News Briefs: Feb. 24, 2012


Here's what we have our eye on today:

  • Auto loan interest rates are at their lowest in at least four years, according to Bloomberg Business Week. The average interest rate for a new-vehicle loan averaged 4.52% in the fourth quarter of 2011, says Experian Automotive. Furthermore, access to credit for people with bad credit ratings is also increasing, according to the Experian study. The total amount of new-vehicle loans to people with non-prime credit increased to 23% of the market, up from less than 20% a year ago, according to the study. Delinquency on existing loans has also continued to decrease.
  • Volkswagen set records with its revenue, profits and vehicle sales for 2011, according to the New York Times. The automaker sold 8.3 million vehicles last year, making it the second-largest automaker behind GM, which sold about 9 million cars, and ahead of Toyota, which sold 7.95 million. Volkswagen recorded a $15.1 billion profit before interest and taxes; the company's net profit was nearly three times more than GM's, says the New York Times. Volkswagen controls Audi, Skoda, Seat, Lamborghini and Bentley, and it is in the process of taking control of Porsche.
  • U.S. auto sales are expected to reach an annual rate of 14 million for February, according to J.D. Power and Associates and Automotive News. If the projected seasonally adjusted rate comes true, that would mean four consecutive months of relatively strong vehicle sales. The robust pace has prompted analysts to adjust their year-end sales projections for 2012. LMC Automotive, which partners with J.D. Power, has upped projections to 14 million, from 13.8 million. Total U.S. sales in 2011 came in at 12.8 million.
  • Steve Ratner, a former lead adviser in President Barack Obama's auto task force, lent his two cents about the resurging political controversy swirling around the auto bailouts from Republican presidential hopefuls. In an op-ed in the New York Times, Ratner says that while Mitt Romney's idea of an independent "managed bankruptcy" sounds good on paper, the reality is that his task force tried to get private financiers to back the bankruptcy, but none would touch the carmakers at the time. Ratner also rebukes charges that the bailouts were illegal, saying judges – all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Chrysler — certified their legality.
By Colin Bird | February 24, 2012 | Comments (0)

Sport-Themed Model, More Options Join Bentley Mulsanne Lineup

Mulsanne mulliner 1
Bentley plans on adding to the Mulsanne family with the new Mulsanne Mulliner Driving Specification. Set to debut in Geneva next month, the new version of Bentley's flagship sedan is being billed as a sportier Mulsanne.

The Mulliner Driving Specification uses the Mulsanne's 505-horsepower, twin-turbocharged 6.75-liter V-8 but adds specific 21-inch alloy wheels, Bentley Flying B design wing vents and a new Sport setting on the driver-selectable suspension system designed to enhance grip and steering accuracy.

By Jennifer Geiger | February 23, 2012 | Comments (0)

2013 Bentley Continental GT, GTC V-8: Photo Gallery

2013 Bentley Continental GT, GTC V-8

Early this year, Bentley will introduce two new, more "affordable," Continental trims, featuring the first V-8 powertrain for the nameplate since 2003.

More 2012 Detroit Auto Show Coverage

The new 500-horsepower, twin-turbocharged V-8, is said to be 40% more fuel efficient compared to the W-12 models.

By Colin Bird | January 11, 2012 | Comments (1)

Bentley Contemplates SUV Model

Ultra-luxury carmaker Bentley is in the final stages of deciding whether or not it will build an SUV model, company CEO Wolfgang Durheimer told Bloomberg BusinessWeek. The final decision will come within the first three months of the year.

If built, the SUV would reportedly cost more than $140,000, Durheimer said. Right now, Bentley's model lineup consists exclusively of the Continental group (which starts at about $180,000) and its Mulsanne flagship, which starts at $290,000. Durheimer said the company is also considering an extended-wheelbase variant of the Mulsanne and thinking about adding even more Continental trims.

Bentley's global sales soared in 2011, which was the carmaker's best year since 2007, according to BusinessWeek. The sales surge comes from Bentley’s expansion in emerging markets such as China, where sales doubled last year. The automaker also saw a 32% sales increase in the U.S., which is currently Bentley’s biggest market.

VW's Bentley Targets 'Robust' Growth as Wealthy Reopen Wallets (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

By Colin Bird | January 3, 2012 | Comments (3)

New Bentley Continental GT, GTC V-8: First Look

New Bentley Continental GT, GTC V-8

  • Competes with: Rolls-Royce Ghost, Mercedes-Benz CL-Class 
  • Looks like: A "more affordable and fuel-efficient" Continental is on its way complete with sarcasm-filled quotation marks 
  • Drivetrain: 500-hp, twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8; 631-hp, twin-turbocharged W-12; six-speed automatic and eight-speed automatic transmission; all-wheel drive
  • Hits dealerships: Early 2012 

Bentley will introduce two new trims — one for the Continental GT coupe and one for the GTC convertible — powered by a new V-8 engine at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The new powerplant will slot underneath the W-12 engine, which also gets a power boost. This is the first V-8 powertrain offered on the Continental nameplate since 2003. The new 500-horsepower, twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 features direct injection and a cylinder deactivation system. Under the right conditions, four cylinders can deactivate on the V-8. When mated to a standard eight-speed automatic transmission, Bentley expects the powertrain to deliver a 40% improvement in fuel efficiency compared to the W-12 model, which returns 12/19/14 mpg city/highway/combined. The motor will propel the Continental GT from zero to 60 mph in less than 5 seconds, and it has a top speed of more than 180 mph.

By Colin Bird | December 13, 2011 | Comments (1)

2012 Bentley Continental GTC: First Look

2012 Bentley Continental GTC

  • Competes with: Aston Martin DB9 Volante convertible, Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe
  • Looks like: Subtle changes are well worth the wait
  • Drivetrain: 567-hp, 6.0-liter W-12; six-speed automatic transmission; all-wheel drive
  • Hits dealerships: Late 2011

After taking a year off, the Bentley Continental GTC is back for a second generation. Overall, the model undergoes the same aesthetic and mechanical upgrades that the Bentley Continental GT received. To read our review of that very similar model, check out senior editor Joe Wiesenfelder’s review here.

Whereas the previous Bentley GTC aimed to look more modern — at the expense of Bentley’s storied past —  the new model isn’t shy about showing its heritage. Like the GT coupe, the redesigned GTC gets subtle exterior changes that add more definition to the body, particularly around back: The more pronounced rear fenders and the trunk’s raised crease line help invoke images of Bentleys from long ago. You can see elements of the 60-year-old Mark VI and R-Type here.

All GTCs now get 20-inch wheels standard, with three differently styled 21-inch wheels optional. (Those are a first.)

By Colin Bird | August 26, 2011 | Comments (0)

2012 Bentley Continental GT Video

There weren’t many glaring issues with the previous-generation Bentley Continental GT. It catapulted the brand back to prominence with car buffs and celebrities. For 2012, the coupe gets a full redesign, though it might not look much different at first glance. Senior Editor Joe Wiesenfelder takes a look at the new GT and explains why the changes are so significant.

By David Thomas | July 25, 2011 | Comments (1) Reviews the 2012 Bentley Continental GT

2012 Bentley Continental GT

For the 2012 model year, the Bentley Continental GT undergoes a slight restyle that ultimately makes a world of difference, according to senior editor Joe Wiesenfelder. The subtle changes make for a more boldly styled Bentley with better fuel economy and more power, too.

2012 Bentley Continental GT Review

By Colin Bird | June 17, 2011 | Comments (2)

Recall Alert: 2007-2009 Bentley Arnage, Azure, Brooklands

2008 Bentley Azure

Bentley Motors is recalling 596 2007-2009 Arnage, Azure and Brookland models over potential safety concerns involving the brand’s signature “B” hood ornament, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The hood ornament retracts when the vehicle is turned off and also in the case of an accident. The mechanism that retracts the ornament can become corroded over time, which can cause it not to retract when the vehicle is involved in a crash.

If the ornament does not retract, it could increase the risk of injury to pedestrians if the accident involves them. Bentley dealers will replace the retractable “B” mechanism free of charge. The recall begins Sept. 27. For more information, owners can call Bentley at 617-488-8500 or NHTSA's vehicle safety hot line at 888-327-4236.

By Colin Bird | September 20, 2010 | Comments (2)

2011 Bentley Continental GT: First Look

No other car was more responsible for introducing the world to affordable uber-luxury than the Bentley Continental GT. Originally priced just north of $150,000, it was the next step up for folks buying fully loaded BMWs and Benzes in the six-figure range. Having Paris Hilton snapped by the paparazzi in one early in the 2000s didn’t hurt at building the GT’s notoriety.
While Hilton continues to make headlines for the wrong reasons, Bentley is reshaping its image into something more … classy.
By David Thomas | September 7, 2010 | Comments (4)

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