Bentley Continental GT
From Bentley press: Featuring a 6-litre, 12 cylinder, twin-turbocharged, engine with more than 500bhp driving all four wheels through a paddle-operated, six speed automatic gearbox, the Continental GT offers true supercar performance combined with the interior space, versatility and ease of ownership to make it not merely viable as an everyday car, but a natural for the role. In this respect as well as many others, Bentley believes the Continental GT to be unique.
The Continental GT is being designed and engineered by Bentley at Crewe and will be manufactured there in all-new facilities that combine state of the art technologies with the unique hand finishing and attention to detail that have been the hallmark of all cars to wear the winged 'B'. It goes on sale in the second half of 2003 and will bring the prospect of Bentley ownership to a wider audience of discerning enthusiasts than ever before. And while the Continental GT is a Bentley from bumper to bumper, the role of the company's Volkswagen parent can scarcely be ignored.
The key to honouring Bentley's design past without simultaneously creating an inappropriately 'retro' car, was to take the design philosophy that inspired cars such as the Bentley Speed Six of 1928 and the 1952 R-type Continental and use it in an entirely contemporary context. 'What you are looking for,' says van Braeckel, 'are the things that gave those cars such presence and a stance that shouted 'Bentley' at anyone who looked at them. It translated perfectly from the pre to the post-war era and so it does from there to the present day. Understand that and you can forget about the past.'
Bentley's design philosophy for the Continental GT can be quantified as follows: the car must have a short front overhang and an overtly dominant bonnet expressed by the unusually large distance between the front axle line and the A-pillar.
The W12 formation engine was a natural choice for Bentley. Not only did it have the potential to deliver these objectives, it also boasted the incredibly compact dimensions required to realise the Continental GT's packaging requirements.
Using two turbochargers on an engine with two banks of cylinders has many advantages over the old, single turbo method. For a start, because there are two of them, each turbo is much smaller than would be a single unit designed for the same purpose. This means they have less inertia and therefore accelerate up to and back down from operating speed much more quickly, minimising turbo-lag. Two turbochargers also means the car's catalytic converters can be sited next to the exhaust manifold where they heat up extremely quickly, offering greatly reduced exhaust emissions, particularly when the engine is cold.