Bentley secrets and limos revealed in Geneva
Luxury automaker showcases two fresh cruisers for 2013 — including the much-improved new Flying Spur — but they're not the big news.
Bentley Flying Spur
At the 2013 Geneva Motor Show, Bentley unveiled two new iterations of its luxo-mobiles, the Flying Spur and the Mulsanne. But were these the cars that dogged auto journalists wanted to discuss with Bentley boss Wolfgang Schreiber? Of course they weren't. "Tell us about the SUV," they cajoled. With a glint in his eye, Schreiber said, "You know, it's the first time I've been asked that today."
Nothing is official yet, but a decision is expected within weeks. If it gets the green light — and, let's face it, it's almost a slam dunk — a Bentley SUV will arrive in mid-2015 or early 2016.
It will look very different than the controversial EXP 9F shown last year in Geneva. Schreiber said that SUV concept did a great job in canvassing opinion but was just a bit too close to a Range Rover. Suffice it to say, the production version will look different.
This will be Bentley's fourth model line — including the now-independent Flying Spur — and it's expected to add 50 percent to overall sales. It seems like all efforts in the company are focused on the SUV, particularly since it sounds so close to being confirmed.
All this SUV-sleuthing makes the launch of the 2013 Flying Spur go almost unnoticed. Will we be saying that again later this year when it's on sale and the all-new Mercedes S-Class hits showrooms at the same time?
Bentley Flying Spur
What is it? Bentley's Continental GT-based Flying Spur is a more affordable alternative to the plush Mulsanne. However, its Continental roots have always been a bit too apparent. For 2013, Bentley is splitting the Flying Spur from the Continental range. Thus it gets its own distinct styling, heavily revised underpinnings and a cabin packed with new technology, including an onboard Wi-Fi hotspot.
What's hot? The new bodywork of the 2013 Flying Spur is immediately appealing. Details such as the wide-look front end, flowing rear haunches and sharper-edged back end all make it appear far more stylish and desirable. There's also a new touch-screen remote to allow back-seat passengers to control the new features.
What's not? We were expecting Bentley's super new 4.0-liter V8 engine to make a debut, and it hasn't yet. A revised 6.0-liter W12 engine is used, which, while "greener," barely gets 19 mpg. Still, this is a 15 percent increase over the old model, and every little mpg counts.
How much and when? Bentley hasn't released prices for the 2013 Flying Spur, but since it's a potent 616-horsepower machine, we'd expect it to be priced from $225,000. A future V8 variant will be cheaper. The new Flying Spur will go on sale in the summer.
MSN Autos' verdict: This is the fastest Bentley 4-door ever, and the first one to crack 200 mph. The car is also 110 pounds lighter, which means the power-to-weight ratio is improved by 14 percent. Four-wheel drive and a new 8-speed automatic transmission help it accelerate from zero to 60 mph in just 4.3 seconds.
What is it? The 2013 Mulsanne adds new paint and trim options and debuts an Entertainment Specification with everything that busy or bored people need to stay occupied on the move. And if they go overboard on the work or play, comfier seats mean it's an even nicer car to snooze in.
What's hot? Bentley has added 21st-century picnic tables to the 2013 Mulsanne — they are designed for an iPad and wireless keyboard, while the cabin itself is a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot. Eight-inch LCD screens are paired with a Naim audio system for cinemascope DVD playback.
What's not? All this should have been available in the Mulsanne from the start. We'd also like to see more variants in the range too: a faster Speed would be fantastic. Bentley, are you boys listening?
How much and when? The base Mulsanne costs $291,295. Expect the techy options to add a good five-figure sum on top of this, with all other new paint and interior options potentially adding on much more. Customer orders for the new features will start in April.
MSN Autos' verdict: Bentley has really gone to town with connectivity tech in the Mulsanne. It has a Wi-Fi router with the ability to host up to eight — yes, we said eight — mobile devices, a UMTS phone module, a SIM card reader and even a 20-gigabyte hard drive dedicated to the entertainment system.