1 May 2011
By LUC BRITTEN
Bentley's second-generation Continental GT luxury four-seater coupe underwent a host of engineering and design improvements including a reworked chassis, hi-tech cabin features and higher outputs from its twin-turbocharged W12 engine.
Like the Porsche 911's evolutionary development, the Bentley's formula was refined but largely unchanged over the outgoing model. At the GT's core was a more powerful 6.0-litre twin-turbo W12 engine, up 11kW to 423kW at 6000rpm with torque boosted by 50Nm to 700Nm – and available from just 1700rpm.
Drive continued to all four wheels via an uprated six-speed ZF ‘Quickshift’ automatic transmission and a new Torsen centre differential providing a 40:60 front/rear torque split – as seen on Bentley's high-performance Supersports models.
Transmission shift times were halved to 200 milliseconds, while the revised gearbox could also deliver double downshifts, such as fourth to second.
With a 65kg weight reduction (to 2320kg) and a more aerodynamic shape (0.33Cd), the Continental could accelerate from 0-100km/h in 4.6 seconds, making it two-tenths quicker than its predecessor, on its way to a top speed of 318km/h, the same as before.
Also like the Supersports models, the engine was revised to run on ethanol blends at up to E85. However, the on petrol the W12 racked up 16.5L/100km on the combined EU cycle, 25.4L/100km in urban conditions and 11.4L/100km on the highway. CO2 emissions were rated at 384g/km.
Dimensions were largely unchanged for the 4806mm-long GT, but overall width increased to 2227mm to accommodate wider tracks – up 41mm at the front and 48mm at the rear.
Other chassis highlights included the use of redesigned front suspension uprights made from hollow-but-strong ‘cast-forged’ aluminium, plus a redesigned anti-roll bar and retuned spring and damper settings.
A revised electronic stability control system was claimed to provide additional traction, the variable damping system was overhauled, and changes to the ZF-type Servotronic steering aimed to reduce steering friction and deliver better road feel.
The GT's body panels were created using a high-tech vacuum-forming process first used on Bentley's Mulsanne flagship, enabling seamless-looking complex surfaces that would otherwise require metal to be hand-beaten.