Bentley isn’t exactly known for lightweight design – but the British luxury brand has set its sights on slashing unsprung mass.
Announced overnight, it will soon start offering a set of 22-inch carbon-fibre wheels on the Bentayga SUV.
Unlike the carbon-fibre wheels offered on Ferrari and Ford, the Bentley units haven’t come from Carbon Revolution in Geelong, Australia.
Instead, they’re the result of a five-year collaboration between Bentley’s bespoke Mulliner division, and Italian company Bucci Composites.
Why bother with lightweight wheels on a 2.0-tonne luxury SUV?
Each wheel shaves 6kg compared to a standard unit, which cuts unsprung mass for sharper handling. Bentley says when they whack into an obstacle that would shatter an aluminium wheel, the carbon wheels instead maintain their structural integrity.
Bentley also says the stiffness of the wheels means you’ll see less tyre wear.
The wheels are manufactured by cutting carbon cloth into pre-determined shapes, and then stacking them and heating them in a mould to create a 3D ‘preform’.
Those preforms are put into a larger mould, and are injected with resin and hardener. The cured wheel is then removed from the mould, machined, and polished to give it a finish worthy of a Bentley.
Bentley says the wheels have been ticked off by TUV, the notoriously exacting German vehicle standards body, and have survived a torture test on the Nurburgring.
The wheels are being pitched as a logical extension of Bentley’s extensive range of carbon options, which includes interior trim pieces and exterior highlights.
Ford was the first to offer carbon wheels on a production car with its Shelby GT350R Mustang, while Ferrari followed by offering them as an option on the 488 Pista.
Both sets of wheels were developed by Australian company Carbon Revolution.