GENEVA -- Bentley will position next year's replacement for its Flying Spur sedan above the current model to create more differentiation to the AMG and Maybach versions of the Mercedes-Benz S class, CEO Adrian Hallmark said.
"That market has boomed, and we haven’t," Hallmark told Automotive News Europe at the sidelines of the Geneva auto show.
The current generation Flying Spur has lost out to Mercedes in particular, he said.
"Mercedes with AMG and Maybach has done a good job at repositioning the S class to give a very sporty and very premium character that goes beyond the base offer," Hallmark said.
The current Flying Spur costs between 132,800 pounds ($174,000) and 169,800 pounds in Bentley's UK home market, compared with the Mercedes S-class Maybach at 178,660 pounds and the top-end AMG S65 at 189,260 pounds.
Hallmark said Bentley has been pushing Flying Spur prices higher through options and special editions but wants to create more of a buffer with the S class.
"We want to get a lot more volume at the 200,000-pound price point. We’ve positioned it so you get a lot more for your money," he said.
Hallmark said Bentley "created the segment" when it launched the first Flying Spur in 2005.
The new Flying Spur suffered delays after Bentley was late in launching the new Continental GT coupe and convertible, Hallmark said.
The Flying Spur will use the same Porsche-developed MSB platform as the Continental GT. Getting Porsche’s sportier gearbox to work in a smooth enough way to satisfy Bentley customers was one reason for the delay.
The new Flying Spur will be offered with a plug-in hybrid, Hallmark said.
Bentley has said it will launch an electrified version of all its models by 2025. The first Bentley plug-in hybrid was the Bentayga Hybrid SUV, which has just gone on sale after a year’s delay.
The biggest market for the Flying Spur is the United States, followed by China, continental Europe and then the UK, Hallmark said.
The car is generally bought to be driven, rather to be chauffeured in or used as an ultraluxury taxi. "In the U.S. in particular the Flying Spur is a kind of daily cruiser," he said.