This audio file gives our first sound of a forthcoming new addition to the Bentley Continental family. Although Bentley isn't saying what it is at this stage, it's pretty obviously the new V8 model which will stretch the Conti family downwards from its W12-only position today.
Bentley has codeveloped the new V8 with Audi. Ingolstadt's had first dibs on the 4.0-litre V8 in the new S8, but essentially the same engine will from 2012 power the Continental family, including the GT coupe, GTC convertible and Flying Spur saloon. In the fullness of time, it could also power the Bentley SUV mooted for launch by mid-decade.
What else do we know about Bentley's new V8?
Just looking at the Audi 4.0 V8 TFSI tells us plenty about what to expect about Bentley's version.
Although the two will be tuned separately, the basic building blocks are bound to be the same. So expect to see the cylinder deactivation technology on future Bentleys.
Cylinders two, three, five and eight are deactivated at part load, essentially turning the V8 into a V4 at lower speeds to save fuel. The direct fuel injection is shut off during deactivation, so air trapped in the cylinders contains no fuel.
So Bentley's building a Prius?
Hardly. Audi claims the V8 boosts combined fuel economy by around 6%, with a drop in CO2 of between 10-12g/km. So we're hardly knocking on the door of hybrid purity here.
But don't forget the Continental has only been available with W12 power to date. Lopping off four cylinders and downsizing the swept capacity will do plenty to make the Conti family cleaner, less thirsty and more affordable.
Bentley is likely to use the same acoustic tuning system as the Audi to avoid the engine sounding rough in four-cylinder mode. Active engine mounts are powered by electro-magnets to synchronise with the engine's natural vibration frequencies to cancel them out. And an inaudible signal is broadcast by the hi-fi on board to counter the low drone you'd otherwise hear when in four-pot mode.
Judging by the noise in this video clip, the new V8 won't sound bad at the top end, either.
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