Greener dream a Spur for Bent­ley

Fuel econ­omy is the real lux­ury, writes in the US NEIL DOWL­ING

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige -

AGREENER ethanol en­gine is one way Bent­ley plans to pro­tect its place at the top of global mo­tor­ing. The lux­ury Bri­tish brand will slash ex­haust emis­sions and boost fuel econ­omy un­der sweep­ing plans un­der de­vel­op­ment by Bent­ley in part­ner­ship with Volk­swa­gen. It plans to suck the en­gi­neer­ing ex­per­tise of its Ger­man par­ent com­pany and then adapt VW tech­nol­ogy to its own range. The plan is firm, but Bent­ley head of en­gi­neer­ing Paul Jones is not big on de­tail. Speak­ing at the launch of its 2009 Con­ti­nen­tal Fly­ing Spur mod­els in Bos­ton, Jones hints that Bent­ley will take a se­ries of stabs into the heart of its range’s high fuel con­sump­tion. He in­di­cates the first move will be bio­fu­el­com­pat­i­ble en­gines in an ef­fort to get the brand’s CO2 emis­sion lev­els down to­wards the pro­posed Euro­pean Union’s 120g/km tar­get. So en­gines with Saab-style E85 com­pat­i­bil­ity will be­come avail­able within two years for the US and Europe. There is noth­ing firm for Aus­tralia as the roll­out of E85 fuel is still in its in­fancy. Jones says Bent­ley will not be party to sourc­ing ethanol from hu­man feed­stock. ‘‘We will not be­come in­volved in us­ing food crops to power our cars. The E85 fuel will have to come from other sources such as wood pulp and the woody stalks of crops,’’ he says. The first Bent­ley to get E85 com­pat­i­bil­ity will be the Ar­nage V8. This 50-year-old en­gine is ex­pected to re­main be­hind a Bent­ley badge for at least four years . . . per­haps longer if it can meet fu­ture emis­sion reg­u­la­tions, says Jones. But it is ex­pected to be re­placed with a new pow­er­plant by 2012 which he hints ‘‘will have a 40 per cent re­duc­tion in CO2’’, and there­fore, a 40 per cent de­crease in fuel con­sump­tion. ‘‘But it will have no change in per­for­mance. We won’t do busi­ness if we have to re­duce per­for­mance. Our cus­tomers have very strin­gent de­mands,’’ he says. Jones will not in­di­cate what pow­er­plant will make th­ese re­duc­tions, though his hints ar­rive around the same time the Volk­swa­gen Group — in­clud­ing VW’s ma­jor share­holder Porsche — has out­lined a new push into hy­brids. Bent­ley has sug­gested it will make its cars lighter to help the fuel econ­omy which, in the 2.5-tonne Fly­ing Spur sa­loon, av­er­ages about 17 litres/100km. A fuel-ef­fi­cient Volk­swa­gen DSG semi­au­to­mated trans­mis­sion is pos­si­ble, but Jones says the W12 en­gine’s high torque will be too high. Other than the hy­brid route, Bent­ley also has ac­cess to the Volk­swa­gen tur­bod­iesel en­gine range in­clud­ing a bi-turbo V12 and V10 it has de­vel­oped for its Q7 four-wheel drive and R8 su­per­car.

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