Lighter, faster, shorter, more spacious, more luxurious and with more technology sums up the all-new, third generation Bentley Continental GT. It’s the first complete overhaul in the 14-year history of Bentley’s most successful model.
Due to hit UAE showrooms at the end of the year, wheels had an exclusive preview of the all-new Conti GT at the Crewe factory before the official images and details were released. Fresh from the ground up, the new Continental GT is based on the MSB platform co-developed with Porsche and shared with the Panamera.
Aside from the new 626bhp, 6.0-litre W12 bi-turbo engine introduced in the Bentayga, the GT also gets the SUV’s clever 48-volt Dynamic Ride System rear anti-roll suspension and an eight-speed, dual clutch automatic transmission that drives through active AWD.
The previous model’s 60:40 split Torsen diff has been replaced by a constantly variable unit that can transmit up to 1,000Nm of torque to the front wheels. A maximum of 38 per cent goes to the front in Comfort mode but it can still send another 400Nm forward if it detects too much understeer. Only 17 per cent of its torque goes to the front in Sport mode to maintain a rear drive feel.
Bentley claims it will get to 100kph in a Porsche-like 3.7 seconds and on to 333kph. The new-look Conti’s styling mimics the EXP10 Speed 6 concept from the 2015 Geneva motor show with a lower, wider stance and a concave tail featuring the word ‘Bentley’ as a badge for the first time. It has also shed 85kg with the extensive use of composite metals.
Speaking exclusively to wheels, Bob Teale, chief project manager, said, “We’ve used a lot of aluminium for the castings, extrusions and main structural nodes in addition to high strength steel for crash performance and we clad the outside in sculptured aluminium pressings.This has given us torsional stiffness of 34,000Nm per degree which would be like hanging 1.5 Continental GTs off the back, on the end of a one metre bar and you’d only see one degree in body deflection.”
The front axle has moved forward 135mm not only for better weight distribution but also to give it a more aggressive look. “We were able to use the 110mm longer wheelbase to maintain the height of the car, but also by widening each side by 25mm, we improved the stance, especially when combined with the reduced front overhang,” director of design, Stefan Sielaff told wheels.
The inside is a radical departure from previous Bentleys and differs from Bentayga, feeling lighter and more spacious despite maintaining the Bentley hallmarks of timber, leather and chrome.
Ambient mood lighting includes razor thin LED strips across the dash and down the doors into the rear where is imitates the outside’s fat, coke-bottle hips.
A new “diamond-in-diamond” interior pattern shows that handcraftsmanship hasn’t been neglected with exactly 712 stitches in each diamond using 2.8km of thread per car which over the full interior, consumes 12 per cent of its 10 leather hides.
Not content with just one timber veneer, buyers can now specify two on the dash and doors, split by a chrome strip, while a new 12.3-inch nav screen is hidden behind a clever panel that rotates to show either a trio of analogue dials or continue the clean timber look. Not surprisingly, the new Continental also includes the latest in self-driving features developed by sister firm Audi.
The previous GT sold 66,000 units but was desperately in need of a major overhaul. Bentley looks to have caught up in terms of technology, design, innovation and powertrains but the question remains as to whether the Continental GT will have surpassed its competitors on the road.