Popularity is pushing the move to reinvent the limousine.
While Bentley may have given the Bentayga the honour of being the brands’ first production car to feature electrification, it’s far from being the last on the list. Following the appointment of a new CEO earlier this year, the British ultra-luxury marque is now looking to bring the same treatment to its second most-popular model in the lineup, the Flying Spur saloon.
While the saloon market is shrinking globally, the same fate hasn’t befallen the ultra-luxury saloon though. Before the arrival of the Bentayga, the Flying Spur was the brands’ strongest seller, with the larger and plusher Mulsanne sitting behind the Continental in terms of figures. Further, the Flying Spur’s popularity in emissions-sensitive markets like China are also a factor in the ‘electrified reinvention’ of the nameplate, which will arrive with a new-generation model due next year.
“There’s two aspects that drive electrification. One is compliance with regional standards, and the other is being competitive. In terms of compliance, that will lead us down one direction. Obviously Bentayga is our highest-volume car, so that was the first we had to hybridise. The next volume car is probably going to be the saloon car, so if you wanted a second car just for compliance, then that would normally be the next selection.” — Adrian Hallmark, CEO, Bentley Motors Limited
Of course, when Hallmark was asked by UK publication Autocar if he meant concretely that the Flying Spur would be the next hybrid from Bentley, he responded with one word: “Possibly.”
Further, with the latest iteration of the Flying Spur, Bentley intends to wedge a bit more of a gap between it and the Continental GT that it shares its underpinnings with. The Flying Spur and Continental have always sat side-by-side as complimenting models, but the popularity of each model and their appeal to rather different kinds of buyers means that further differentiation is demanded.
“If we look at the outgoing Continental and the current Flying Spur, it was absolutely unashamedly the strategy to have as much carry-over as possible. The whole dashboard, the front wing, everything. The facelift then changed it, and the new Flying Spur is as pure to its concept as can be, and will be more differentiated [from the new Continental GT] than the outgoing cars are between each other.” — Adrian Hallmark, CEO, Bentley Motors Limited
When it arrives sometime next year, expect the new-generation Bentley Flying Spur to pack the usual V8 and W12 petrol mills first, before we see a V6 plug-in hybrid model later in its life cycle. A ‘Speed’ performance-focused variant will debut sometime after that, and make share a higher-powered motor from the Continental GT Speed that will debut before it.