Rolls-Royce's CEO will call it an Audi A8 in drag, but the new Conti looks mighty fine indeed.
Let’s get those numbers over with:
- The GT’s 6.0-liter biturbo W12 engine has been upgraded to produce 626 hp (466 kW) and 664 lb-ft (897 Nm)
- The car gets 0-62 mph (100 kph) out of the way in 3.7 seconds
- Top speed is an impressive 207 mph (333 kph)
- Power is transferred to the road through a dual-clutch eight-speed auto ‘box for the first time
Bentley is certainly confident about its new car: CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer describes the Continental GT as the "pinnacle" of the British manufacturer’s engineering and design achievements. We can think of a few manufacturers who might disagree, but he goes on to say, "we are the world leader in luxury mobility and our products and services define new luxury in the automotive world."
Bentley has tried hard to mix state-of-the-art technology with the sort of traditional effects that its customers demand. For example, the wood veneer of the dashboard revolves James-Bond-in-Goldfinger-style to reveal a 12.3-inch touchscreen or a set of three analog dials that give information about the car. Unlike 007’s car, this one also comes with Apple CarPlay as standard.
Thanks to a new 48-volt mild-hybrid system from parent company Volkswagen, the Continental GT uses stop-start, coasting, and cylinder shutdown to cut down on fuel consumption where possible. In conjunction with the new eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, the new GT’s fuel consumption is 23.2 mpg on the European cycle versus the 19.9 mpg of the old model. The 278 g/km CO2 emissions (try not to think about it) represent a 16-percent reduction on the previous generation. The newly developed exhausts have electronically controlled valves on them to adapt the sound for different driving conditions.
Bentley has also developed a new active four-wheel-drive system that replaces the old traditional 60/40 rear-to-front split and instead monitors driving conditions constantly to send power where it’s needed (though it's meant to send power to the rear wheels as much as possible, says the company).
The steering now features electrical assist with variable rack ratio – Bentley says that its new system provides increased feedback for the driver while smoothing out some of the disturbances in the road. We’ll remain skeptical until trying the car, but it’s a brave move from a company that has always placed a strong emphasis on the sporting potential of the Continental GT despite marketing it as a strict grand tourer.
The new air suspension runs off the 48V system, and aims to differentiate more between the stiffer sport modes and plusher comfort settings. Electronically adjustable dampers also help with the ride, and Bentley has tried to keep unsprung weight to a minimum in the new car by constructing the axles out of lightweight aluminium.
As ever, the front brakes are larger than those at the rear of the Continental GT to cover the significant weight of the 12-cylinder engine. The front discs gain 15 millimeters on the new car to take them to 420 millimeters diameter.
'Virtually Unlimited' Options
When it comes to the look and feel of the car, Bentley says that its customization options for the new Continental GT are virtually unlimited – even before the company gets into the bespoke approach for its more discerning customers, it offers a wide range of options for Continental GT customers. The standard range alone consists of 17 exterior paint colors, with up to 70 hues available in the extended range. There are also 15 carpet options, 8 different handcrafted veneers for the interior (with a further 4 dual-veneer options) and 15 choices of interior trim hide, which means that customers are able to specify their own choice of luxury finish.
The Continental GT rides on 21-inch wheels as standard, but if you insist on something a little flashier there are 22-inch rims available too – either lightweight forged alloys or something a little more hand-finished.
Two tech packs are available as options from launch – City Specification for urban journeys and Touring Specification for long-distance driving. The former includes hands-free boot opening, pedestrian warning, traffic sign recognition, and city braking systems, as well as a top-view camera. The Touring Specification pack, meanwhile, offers adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, active lane assist, a head-up display, night vision with infrared camera, and pre-sense braking.
Bentley says that its demanding test and development program saw the Continental GT going through cold-climate testing in polar areas, hot-weather testing in America, and durability testing on tough roads in South Africa, as well as tests in the Middle East, China, and Europe. Over a million kilometers were covered during the proving process.
Somehow we doubt that any of the cars Bentley plans to sell will be forced to cover such harsh distances, but it’s reassuring to know that your luxury tourer has been over-engineered. No word on prices yet, but with the car set to debut at the Frankfurt show in September, keep checking back at Motor1.com for all of the latest information.