Bentley to enter the Paris-Dakar Rally – Sounds a bit daft, doesn’t it…? Like your Auntie dropping the knitting-sticks and taking up Bull-riding full-time… But in the case of Bentley’s situational outlook on parent-company VW’s radar, it doesn’t seem all that unlikely nor out-of-place. A few key (and historical) points to take into consideration:
1. Bentley is developing a new, gargantuan W12-motored 4×4 SUV based on a shared Audi/Porsche/VW platform that will see it rise to the cream of the price-crop when it’s unveiled in 2015 – and so it should be… It’s a Bentley for heaven’s sake. Yet, with all of this platform and technology sharing within the many halls of Poppa Veedub, a full-force rally attack utlising the Bentley badge could be considered perfect timing considering….
2. VW is re-focusing its sights on the WRC Rally stages now with a bespoke VW Polo to tackle it with. This means, in all likelihood, that the Touareg they’ve been successfully campaigning (and winning) with over the last few years or so (in the Dakar, etc) might be retired. In its place could be the new/next Bentley SUV which, as mentioned, will be based on a VW/Audi/Porsche platform yet badged as a Bentley… see how this is all working out…? Because…
3. Bentley has been here before… not long ago. Remember the 2003 Le Mans win with (from-out-of-nowhere) Bentley taking the chequered flag in the menacing British-racing-green Speed 8..? Said racecar was actually based rather extensively on the dominating Audi R8 race car… adorned with Bentley badges.
There we go – Brand engineering and exercising done with ease…!
Yet it does make one wonder how longtime Bentley employees and life-long devotees feel about the Bentley brand/name/heritage being utilised as a marketing exercise to prop-up and re-glitz the technologies and motorsport know-how that their parent company has already adopted and achieved prior successes with…? I’d feel like the middle/bottom kid in the family that eventually receives hand-me-downs from the siblings – it all works, but it was never really yours to begin with.