► Juicy gossip from the CAR grapevine
► Here's what we've been hearing this month
► The world's gone SUV mad
Bentley should smash the 15,000 units barrier next year, thanks to the Bentayga SUV’s 3600 projected sales. While it launches with a W12 , we hear three other powerplants will grow volume further: 4.0 V8 petrol and diesels, plus a plug-in hybrid mated to a V6 or V8.
In 2016, the facelifted Mulsanne arrives, with an enhanced grille, restyled headlamps and bumper intakes. Just 50 to 100 Gran Cabrios may follow in 2017.
But the main event is the next-gen Continental GT, to be unveiled in 2017. Adopting the Porsche-engineered MSB platform does wonders for the handling, with its front/mid-engined layout. Weight, rigidity and crash protection all improve. The engine line-up will grow with the Bentayga’s diesel and plug-in options. It should be a looker too, styled by Luc Donckerwolke, who we hear will resurface at Hyundai-Kia to replace Peter Schreyer in time.
And what of the beautiful Speed 6 concept? The plan is to launch the two-seater in 2019, powered by a 600bhp twin-turbo V8. A roadster would follow, then the next twinkle in the brand’s eye: a Macan-sized SUV.
Talking of SUVs, JLR’s Special Vehicles unit will also make more hardcore Land Rovers, to complement its go-faster Range Sport SVR. They’ll be badged SVX, and whispers suggest eagle-eyed Bond fans will be able to spot the badge on a Defender in the new Spectre film.
Finally, it’s an all-out Astra offensive at Vauxhall. Does that mean the red-hot VXR is imminent? Sounds like a successor to the 280bhp hooligan hasn’t been signed off yet. A cooking Astra, with a 2.0-litre turbo turned up to around 250bhp to bother Seat’s lower-powered Leon Cupra, is nailed on for 2016. Expect it to draw the GSi badge out of retirement.