The Elites: Bentley and Rolls-Royce in Geneva (photos)
The British brands Bentley and Rolls-Royce represent the epitome of automotive luxury. And even though both brands are now owned by German automakers, the coachwork is still the finest available in a car.
Bentley doesn't have a reputation for environmental consciousness, but it makes a stab in that direction with the Continental Supersports. This flex-fuel car can run ethanol and gasoline blends, without sacrificing performance. A sensor determines if an ethanol blend is being used, and remaps the engine software accordingly, preserving its horsepower figure of 621 and its 590 pound-feet of torque.
Along with using ethanol blended fuel to reduce CO2 emissions, Bentley cut the weight by 243 pounds over the standard Continental model. The car retains its high performance, with its 6-liter V-12 engine getting the car to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds and reaching a top speed of 204 mph.
Although the Continental Supersports is a big car, it's just a two-seater. Bentley saved some weight by doing away with a rear seat. The interior shows Bentley luxury with thick leather and real metal surfaces.
Rolls-Royce is slated to produce a new model to add to its small but exclusive line-up in 2010, and the 200EX is a look at what that new car might be. Much smaller than the Phantom, it looks almost like a conventional sedan, especially as the grille is de-emphasized, mounted as an inset at the front of the hood. Rolls-Royce specifies a newly developed V-12 engine for the 200EX.
Although not as grand in scale as the Phantom, the 200EX still displays the Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament. Also note that the RR logo is red, the original color, rather than black. The logo was changed to black in 1910 after Charles Rolls died in a biplane accident. Rolls-Royce seems on the verge of ending 100 years of mourning.
The interior gets the same quality treatment as the Phantom, with leather from bulls, chosen because of its thickness, and wood with a uniform grain. The infotainment system, like the engine, is sourced from parent company BMW, but seems to have been individualized for Rolls-Royce with a new controller and on-screen interface.