Bentley has revealed the all-new Continental GT, the definitive Grand Tourer. Into its third generation, the Bentley Continental GT, the most popular model for the Brand, comes with spirited, focused performance with handcrafted luxury and cutting-edge technology. The official debut is set for the Frankfurt Motor Show, from 12 – 24 September.
In looks, the New Continental GT is based on a bold new vision that is unmistakably Bentley. The all-new body and materials save more than 80 kg over the previous Continental W12 body. While the Continental GT retains the classic elegance that made its forebear so popular, the form of the new car is more sculptural and sharply defined and takes much of its inspiration from the critically acclaimed EXP 10 Speed 6 concept car.
To allow for such a bold reimagining of the Continental GT, the aluminium skin has been crafted using Super Formed technology. Additionally, the Continental GT is the first production car ever to have an entire body side made from the Super Formed process.
The Continental GT’s profile is longer and lower due in part to the positioning of the front wheels 135 mm further forward, which in turn allows the bonnet to be extended and the nose to be lowered. However, the key signature lines of the original Continental still dominate, with the ‘power line’ travelling from the headlights to the muscular rear haunch. From the rear, the car is a radical styling departure, with the taillights now shaped into ellipses, reflecting the silhouette of the exhaust tail pipes below them.
The lighting on the Continental GT uses the latest LED Matrix technology, but it is the design of the head lights that truly sets them apart. Inspired by the finest cut-crystal glasses, the internal surfaces are transparent with sharply defined edges that catch the light like a diamond. To complete the exterior, 21-inch wheels comes standard, with two styles available, and the optional 22-inch lightweight, forged wheels or the other option, hand-finished with a twisted polished finish.
At launch, there are 17 colors available along with a limited extended range of colors and a full bespoke color.
The interior of the new Continental GT showcases Bentley’s unrivalled expertise in the authentic use of materials, from the highest-quality natural leathers, to rare, sustainably sourced veneers, including Koa, Bentley’s newest veneer, and hand-polished chrome details. For the first time, unique dual-veneer options are offered. Over 10 square meters of wood are used in each Continental GT, and it takes nine hours to create and fit the wooden inlays by hand.
The exquisitely styled dashboard of the new Continental GT is sculpted by long, flowing wings that mirror the shape of the Bentley badge. A floating leather top flows seamlessly to the doors. The center console is paired to the lower fascia, and can be specified in a new technical finish that is inspired by the delicate mechanical surfacing inside the finest automatic Swiss watches, known as Côtes de Genève.
New types of luxurious haptic finishes adorn the interior of the Continental GT for greater sensory, as well as visual, enjoyment. In some areas, pillow knurling replaces the traditional mechanical knurling, for a softer, more refined feel on switches and controls, while diamond knurling adds a luxurious touch using a detailed three-dimensional faceted surface. Other highlights include the iconic Bullseye vents, bezels and other primary control rotaries, bronze inserts between surfaces on the primary controls, 20-way adjustable seats, smooth center panels and bolsters that retain the signature Bentley quilting. A new, unique quilt is also available: called a ‘diamond in diamond’ quilt, the effect is of a floating quilted surface in a sea of leather, which is extraordinarily soft to touch.
A choice of three audio systems is offered in the new Continental GT. The standard system features 10 speakers and 650 Watts, while a Bang & Olufsen 1,500 W, 16-speaker system with illuminated speaker grilles is aimed at lifestyle-oriented customers. The new Bang & Olufsen installation benefits from the first automotive application of the BeoSonic system, a new way for tone setting with a simple, intuitive one-touch user interface. Third option is the Naim 2,200 W, 18-speaker system with Active Bass Transducers built into the front seats; it offers eight sound modes. To improve sound, laminated acoustic glass is used for the windscreen and side windows, resulting in a nine-decibel reduction in exterior noise ingress versus the outgoing model.
Behind the wheel, the technological advancements in the new Continental GT are striking. The driver-orientated instrument panel is now fully digital and configurable by the driver. In addition, there’s the innovative and industry-first Bentley Rotating Display. At first glance there appears to be no screen in the centre of the dashboard. Instead, the veneer flows uninterrupted across the dashboard, while a thin chrome bezel behind the steering wheel surrounds a digital instrument display. When the engine start button is pressed, however, the veneer in the middle of the dashboard glides silently forward and rotates to reveal Bentley’s largest-ever touchscreen, a 12.3-inch retina-quality digital MMI display, elegantly designed by Bentley with a customer-configurable home screen with three windows able to display the driver’s preferred functions, for example, navigation, media, connectivity funstions and telephone.
The third side on the Bentley Rotating Display reveals three elegant analogue dials displaying outside temperature, a compass and chronometer. Such an innovative use of traditional elements underscores Bentley’s unique commitment to the past and the future, and offers customers the choice of digital or analogue display or clean, calm cabin.
At the heart of the New Continental GT is the enhanced version of Bentley’s peerless 6.0-liter, W12 TSI engine. The huge powerplant pumps 635 PS (626 bhp) and 900 Nm (664 lb.ft.) of torque, and accelerates the new Continental GT to 100 km/h in 3.7 seconds, and on to a top speed of 333 km/h. The engine is paired to an dual-clutch eight-speed transmission. At the same time, the new engine utilises Start-Stop technology and, in Bentley’s advanced application, coasting is also made possible. The engine rests not only when the vehicle is stationary but also at near-to-stop speeds. Bentley’s Variable Displacement system shuts down half of the engine under defined conditions. Intake and exhaust valves, fuel injection and ignition are all shut down on defined cylinders, with the engine running as a six-cylinder for improved efficiency.
A dedicated Sport Launch mode delivers maximum acceleration through careful clutch pressure sensing and pre-loading when a race-style start is required by the driver.
Significantly, a new dual-mass flywheel replaces the torque converter, to dampen out the oscillations of the driveline and provide a fittingly smooth power delivery for luxury touring.
A new Active All-Wheel-Drive System replaces the traditional 40:60 power delivery split between front and rear wheels respectively, instead varying the front-to-rear torque split dependent upon the driving situation. The vehicle will use rear-wheel drive as much as possible during normal driving for optimum efficiency and dynamic performance.
Based on the conditions and the driver’s behavior, the system will send drive to the front axle as required. This reduces the understeer effect from fixed all-wheel drive, as well as increasing driver engagement for those who revel in the dynamic attributes of the Continental GT.
The third generation of Continental GT features Bentley Dynamic Ride, an advanced 48-volt roll control system for unrivalled car control. The system controls and adjusts the electronic actuators on the anti-roll bar of each axle and so improves handling and ride comfort, as well as making the car feel lighter and more precise. Furthermore, air suspension on the new Continental GT is revised and uses three-chamber air springs which give the car 60 per cent more air volume in the softest setting than the previous model.
With the Electric Power-Assisted Steering (EPAS), the driver gets much improved feedbacks. The steering system features a variable rack ratio, allowing increased response with higher steering angles to aid manoeuverability whilst maintaining excellent stability at high speeds. The introduction of EPAS also allows the Continental GT to be offered with a wide range of Driver Assistance features including Active Lane Assist, Traffic Jam Assist and Park Assist.
Another key feature is the latest-generation Continuous Damping Control (CDC), which constantly adjusts the damper forces to optimise comfort. The system continually measures the velocity and distance between the wheels and the body at each corner and also adjusts the air volume in the springs if necessary to ensure the optimum balance of comfort and handling. Both front and rear axles are of a lightweight aluminium construction, with multilink design at the front and rear.
The brakes, as always on the Continental GT, are bigger on the front axle, with a 15 mm increase in size to 420 mm to match the increased performance. Lastly, the exhaust tail pipes have also been revised, and now have an adaptive valve for greater tuning potential.