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First look: Bentley's GT stunner

Caught on film: The looks of the Bentley GT Coupe are captured for the first time as it undergoes cold weather testing.

Bentley reveals its new GT Coupe and promises stunning performance at the same time

11 Jun 2002

HERE it is: the first complete look at Bentley's GT coupe, to be launched internationally at the end of next year.

The first fruit to be borne from Volkswagen's ownership of the historic British brand - founded by Walter Owen Bentley in 1919 - the as yet unnamed $300,000-plus two-door will form the basis of a family of new Bentleys from 2004, including sedan and convertible models.

Due on sale Down Under almost immediately after its late-2003 release, the Bentley GT represents a radical departure in direction for the staid UK marque, which recently attracted attention for producing the one-off Bentley State Limousine to celebrate the Queen's Golden Jubilee.

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.

Bentley Motors has also revealed the first technical details of the vehicle that will face stiff competition from other supercars due in 2003, like Porsche's 5.5-litre V10-powered GT Carrera and the 6.0-litre V12 Ferrari F60.

"Unlike typical supercars it would be refined, comfortable and seat four people," reads the press release from Bentley Motors, which adds: "Unlike other large coupés, it would also be utterly thrilling to drive." More specifically, Bentley has confirmed its luxury two-plus-two coupe will be motivated by a 6.0-litre, twin turbocharged, W12-configuration engine with a power output in excess of 375kW.

Bentley admits the engine is a derivative of the W12 engine that will see service in Volkswagen's new Phaeton luxury car and the next Audi A8, but says it was designed and developed by Bentley and will also be built at Bentley's Crewe headquarters.

But the brand that returned to the Le Mans podium for the first time in 71 years in 2001 is less forthcoming about the engine's torque capabilities, saying only: "It will come as no surprise to those familiar with the Bentley approach to power delivery that it will be more than adequate for the job".

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 was the GT's use of multi-link rear suspension, double wishbones up front and the latest in electronic damping.

Other information released by Bentley today confirms the GT will employ a new paddle-operated six-speed automatic gearbox with electronic stability control and an all-wheel drivetrain - the first in Bentley's history.

The company says the latter was chosen as much for active safety reasons as for its advantages in "everyday usability".

The final design of Bentley's GT has been signed off and the car is expected to make its first public appearance at this weekend's Le Mans sports car race.

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".

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