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Frankfurt show: Bentley outs Continental GT

By the dozen: The new W12 engine helps the new Bentley Continental GT crack the 0-100 sprint in 3.7 seconds.

Bentley reveals third-generation Continental GT with fresh tech, new engine

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Bentley logo30 Aug 2017

By TIM NICHOLSON

BENTLEY has uncovered its all-new third-generation Continental GT featuring an enhanced version of the famed W12 engine that will be paired, for the first time, with a dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Revealed by the Volkswagen Group-owned British marque ahead of its Frankfurt motor show debut next month, the Continental GT ushers in a number of changes under the skin and in the plush new cabin that features dramatic tech upgrades over the outgoing second-gen car that was launched in 2011.

Timing for the Australian market is yet to be confirmed, but expect the local showroom debut next year after a European rollout later this year.

So far Bentley has released details only of the W12-powered coupe, keeping its powder dry for an expected V8 version, a convertible and a plug-in hybrid that is rumoured to have electric drive paired with a V6 engine.

The British designed, engineered and built Continental GT uses an all-new 6.0-litre twin-turbocharged W12 petrol engine linked to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, replacing the eight-speed torque converter auto from the outgoing car.

Bentley claims the new W12 is “the most advanced 12-cylinder engine in the world”, with outputs of 467kW and 900Nm – up from 434kW/720Nm – helping the two-door four-seat cruiser sprint from 0-100km/h in just 3.7 seconds on the way to a 333km/h top speed.

The 0-100km/h time easily eclipses its uber-luxury rival, the Rolls-Royce Wraith that covers the same distance in 4.4s, but it matches the time of the V12-powered BMW 760Li xDrive and outpaces the V12 Mercedes-AMG S65 Coupe that completes the dash in 4.1s.

A less powerful version of the W12 will also surface next year in fellow VW Group brand Audi’s new-generation A8 luxury sedan, with outputs of 430kW and 800Nm.

Emissions wise, the W12 is Euro 6, Phase 2-compliant, with fuel economy rated at 12.2 litres per 100km on the European combined cycle – down from 14.2L/100km in the outgoing version – while CO2 emissions have improved by 16 per cent to 278g/km.

The powertrain employs idle-stop system with a coasting function, while Bentley’s Variable Displacement system shuts down half of the engine under specific conditions, allowing the W12 to run on six cylinders for better fuel efficiency.

Bentley says the new dual-clutch transmission provides “impressively quick gearshifts”, with shift times variable depending on the driving mode selected.

The Conti also features a Sport Launch mode for maximum acceleration from take-off.

Bentley’s new ‘Active’ all-wheel-drive system uses rear-wheel drive as much as possible in normal driving conditions, but can send drive to the front axle depending on the conditions and driver behaviour. This system replaces the 40:60 front/rear split of the previous model.

The GT also gains the 48-volt Bentley Dynamic Ride system which controls the electronic actuators of the anti-roll bar on each axle to help improve ride and handling as well as make the coupe feel lighter, according to Bentley.

Bentley’s Drive Dynamics Control function has Comfort, Bentley or Sport modes that modify the suspension, engine, transmission and other chassis systems accordingly. The driver can also personalise their dynamic settings.

Also aboard are a revised air suspension set-up with 60 per cent more air volume than before, a new adjustable damping system and an electric power-assisted steering system with a variable rack ratioDriver assistance features such as Park Assist, Traffic Jam Assist and Active Lane Assist are included.

The evolutionary design of the new model takes inspiration from the EXP 10 Speed 6 concept from the 2015 Geneva motor show, appearing most evident at the rear with the new cut-crystal-effect LED tail-lights.

Bentley has not provided dimensions, but it says the GT has a longer profile thanks to the positioning of the front wheels 135mm closer to the front of the car.

The front end retains the familiar quad headlights – this time using LED Matrix technology – as well as a similar lower apron and grille as the outgoing car, but with a smoother overall look.

The ‘power line’ running from the headlights to the rear haunches also carries over.

Two styles of 21-inch wheels will be offered as standard in Europe, with 22-inch lightweight forged wheels available as an option.

Seventeen exterior paint colours will be available, with a limited extended range from launch, as well as the full colour-matching options as part of Bentley’s Mulliner bespoke arm.

Inside, the Continental is all new, with a long, flowing dashboard integrating with the doors.

A 12.3-inch digital MMI display – Bentley’s largest touchscreen – is hidden beneath a classic wooden veneer at the top of the centre stack and appears when the engine start button is pressed. The third side of the rotating display houses three analogue dials displaying the outside temperature, a compass and a chronometer.

The all-digital instrument panel is configurable by the driver and has an old-school analogue look. Sat-nav and infotainment information can also be displayed on the instrument panel.

High-quality natural leathers, rare but sustainably sourced veneers, hand-polished chrome and other materials feature, and Bentley says each GT has more than 10 square metres of wood taking nine hours to hand craft and fit.

Apple CarPlay is standard, as is real-time traffic information, Google point of interest search and Private eCall which provides immediate access to emergency services when required.

Pillow knurling replaces some of Bentley’s traditional mechanical knurling for softer switches and controls, with the company using haptic finishes for a more modern feel.

Twenty-way adjustable seats set a new industry standard, according to Bentley, and they feature cooling, heating and massage functions, as well as the company’s signature quilted trim that is offered with a new ‘diamond in diamond’ quilt effect.

Three audio on offer range from a 10-speaker 650W Bang & Olufsen unit, to a 16-speaker 1500W unit with illuminated speaker grilles and a flagship Naim 2200W 18-speaker system.

As expected, various options are available through Bentley’s Mulliner bespoke arm, including 15 carpet choices, eight hand-crafted veneers and 15 interior trim hides.

Two tech packs will be offered from launch, including a City Specification with hands-free boot opening, pedestrian warning, traffic-sign recognition, city braking systems and a top-view camera.

The Touring Specification pack includes adaptive cruise control with traffic-jam assist, active lane assist, a head-up display, night vision with an infrared camera and pre-sense braking.

Bentley Motors chairman and chief executive Wolfgang Durheimer said the new Continental GT celebrated the brand’s past while introducing innovative technologies.

“Bentley has been at the forefront of luxury grand touring for nearly one hundred years,” he said. “The new, third-generation Continental GT is the pinnacle of our design and engineering achievements and marks the next step in Bentley’s journey.

“We are the world leader in luxury mobility and our products and services define new luxury in the automotive world. The new Continental GT encapsulates our desire to innovate as well as celebrate our heritage and take the Bentley ownership experience to the next, unparalleled level.”

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