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Hybrid to power Bentayga flagship

Power potential: Bentley's first SUV uses unadulterated petrol power, but additional variants to the range will see more firsts for the English luxury brand.

Bentley Bentayga range addition will better petrol performance with hybrid power

18 Mar 2016

BENTLEY'S foray into SUV territory will also pioneer other new realms for the British luxury car-maker, with hybrid powertrains and compression ignition power on the way, but extra engines will be in the name of power, not frugality, the company says.

While Bentley acknowledges its customer base is more likely to put luxury and performance above fuel economy, a social stigma attached to large-capacity petrol engines is making a case for more efficient drivetrains.

Speaking at the Bentayga's Australian media launch, Bentley Asia-Pacific dealer sales manager David Simpson said additional engines would trade on their performance benefits and not efficiency, with the imminent hybrid out-performing the current W12-powered petrol variant.

“The hybrid element of what we are talking about here is more akin to your (McLaren) P1 and LaFerrari than it is akin to your (Toyota) Prius,” he said.

“Obviously there is an efficiency gain, but when we talk about a hybrid option it is a performance hybrid and likely that would come out higher than the W12 in terms of its price point.

“That is something that we would introduce as a performance leader, absolutely.”

Mr Simpson explained that customers would be primarily drawn to a Bentayga hybrid for its power, but regardless of the drivetrain, a perception of environmental sensitivity would be a welcome byproduct.

“Customers would be very keen to see a performance hybrid on the market because that is something that they can market themselves. They drive a hybrid and that is more acceptable socially and you get the benefit of having the most powerful one.”

For now, the Bentayga is only available worldwide with a 6.0-litre twin-turbocharged W12 engine putting out 447kW/900Nm and, while a second combustion engine will join the range in the form of diesel power, Mr Simpson explained it was harder to justify than a hybrid.

“Certainly diesel is something that we are looking at, but diesel is not as accepted globally as petrol.

“We know that certainly, if we were to do a diesel at Bentley, we would bring that to Australia.

“The US used to be a big diesel market, but Europe and UK still is. It is more efficient and if the crisis is still there with like for like (fuel prices) your car is simply going farther for the same money.”

Mr Simpson couldn't confirm whether a diesel option would be developed in house like the Bentayga W12, which took a Volkswagen idea and added Bentley know-how, or if it would share an unaltered Volkswagen Group unit.

For the latter, one possibility would be the monstrous SQ7 V8 diesel, which produces 320kW and 900Nm, but a business case would first have to be put forward, said Mr Simpson.

“The car was developed alongside the new Q7 (Audi) and Turbo S (Porsche Cayenne). We know that the SQ7 is an engine that clearly works with that platform, but what we would need to look at is really where the appetite is around the world.”

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