exciting new technologies, such as by introducing plug-in hybrid and flex-fuel concepts. Here we take a look at Bentley’s green car steps to date and what the future may hold.
It was back in March 2008 that Bentley began to make its first steps towards revamping its vehicle line-up by announcing a new environmental strategy (see article). It was at this point that it revealed plans to become the first carmaker in its segment to offer renewable fuel vehicles; as well as substantial powertrain improvements. It was hoped that efficiency improvements could lead to a reduction in CO2 emissions from its existing powertrains of at least 15 per cent by 2012. It also revealed plans for a new powertrain to be introduced in 2012 that offers a 40 per cent fuel economy saving.
In March the following year, Bentley began to deliver on its promises by unveiling the greenest car in its history (see article) at the Geneva Motor Show – a vehicle that could run on biofuels. The Bentley Continental Super Sports is capable of running on petrol and bio-ethanol (see article) – yet, amazingly, the vehicle was also the most powerful that Bentley had ever produced, being capable of a top speed of 204mph and racing from 0-62mph in just 3.7seconds. It was quickly followed in 2010, by the debut of another flex-fuel model: the Bentley Continental Super Sports Convertible (see article), the fastest drop top that the company has ever produced.
However, perhaps its most significant breakthrough was achieved in January this year, when it revealed the new Bentley Continental GT at the North American International Auto Show (see article). With a 4.0litre V8 engine, the vehicle boasts a remarkable fuel efficiency improvement of 40 per cent. The incredible efficiency gains were achieved through a wide range of modifications including: downsizing the engine, introducing variable power steering, featuring a new Bosch engine management system, reducing weight and drag, and featuring low rolling resistance tyres.
In addition, Bentley has shown it is committed to the environmental cause on a wider scale by guaranteeing that 85 per cent of materials used in Continental models will be recyclable (see article).
Greenest models on sale:
The following are the greenest models of all new Bentley models available now in the UK:
Bentley Continental Flying Spur Greenest Model: Bentley Continental Flying Spur with combined fuel consumption of 16.6mpg and CO2 emissions of 396g/km.
Bentley Continental GT Greenest Model: Bentley Continental GT V8 with combined fuel consumption of 18mpg and CO2 emissions of 246g/km.
Bentley Continental GT Convertible Greenest Model: Bentley Continental GT Convertible V8 with combined fuel consumption of 17mpg and CO2 emissions of 246g/km.
Bentley Continental Super Sports Greenest Model: Bentley Continental Super Sports with combined fuel consumption of 17.0mpg and CO2 emissions of 388g/km.
Bentley EXP 9F Concept Greenest Model: Bentley EXP 9F Concept with a potential 30km range in full electric mode and CO2 emissions of 130g/km.
Bentley Mulsanne Greenest Model: Bentley Mulsanne with combined fuel consumption of 16.8mpg and CO2 emissions of 393g/km.
It was at this year’s Geneva Motor Show and Auto China events that Bentley gave us a glimpse into its future by unveiling a new SUV featuring plug-in hybrid technology, known as the EXP 9F Concept (see article).
The EXP 9F will feature a 6.0litre, twin turbocharged W12 petrol engine capable of developing 800Nm of torque and 600bhp with an eight-speed transmission. However, Bentley is said to be considering a number of powertrain options for the SUV including a V6 plug-in hybrid that could potentially travel for 30km on electric charge only, race from 0-62mph in just five seconds, and boast CO2 emissions at a meagre 130g/km.
According to Wolfgang Durheimer, the chairman and chief executive of Bentley, an SUV will be a “natural fit” for the company: and whichever powertrain option is ultimately chosen, the thunderous power of a Bentley will be assured.
Paul is a freelance writer with a background in everything from motoring to finance; and holidays to women's undergarments he just writes about them, honestly! He has now sadly crept into his early 30s and seems to have forgotten everything learned at school Still, he's a green car fanatic and isn't that what counts?
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