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Exclusive: Bentley GT revealed

The real thing: Bentley's new GT will go on sale in Australia late in 2003.

You've seen the black and white testing photo, now here's the new mid-size Bentley in all its production glory in colour

9 Jul 2002

YOU'RE looking at an Australian exclusive - the first photograph of the production-ready Bentley GT Coupe.

And the good news for local Bentley fans with as much as $400,000 burning a hole in their pocket is that the GT Coupe will be on-sale here before the end of 2003, just weeks after it goes on sale in Europe.

By then we should also know the car's name, which European press are tipping to be Continental.

The coupe is the first of three new Bentley's to be built from the new MSB (Mid-Size Bentley) platform. A sedan will follow by late 2004 at the earliest, then a convertible is expected after that.

This new family combined with traditional Bentley products is expected to drive the marque's worldwide sales to 9000 by 2005.

"I think we see a wider opportunity with Bentley to increase the ownership prospects within our customer base by providing them with a car which is truly still a Bentley but in a very different sector, explained Bentley Asia-Pacific managing director Derek Davies. "It's about widening the appeal of Bentley." Styled by Belgian Dirk van Braeckel, the GT Coupe combines many Bentley heritage styling cues within its smooth shape, including the large inner lights and mesh grille. It is a four-seater but Bentley has revealed little more about the interior.

We should see more of that and have a look at the rear of the car when it comes out from under the dust sheet at this September's Paris motor show.

More is known about the mechanicals as Bentley has already confirmed some technical details of the new car. It will be motivated by a 6.0-litre, twin turbocharged, W12-configuration engine with a power output in excess of 375kW, mated to all-wheel drive.

Bentley has targeted 0-100km/h acceleration of less than five seconds, as well as a top speed of more than 290km/h. Also confirmed has been the GT's use of multi-link rear suspension, double wishbones up front and the latest in electronic damping.

Other information released by Bentley confirms the GT will employ a new paddle-operated six-speed automatic gearbox with electronic stability control.

The platform and drivetrain are fundamentally similar to the Phaeton luxury car recently launched by Bentley owner Volkswagen, but Bentley insists much work has been done to individualise the car. For instance, the Phaeton's air springing is understood to have been replaced with conventional springs.

Evaluation and durability testing is now under way to produce what Bentley claims will be "one of the quickest, most thoroughly developed and advanced cars ever offered for sale to the general public by a car manufacturer".

"We are building up a healthy order book for the product through our dealers which we are monitoring as each week goes by," Mr Davies said.

"I am not at liberty to say how many, but we really are encouraged by the strength of demand which is evident with the deposits dealers are holding.

"As we start to build up the momentum, we would expect those numbers to grow."

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