Stunning, powerful, refined and technologically-advanced, the third-generation Continental GT is a masterpiece.
Bentley is calling it "the definitive Grand Tourer," and the all-new third-generation Bentley Continental GT appears to be exactly that. At the Conti's heart is an enhanced version of its 6.0-liter twin-turbo W12 that Bentley says is the most advanced 12-cylinder engine in the world. Using cutting-edge engine management technology, the new powertrain makes 300 million software calculations per second, producing 626 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque. We knew radical changes were coming, and that's proven to be the case.
Mated to a fast-shifting dual-clutch eight-speed transmission and using a dedicated Sport Launch mode, the Continental GT can sprint from 0-62 mph in 3.7 seconds en route to a top speed of 207 mph. The W12 TSI combines high-pressure direct fuel injection with low-pressure injection, which combine to optimize power delivery and maximize refinement. Bentley is using Start-Stop tech to rest the engine at stationary as well as at near-to-stop speeds, making coasting possible. Its Variable Displacement system enables the engine to run as a six-cylinder unit, while a new Active All-Wheel-Drive System varies the front-to-rear torque split. Rear-wheel drive will be the norm with drive sent to the front as required.
The engine has also been positioned further back in the car to improve weight distribution. As for the styling, there's plenty of the EXP 10 Speed 6 concept in there, with the all-new body shaving more than 80 kg over its predecessor. The aluminum skin is crafted using Super Formed tech, allowing for more complex, sharply defined lines and muscular sculpted haunches. The Conti GT is the first production car to have its entire body made utilizing the process that uses aluminum heated to 500 degrees Celsius. The front wheels have been shifted further forward creating a longer profile, and allowing for an extended hood and lowered nose.
The Conti's signature power line still dominates, running from the headlights to the rear fenders. Follow that round to the restyled rear and we see ellipse-shaped taillights that mirror the exhaust tailpipes below. Inspired by cut-crystal glass, both front and rear lights uses LED Matrix tech to stunning effect. 21-inch alloys come in a choice of two styles with optional hand-finished 22-inch lightweight alloys sporting a twisted polish finish. Inside, natural leather blends with sustainable veneers and chrome details, while ten square-meters of wood is used for the wooden inlays that take nine hours to create and fit by hand. But that's just the beginning.
The Bentley's dashboard mirror the wings of the Bentley badge with a floating leather top that flows to the doors. Buyers have the choice to have a unique surface applied to the center console. Inspired by Cotes de Geneve, a mechanical surfacing seen inside Swiss watches, the unique 3D finish is joined by new pillow and diamond knurling on the vents, bezels and control rotaries. Bronze inserts can also be found between surfaces, and a new 'diamond in diamond' quilt, where each of the inner diamonds are embroidered using 712 stitches, should give you a small sense of the craftsmanship and attention to detail that's gone into this car.
Laminated acoustic glass on the windscreen and side windows helps keep exterior noise to a minimum when enjoying one of the three sound systems available, including offerings from Bang & Olufsen and Naim, while getting a massage from the 20-way adjustable seats. A fully digital and configurable instrument panel sits behind the wheel displaying digital graphics designed to look three-dimensional, while an industry-first Bentley Rotating Display hides the 12.3-inch MMI display when not in use, the veneer flowing across the dashboard, only to glide forward and rotate upon firing up the GT.
The user interface should be instantly intuitive having been designed to replicate a mobile phone, while as a nod to the Bentley's heritage, three analogue dials display temperature, a compass and chronometer on the other face of the three-sided unit. As for the driving dynamics, the Conti GT gets Bentley Dynamic Ride, a 48-volt roll control system that adjusts and controls the electronic actuators on the anti-roll bars, improving handling and ride comfort, while making the car feel lighter and more precise. By providing variable torsional resistance, there's no compromise between body control and ride comfort. Lateral rolling forces can be instantly countered when cornering, ensuring maximum tire-to-road contact.
A revised air suspension uses three-chamber air springs resulting in 60 percent more air volume in the softest setting. The Bentley can now be tuned to deliver a range of settings, from sporting spring stiffness to luxury limousine refinement depending on the mode of Comfort, Sport and Bentley (that also modifies other chassis systems as well as the engine and gearbox). The new GT also features Electric Power-Assisted Steering (EPAS) with variable rack ratio and Continuous Damping Control that constantly adjusts air volume in the springs. A range of colors, carpets, veneers and leathers are offered with the new Conti.
Naturally, Mulliner is standing by to cater to the whims of buyers who want something totally bespoke. Two optional technology packages on offer include City Specification, adding hands-free boot opening and a top-view camera, and Touring Specification, including night vision with infrared camera and adaptive cruise control. We can't wait to bring you live pictures, as well as an update on pricing and sale date, of the car from the Frankfurt Motor Show on September 12. In the meantime, enjoy these official shots.