Pilot production of the first model in the new MSB (mid sized Bentley) range - a 180mph four-seater GT coupe - has started at the Volkswagen-owned company's Crewe plant. It should be on sale by mid 2003 and MSB pricing will be between 10% and 20% above parallel Mercedes models.
Adrian Hallmark, Bentley's sales and marketing director, claimed that the £100,000-plus car would be "different to anything in the market place - the advance guard for MSB, a full four-seater with supercar performance."
Later, a rival for Mercedes-Benz's S-class and the new BMW 7 Series will form a central part of the MSB line-up. Benchmarked against Mercedes, the two-seater will have similar performance to Porsche's 911 Turbo or Ferrari's 360 Modena, and is likely to be powered by the VW Group's radical W12 flagship engine. It will have between eight and 12 cylinders.
Mr Hallmark denied the first MSB would be a "glorified Audi A8" and revealed the steel body frame would incorporate "bolt on" aluminium and composite elements. Bentley plans to preview the GT Coupe in the first half of next year at a "major event, but not a motor show". (November 12, 2001)