As Bentley works on the next generation of its "mainstream" Continental models in the next few years, new powertrains and weight reduction will be part of the program. At the Geneva Motor Show last week, CEO Franz-Josef Paefgen announced that an all-new powertrain would appear in Bentleys by 2012, but didn't give any indication as to the nature of it. Since Bentley is part of the Volkswagen group, diesel would be an obvious choice with its high torque being a good match for the big British luxury machines. All of the current Continental variants are powered by a twin-turbo W12 with VW roots.
Another option would be some sort of plug-in hybrid. The high price of Bentleys could more easily absorb the cost of batteries and hybrid hardware. The hybrid system being developed within VW and Porsche is modular enough that it could be adapted to the larger vehicles. Adding plug-in capability with a lithium ion battery could allow the Continental to operate in silently at lower speeds on electricity.
The Continental SuperSports that debuted in Geneva actually started as weight reduction project before flex-fuel capability was added to the engine. The next gen Continental is expected to drop about 400 lbs through increased aluminum and high strength steel.