Monday, February 18, 2008

Bentley goes diesel power

Given the enthusiastic response to its Audi R8 V12 TDI concept not to mention its diesel-powered dominance of prototype endurance racing in the Le Mans and American Le Mans series, it hardly comes as a surprise to learn that the Volkswagen Group is mulling over a diesel engine for its rarefied Bentley range.

Similar to Rolls-Royce, which is also considering such an engine for its forthcoming RR4 model, the Bentley seems a wholly logical recipient for a low-revving, torque-rich diesel engine, now that now that advanced engine-management and emission-control systems have consigned the noisy, foul-smelling diesel to history.

Although either VW's existing 5.0-liter V-10 TDI or Audi's under-development 6.0-liter V-12 TDI would seem a fine starting point, Bentley insists they're both too big to fit beneath the hood of the Continental Flying Spur (pictured above). We're skeptical about that, however, as the V-10 manages to fit just fine in the Flying Spur's corporate cousin, the VW Phaeton, and the new 6.0-liter, 60-degree diesel V-12 is a scant 1.22 inches longer than Bentley's current 6.0-liter gasoline W-12. Besides, if Audi engineers can shoehorn the twin-turbo V-12 into the R8, dropping the engine into a large Bentley sedan should be a cinch. Somehow, we think that once the brand's loyal clientele decide they're willing to pay for the ability to traverse 800 miles on a tank of fuel (not to mention a vastly more torque), Bentley will make it happen.

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