Hint: it won't be a traditional sedan.
We recently learned why there won't be a Bentley Mulsanne successor: not enough customers are interested in buying one. The ultra-luxury brand, for the first time in its century-long history, will soon no longer have a big sedan serving as its flagship. That role was previously filled by the Mulsanne and CEO Adrian Hallmark has made clear that he doesn't view the Bentley Flying Spur as a real Mulsanne successor because of its higher sales rate.
A flagship is also something of a halo model with relatively limited production numbers compared to the rest of a brand's lineup. That's what makes it special. That's why the ultra-wealthy shell out serious money to have one. So what will the new Bentley flagship be?
Car and Driver recently chatted with Hallmark over the phone (read: coronavirus) where it was confirmed the marque is preparing a new ultra-luxury SUV as its new flagship.
"Our ambition is to fill that price space for sure," Hallmark said. "It will not be a sports car; we will not build sports cars. SUVs were 47 percent of our sales last year. If you look at the segment below us, it's about 50 percent. So the clear indication is that both premium-car buyers and luxury-car buyers now see SUVs as being far more attractive."
The Bentley Bentayga, of course, is the SUV that Hallmark is referring to, and as the sales numbers suggest, SUVs are the future of high-status. More than likely, Bentley will launch a new plug-in hybrid SUV slotted above the Bentayga. Although not a direct Mulsanne replacement, this unnamed and, so far, not officially confirmed vehicle will be the next flagship.
But what about the also upcoming all-electric model, Bentley's first-ever EV? Hallmark aims to still have it on sale by 2025 but because EV sales in general pale in comparison to SUV numbers, it won't be the flagship. Bentley realizes there's more money to be made with a new PHEV SUV instead. Assuming all goes to plan, this new SUV won't arrive until after the EV.