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By Drew Johnson

The Porsche Panamera didn’t initially win over critics with its somewhat awkward five-door styling, but the car apparently gelled with buyers as it has solidified itself as Porsche’s best-selling model. Taking note of the Panamera’s success – particularly in the U.S. – Bentley is said to be considering a five-door sedan of its own.

According to Autocar, Bentley is seriously considering a five-door version of its next-generation Continental range. The new body style won’t be a replacement for any of the Continental’s current offerings, though, as Bentley will continue to produce coupe, convertible and sedan variants.

Italian designer Touring Superleggera has already produced a three-door version of the Continental – dubbed the Flying Star – but Bentley would likely opt for a five-door setup to allow for maximum practicality.

The next-generation Continental is expected to launch in 2012 in coupe form. However, if Bentley brass green light the five-door version of the luxury cruiser, the Porsche Panamera could have some serious competition soon thereafter.



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Report: Bentley considering five-door fastback to rival Porsche Panamera?

by Jonny Lieberman (RSS feed) on Jun 24th 2010 at 1:28PM

Those wacky Germans. They're always on the hunt for the next new niche and the second one of them discovers the next big thing in automotive packaging, the others dog pile on. The most obvious example is the Mercedes-Benz CLS – the so-called four-door coupe. Mercedes beat everyone to market with their swoopy, low-slung sedan. Then BMW did the CS Concept, Volkswagen launched the CC, Audi is readying the A7 and BMW will most likely put the four-door Gran Coupe Concept into production. Still not convinced? How about X3/Q5/GLK?

Now it looks as if Bentley is now looking to muscle in on Porsche's new niche, the five-door sport-luxury yacht, the Panamera. What's that you say, Bentley's British? Sure, in execution, but peel back the skin a bit and the Continental rides on a Volkswagen/Audi chassis – the Phaeton and last-gen A8 if you must know. Let's not forget that Bentley's president is named Franz-Josef Pfaegen and that he considers the Continental to be Bentley's, "911." That's 911 as in Porsche 911, not emergency/national tragedy. So yes, Bentley is as German as schweinebraten und hefeweizen.

In a conversation with the actually-British Autocar about the next generation Continental, a source within Bentley admitted that they're looking at adding a five-door Panamera-type hatchback to the super coupe, sedan and convertible line up. They feel there's growth potential in that particular body style. Bentley has been in rapid growth mode since Volkswagen rebooted the brand in 2003 by launching the Continental GT. Adding a five-door would only further expand the brand's appeal to the world's wealthier citizens.

Should Bentley build it? Why not? That said, it should also be building a three-door shooting brake version like Touring Superleggera's doing with the Flying Star. However, a five-door probably has a slightly larger audience. Additionally, if the new Bentley hatch is anywhere near as useful as the Porsche Panamera, owners will love the car. Besides, a Panamera-like Continental will be as close as we'll ever get to a twin-turbo W12, AWD Bentley station wagon. Bring it.



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