Share on Facebook
by Jay Traugott
The Bentley Turbo R was a catalyst model for the brand because it deviated away from the luxury cruiser with a greater focus on road handling.
Bentley is an automaker that's been known as a symbol of premium luxury in the purest British sense since it was first founded back in 1919. It's certainly had its share of ups and downs both financially and in terms of overall reliability throughout its long history, but has always remained true to the spirit of high-performance and luxury. From the famous "Bentley Boys" of the 1920s to the fictional character James Bond drives in the original novels, Bentley is now a part of the Volkswagen Group, which ironically is German.
But has this new ownership caused Bentley to deviate away from its roots? A small minority of original purists may say just that but the majority of the industry will certainly state that Bentley is better than ever today. This is due to VW Group's financial stability, top-notch engineering and its ability to find the right people to manage its ever-growing list of brands. And just as Bentley announced this past week that it would soon reveal its all-new Flying Spur sedan, we thought it'd be interesting to take a look back at a Bentley sedan from almost 30 years ago.
The Turbo R was first launched in 1985 and like any other Bentley, it was a high-performance machine powered by a big V8 engine. It replaced the Mulsanne Turbo as the more performance-oriented model in Bentley's lineup. However, Bentley originally gave the Turbo R the Mulsanne's turbocharged engine but the suspension was retuned and wider tires on alloy wheels were added in order to enhance its handling abilities. In fact, "R" was a reference to "road holding", marking a new era for Bentley as it knew that it would be unable to survive on only building large sedans for an aging demographic.
Bentley needed to attract younger and more affluent buyers. During this time, BMW's M series lineup was heating up, specifically with the M5. Other German brands were also jumping into building large performance sedans of their own. But the Bentley prestige remained and this is where the Turbo R stepped beautifully into the picture. Instead of simply being a powerful cruiser, Bentley's engineering director at the time demanded a 50 percent increase in roll stiffness instead of the originally proposed 10 percent. In order to accomplish this, anti-roll bar rates were increased by 100 percent up front and 60 percent out back. Damping was also increased.
Further engineering tweaks were done to the rear suspension that helped to reduce too much movement while cornering. The Turbo R wasn't on par with the likes of the M5 in terms of overall refinement, but it was a big step forward for Bentley. Power output was also solid, with the 6.75-liter V8 producing 295 horsepower and 487 lb-ft of torque. A couple of years after its launch, the Turbo R was outfitted with anti-lock brakes and a new fuel injection system. The interior was given new sport seats in yet another effort to add a sportier flavor. Initially offered with a three-speed automatic transmission, this was later upgraded to a four-speed unit in 1991.
In 1995, an upgraded Turbo R was launched with changes made to the fuel injection system and some exterior design updates. However, Bentley dropped the model in 1998 when it was replaced by the even sportier Turbo RT. This 1992 Turbo R is actually a rare find because it's the long wheel base version. It has only 46,000 original miles with absolutely zero rust. All of the leather and wood work is also in excellent condition as well as the electronics. It's being offered for $23,500. Photos courtesy of menradmercedesbenz.