Sunday, November 4, 2012

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

Toned and refined look for new Bentley Flying Spur

Posted: 04 Nov 2012 01:30 AM PST

Four-door Bentley Continental to get a purposeful new look

Bentley will give its 200mph Flying Spur saloon a sporty makeover late next year. The more shapely sheetmetal and significant under-the-skin improvements are aimed at keeping ahead of the all-new Mercedes S-class.

Shown here in an artist's impression based on solid inside information, the new Spur is the result of a clever reskin and re-engineering of the existing platform.

The key styling themes are sportier proportions and more fluid-looking surfaces, which are inspired by elements of the new Continental GT and the imposing Mulsanne flagship.

From the GT comes a toned-down version of the two-door's muscular rear haunch, and the Mulsanne donates its elegant 'catwalk', a flowing belt line that widens over the rear haunch to suggest power and performance flowing from the rear axle.

"It's got much more 'Coke bottle' than before and looks a lot sportier," said one insider.

The new proportions are draped over a carried-over wheelbase, tracks and fixed-design 'hard' points and centre on a more raked rear screen, taller boot line and narrower rear glasshouse, to impart a more upmarket, sportier look.

Because the Spur sells in significant numbers in China, where owners prefer to be chauffeur-driven, Bentley hasn't compromised the interior package in the name of sportiness.

The interior trim mirrors improvements made to the Mk2 Continental GT, including higher-grade mouldings, instruments, minor switchgear, leather and carpets.

Engineering refinement has been another major area of attention — particularly noise paths from the air-sprung suspension, ride quality and isolation of powertrain noise.

The powertrains will follow the pattern set by the Continental GT and GTC, adding a twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 to the saloon range for the first time, paired with an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox.

The V8 is given away by the figure-of-eight shape of the tailpipes spotted by our spies on a test prototype. With an output of about 500bhp and 487lb ft of torque, the Spur V8 is likely to crack 180mph and 0-60mph in just over 5.0sec.

The V8 will also bring lower fuel consumption and emissions, pushing the Spur's economy towards the mid-20s with about 300g/km of CO2.

The V8 will shift the Spur into a slightly more affordable — a relative term, of course — price point of about £120k, closer to Mercedes' S63 AMG.

Given the importance of the V8 badge in the US, sales are likely to get a significant boost in North America.

The Spur W12 will get a refinement and economy boost from the eight-speed ZF auto, and the top speed of the more slippery four-door body should nudge it over 200mph, boosted by the more powerful, 567bhp version of the engine.

The headline-grabbing 616bhp Spur Speed is likely to push its 200mph-plus top speed further, helped by the extra 16bhp of its beefier W12.

Bentley is understood to be mulling over a launch date. The Geneva show next March is the current favourite, although Frankfurt next September remains a possibility.

Tesla eyes replacement for its electric roadster

Posted: 04 Nov 2012 01:30 AM PDT

Potential new two-seater will be the flagship in the company's newly expanded model line-up

Tesla is evaluating a new electric two-seat roadster to top off its expanded range of saloons and SUVs. But the new sports car is at least five years from production.

The original, Lotus Elise-based Tesla Roadster goes off sale this year to coincide with the launch of the company's first self-developed model, the BMW 5-series-sized Model S, due on sale here next summer.

Next year Tesla plans to reveal a gullwing-doored SUV, the Model X, which should arrive in the UK by 2015. Also in the plan is a more mainstream BMW 3-series-sized rival, pencilled in for 2015-2016.

"The small saloon will likely sit on an all-new generation of our aluminium platform that will take us forward again and be the basis for all Teslas," said George Blankenship, vice-president of sales and ownership experience.

Once the range has been filled out with small and medium saloons and a compact SUV, there is an opportunity to add a successor to the Roadster.

"It isn't decided that we will build another Roadster, but that would be around the time we would look to have a real 'halo' model in the range," said Blankenship.

In the meantime, the most potent Tesla will be the BMW M5-rivalling Model S Signature Performance, whose 416bhp engine gives it an M5-equalling 0-62mph time of 4.4sec.

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