Lamborghini Urus will debut a new Audi-developed production system and be built at the rate of 3,500/annum

Lamborghini Urus will debut a new Audi-developed production system and be built at the rate of 3,500/annum

Following the reviews of Volkswagen, Audi, Škoda and SEAT, the fifth of a six-part series concerning the Volkswagen Group's brands examines Bentley, Lamborghini and Bugatti. Porsche will be the final chapter.

Bentley

Saloons

The Mulsanne has been around since 2009 and uses an old platform. It is powered by the engine from the 1998-2008 Bentley Arnage (Bentley calls it a 6¾-litre V8) but updated with cylinder deactivation. The turbocharged petrol engine originally produced 377kW (505bhp) with torque of 1,020Nm, Bentley claimed at the time of the car's release, and the gearbox is an eight-speed automatic.

An updated Mulsanne was a world premiere at April 2015's Shanghai motor show. While there were no increases in the 512 PS (505bhp / 377kW) of power and 1,020 Nm (752 lb.ft) of torque, the 6¾-litre twin turbo V8 engine is now claimed to be 13% more efficient. Changes were made to the gearbox calibration. In North America, the update applied for the 2016 model year.

Even though the car is more or less a totally re-engineered 1998-2008 Arnage, it is fair to say the Mulsanne uses a bespoke platform, so much was changed. It had its world premiere at Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in August 2009 and then again a month later at the Frankfurt motor show, where specs were released.

The 'Bentley Hybrid Concept' premiered at the Beijing motor show in April 2014. It was based upon the Mulsanne but no production model has resulted.

The Mulsanne Speed was revealed at the Paris motor show in October 2014. This additional derivative has 1,100Nm of torque and 395kW (537PS) of power.

A facelifted range entered showrooms during the third quarter of 2016. In addition to the Mulsanne and Mulsanne Speed, there is now a stretched derivative, the Mulsanne Extended Wheelbase. The three cars had their world premieres at the Geneva motor show in March 2016. North America's 2017 model year Mulsanne has the facelift. The stretched Mulliner Limousine was also a world premiere at the same Geneva show. It is a metre longer and 79mm taller than the standard Mulsanne.

BY841, the MSB-based Mulsanne replacement, is expected in 2019. It will be offered as a plug-in hybrid in many markets. There may also be a limited number of cars; perhaps 50-100 in the style of Aston Martin's Lagonda Taraf sedan.

The Flying Spur (BY621), which sits above the Mulsanne in the Bentley range, had its global debut at the Geneva motor show in March 2013. It is more or less a new body and upgraded engine on the previous car's platform, though the model name was shortened from the former Continental Flying Spur.

The Spur was launched with a standard 616bhp 6.0-litre biturbo W12 engine, linked to an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. Torque was quoted as being 800Nm. 

Even though the car tips the scales just short of 2.5 tonnes, efforts at weight reduction were made: the bonnet and front wings are aluminium, while a polymer composite material is used for the bootlid. Cleverly, this also integrates the main antennae for the vehicle's electronic systems. The car went on sale across European markets from May 2013 and in the US from the following month for the latter's 2014 model year.

An additional variant, the Spur V8, had its world premiere at the 2014 Geneva show. This one is powered by a 507PS (373kW) biturbo 4.0-litre V8. Torque is claimed to be 660Nm. An eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox is standard, as is all-wheel drive. The following differences distinguish the V8 from the W12 Flying Spur: figure of eight chromed exhaust finishers signify the alternative powertrain, the Bentley winged badge has a red centre to denote the V8 engine, and the front bumper grilles are finished in black, with a black 'wing' insert.

A revised Flying Spur premiered at the Geneva motor show in March 2015. There were some changes for the interior, new wheels and a lower CO2 average for the W12 engine.

The Spur V8 S was a new variant which premiered at the Geneva motor show in March 2016. Its power is 388kW (528PS), while torque is 680Nm. The Spur V12 S followed six months later at the Paris show. This, the first four-door Bentley to have a top speed in excess of 200mph, has power of 635PS (626bhp) and 820Nm (605 lb. ft.) of torque. Claimed top speed is 202mph (325km/h).

A facelifted range should appear in 2018 with the next generation Spur arriving in 2021. This seems most likely to be based on MSB, the Volkswagen Group's latest RWD-AWD architecture.

Coupes & Cabriolets

The current generation Continental GT, a rebodying of the previous car, went on sale across Europe in March 2011. Its world premiere was at the Paris motor show in September 2010. The Continental GTC (convertible) had its global debut at the Frankfurt motor show in September 2011 and was in dealers from late 2011. The GT and GTC were launched with a standard 6.0-litre W12 engine. This was an update of the first generation car's engine but power rose to a claimed 423kW.

An additional engine had its global debut in the GT and GTC at the Detroit motor show in January 2012. Bentley says its engineers designed the smaller unit, which it builds at Crewe, though this turbocharged 373kW 4.0-litre V8 is a version of an Audi unit of the same capacity. The engine is tuned to run as a V4 on a light throttle opening, while the transmission is an eight-speed automatic.

The GT Speed had its global debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in southern England in June 2012. The additional variant was at that time Bentley's fastest car: the top speed being a claimed 205mph. It was originally powered by a 460kW (616bhp) version of the 6.0-litre biturbo W12 which produced 800Nm of torque. It went on sale in the UK and elsewhere from October 2012. 

The GT Speed Convertible was revealed at the Detroit motor show in January 2013. It had the same engine and eight-speed gearbox as the GT Speed. More powerful versions of the GT Speed and GT Speed Convertible were launched at the Geneva motor show in March 2014. These cars' engines produce a claimed 635PS (467kW) and 850Nm. The updated cars can be told from the former ones by body colouring for the front splitter, side skirts and rear diffuser, as well as a dark finish for the 21" wheels, headlamps and tail lamps.

Two additional variants, the Continental V8 S coupe and convertible, were launched at the Frankfurt motor show in September 2013. They feature lowered suspension and are powered by a 521bhp version of the 4.0-litre turbo V8 engine. There are also bespoke 20-inch alloy wheels, a rear wing, side skirts, a front air dam and red brake calipers. As with other V8-engined Continentals, the Bentley wings badges have a red centre and the exhaust finishers are shaped like a figure of eight.

A detuned version of Bentley's GT3 racing car was announced in June 2014 and reached dealerships from late 2014. This was the GT3-R, of which 300 units were built. This car had shorter gearing and just two seats, while its biturbo 4.0-litre V8 produced 426kW (580PS) and 700Nm of torque, while it was claimed to be 100kg lighter than the GT V8 S.

A facelift for the GT and a more powerful W12 engine premiered at the Geneva motor show in March 2015. The twelve-cylinder engine's outputs rose to 590PS and 720Nm (formerly 575PS and 700Nm). North America's 2016MY GT was the facelifted car.

The successors to the Continental GT and GTC are expected to be based upon the Porsche-developed MSB platform. The GT should enter production first (Q1, 2018), to be followed by the GTC.

BY835 is the development code for a big convertible which would be priced above the Conti GTC. This may be called Azure. Such a model had been expected to be launched as long ago as late 2013 as the effective replacement for the long-discontinued Azure.

The Mulsanne Convertible Concept was shown to selected potential buyers as well as some journalists at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in August 2012. The VW Group division did not, however, issue images of the car to the media, only sketches. The project was axed in 2013, only to be revived a year later when the 'Bentley Grand Convertible', a concept, appeared at the LA auto show in November 2014. A production model is expected to appear in 2018 or 2019 with build limited to low volumes.

SUVs

The BY716 Bentayga is of course Bentley's first SUV, going on sale worldwide from the start of this year. Production commenced in November 2015. A facelift is expected in the first quarter of 2020 and a replacement model three to four years after this.

This big 4x4 uses the same basic architecture as the second generation Audi Q7. A preview, in the form of the EXP 9 F concept, was revealed at the Geneva show in March 2012 and it had strong styling which split opinions.

In July 2013, Bentley stated that an SUV would be built at its Crewe plant in 2016. In April 2015, the Volkswagen Group announced that bodies for the Bentayga would be made alongside its other big SUVs at the Bratislava plant in Slovakia. Final assembly would, and does indeed, take place in Crewe.

In February 2014, the division's then CEO Wolfgang Schreiber told the media that the US market was expected to account for 30% of a planned 3,000 units per annum. Pricing would start at US$190,000 in 2014 terms, and the hybrid would follow in 2017.

The Bentayga model name was announced at the Detroit motor show in January 2015: the vehicle is named after a rock formation on Gran Canaria. It would be revealed later in 2015, Bentley said at that time. The car's public debut took place at the Frankfurt IAA in September 2015 though it had been shown to some journalists and potential buyers several weeks beforehand.

Bentley told the media in March 2014 that it would be building W12 engines for the Volkswagen Group at its powertrain plant from the end of 2014, with annual production of up to 9,000 units possible. Some of these are expected to go into the next A8.

Volkswagen claims its latest W12 TSI is the most economical twelve-cylinder engine in the luxury car segment with CO2 emissions of less than 250g/km in the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC). The W12-engined Bentayga was announced just ahead of the Frankfurt motor show in September 2015. This 6.0-litre engine produces a claimed 608PS (447kW) and 900Nm. Top speed said to be 301km/h (187mph).

This first diesel Bentley was announced in September. This uses the Volkswagen Group's new triple-turbocharged 4.0-litre engine, which is the same basic unit as in the Audi SQ7 TDI. There is an electric supercharger fed by a 48V electrical system as well as two turbochargers. Drive to both axles is via a ZF eight-speed torque converter automatic gearbox. Power is 320kW (435PS) with torque of 900Nm (664 lb.ft.) torque. Zero to 100km/h is claimed to take 4.8 seconds and the top speed is said to be 270km/h (168mph). The CO2 average for this big SUV is 210g/km, which is the lowest for any Bentley.

A Bentayga Coupé is said to have been recently approved by Volkswagen. This would have four doors but a lower roof line. It should be in showrooms by mid-2019. That would be six months before the Bentayga reaches mid-life so the extra fastback bodystyle should in theory keep the model series selling well.

The Coupé should have an eight-year production run with a facelift after four, and be assembled on the same line as the Bentayga at Crewe. Bodies would be transported to England from Bratislava.

BY635 is the project code for a future 4.8m long SUV. This would make it about half way between the Porsche Macan and Cayenne but obviously a lot more expensive than the latter. The architecture is most likely to be MLB Evo. Bentley suspects there is a sweet spot in the market for an SUV which is smaller than the Bentayga and which neither Rolls-Royce nor Mercedes-Maybach nor Aston Martin has exploited.

If given the go-ahead, the additional model would enter production in early 2020 and have an eight-year lifecycle with a facelift at the half way point. It is almost guaranteed to offer a petrol-electric PHEV powertrain, even though this strategy was linked to the former chairman and CEO Wolfgang Schreiber who left Bentley in mid-2014.

In April 2014, Schreiber told the media: "There is no doubt that plug-in hybrid technology is true to Bentley's values of outstanding luxury and effortless performance. Combining our renowned engines with electric power reinforces and enhances both principles, and so we will gradually introduce this powertrain across our model range. By the end of the decade, at least 90% of our production will be available as a plug-in hybrid."

Under the current boss, Wolfgang Dürheimer, Bentley is tasked with lifting sales towards and beyond 20,000 vehicles per annum by 2020. Global deliveries might even reach 25,000 that year, depending on how well received BY635 is, and the state of the world's main super luxury vehicle markets. An interim target is 15,000 in 2018.

Lamborghini

Coupés & roadsters

The Aventador is the more expensive and oldest of Lamborghini's two models. The car had its global premiere at the Geneva motor show in March 2011 as the Aventador LP700-4. Production started at Lamborghini's Sant'Agata Bolognese manufacturing base three months later. Four-wheel drive is standard and the suffix is explained by the 700hp (525kW) 6.5-litre V12.

The Aventador J, a roadster version of the coupe, had its world premiere at the Geneva show in March 2012. The company built only one unit of this car. The LP700-4 Roadster was then announced by Lamborghini in November 2012.

The Veneno, a derivative of the Aventador, was revealed at the Geneva motor show in March 2013. Only three examples were made. The Veneno was powered by a 552kW (750hp) 6.5-litre V12 and was distinguished by its a Le Mans racer-style raised 'spine'.

A Veneno Roadster was announced in October 2013. The company stated that it would build 'not more than nine units' of this convertible during 2014, each priced at 3.3 million euro. The roadster had the same engine as the coupe. It made its public debut in spectacular style on board the Italian naval aircraft carrier Nave Cavour on 1 December 2013.

Lamborghini has continued to add new variants, with the Aventador LP750-4 Superveloce having its world premiere at the 2015 Geneva motor show. It has a 550kW V12 and lost 50kg of kerb weight. The company told the media at the following month's Shanghai motor show that 600 units of the car would be built. An Aventador LP750-4 Superveloce Roadster debuted at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in September 2015, and 500 units of this car will be made.

Most recently, at this year's Geneva motor show, the cover was pulled off an effective successor to the Veneno. Called Centenario, the car commemorates 100 years since founder Feruccio Lamborghini was born (April 28, 1916). Power is 566kW (770PS). The company will build 20 coupes and 20 roadsters. The Centenario Roadster was not shown at Geneva; instead, it showed up five months later at the Pebble Beach Concours.

There is speculation that a model based on the Egoista concept from 2013 might be built, and based upon the Aventador: Lamborghini has trademarked the name. There again, this might turn out to be the name of the Aventador replacement.

A facelifted Aventador is due in the second quarter of 2017, to be followed by a new model in 2020. This may use either a version of the Audi R8's architecture or else an evolution of the 992 Porsche 911's platform. The Aventador is based on the same LA2 architecture as two now out of production models, the first Audi R8 and Lamborghini Gallardo.

The Volkswagen Group's MMS platform is the basis of Lamborghini's second supercar, the Huracán, which entered production in March 2014. Like the more expensive Aventador, it is built in Sant'Agata Bolognese. The mid-engine matrix of this replacement for the Gallardo is also used by the Audi R8.

The Huracán LP610-4 is powered by a 448kW (610PS) 5,204cc naturally aspirated V10, with drive sent to all wheels. A stop-start system is standard, as is a seven-speed dual clutch transmission named LDF (Lamborghini Doppia Frizione) and carbon-ceramic brakes.

The firm describes the chassis as an 'integrated structure of carbon and aluminium', and the car has a dry weight of 1,422kg. The Gallardo had an aluminium space frame consisting of cast nodes and extruded profile with permanently integrated aluminium panels. Its successor's platform instead combines aluminium components with large elements made from carbonfibre reinforced polymer (CFRP).

The hybrid chassis consists partly of aluminium; the front and rear sections of the car with the axle mounts are made almost entirely from this alloy, and carbonfibre parts produced using the RTM process (Resin Transfer Moulding). 

The carbon components are concentrated around the occupant cell, where they form part of the floor and sills, the centre tunnel, the rear bulkhead and the B-pillars. The x-shaped brace in the engine bay is also made from CFRP. Stainless steel fasteners connect the aluminium and carbonfibre components. The chassis of the Huracán LP 610-4 weighs less than 200 kilograms, according to Lamborghini.

The Spyder had its debut at the Frankfurt IAA in September 2015. A lower-power and rear-wheel drive variant of the coupe, the LP 580-2, then premiered at November 2015's LA auto show, with the LP 580-2 Spyder following at the 2016 LA show. Lamborghini also calls this car the rear-wheel drive Spyder.

The Huracán should have a facelift in about two and a half years' time, production of these cars commencing in May 2019. The next generation model should then enter production in the second quarter of 2024. It may use a version of the Audi R8's architecture or an evolution of the 992 Porsche 911's platform. It might, however, be the first Volkswagen Group model for a fresh mid-engined matrix to succeed MSS.

The future SUV

LB716 is the project code for what will likely become the Urus. The name comes from a concept (pictured above) which had its global debut at the Beijing motor show in April 2012. Some sources believe that an alternate badge, Deimos, might be used.

This big SUV will share much with the Audi Q7 and Bentley Bentayga, as will the next editions of the VW Touareg and Porsche Cayenne. The first vehicle is due to be delivered in the first quarter of 2018 so the development programme is now approaching some crucial stages. A facelift would follow in 2022 or 2023 and the second generation model should then appear in 2026.

A plug-in hybrid variant will supposedly be part of the range, though the first versions should be powered by a biturbo 4.0-litre (petrol) V8. China, Germany, Russia, the US, the UK and the Middle East will be the main markets, according to Lamborghini.

The Urus will be based on a bespoke version of the Audi-developed Modularer Längsbaukasten Evolution (MLB Evo) platform. This specially developed architecture is said to contain aluminium in cast, extruded and pressed forms, as well as steel pressings. The two materials will reportedly be bonded and riveted in a similar fashion to how Jaguar creates the XJ's platform. Carbonfibre is also expected to feature for multiple components. 

Production will not be on a conventional assembly line but shall instead take place via what Audi, the parent company, says will be a 'modular' system. If successful, this experiment at the Sant'Agata Bolognese factory will be adapted to far higher volumes for Audi's own plants.

Speaking at the Frankfurt IAA in September 2015, then company CEO Stephan Winkelmann told the media that he saw potential build of 3,000 SUVs per annum. His successor, Stefano Domenicali, spoke of 3,500 a year in an interview in August 2016. Lamborghini's current CEO also stated that combined annual production of the company's supercars would be around the 3,500 mark by 2019. 

In 2015, Lamborghini delivered a record 3,245 vehicles, with the US accounting for just under a third of that total. Getting to 7,000 shouldn't be a problem as long as the company's major markets don't enter a deep recession in the coming few years.

Bugatti

Production of the Chiron, the successor to the EB 16.4 Veyron, commenced in April 2016. In June 2015, the Volkswagen Group's then CEO Martin Winterkorn stated that the model would have a hybrid powertrain but curiously, this proved to be untrue. The car had its public debut just nine months later at the Geneva motor show. 

Bugatti plans to build 500 cars in all, each priced from EUR2.4m in European markets (450 Veyrons were delivered between 2005 and 2014). The final vehicles will likely be manufactured in 2025. No mid-cycle facelift is scheduled though a targa body will be added in 2018 or 2019.

The Chiron, which was developed with the BG834 project code, uses a unique architecture. The 8.0-litre W16 engine, which has four turbochargers, has an output of 1,103kW/1500PS and torque of 1,600Nm. Top speed is claimed to 261mph/420km/h.

From time to time, reports crop up claiming that a super saloon in the style of the 16C Galibier concept from 2009 might be built. It is believed that with Volkswagen's current cost cutting regime and forthcoming dismissal of 30,000 workers, plans to spend money on another Bugatti project have been cancelled. 

Future model plan reports for other manufacturers can be viewed in the OEM product strategy summaries section of just-auto.com.

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