PEDIGREED IS GOOD

Con­ti­nen­tal GT spares no ex­pense or top VW tech

Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - MOTORING - DAMIEN REID

Bent­ley’s first new Con­ti­nen­tal GT in 15 years has ar­rived with a lit­tle help from friends and fam­ily, par­tic­u­larly the Porsche Panam­era and Lam­borgh­ini Urus. Porsche’s con­tri­bu­tion is not im­me­di­ately vis­i­ble but the Con­ti­nen­tal rides on a mod­u­lar VW Group plat­form first seen un­der the new Porsche Panam­era and due to un­der­pin the com­ing Bent­ley Fly­ing Spur.

For now, it forms the bench­mark for a truly re­mark­able Grand Tour­ing coupe that’s lighter, more lux­u­ri­ous, more tech­ni­cally ad­vanced and more spa­cious than the model it re­places.

Un­der the hood re­sides a 6.0-litre twin­turbo engine that ap­pears fa­mil­iar but dif­fers con­sid­er­ably from those in pre­vi­ous Bent­leys.

Shared with the Ben­tayga su­per SUV, this W12 mo­tor has not only shed 30kg but has also been rad­i­cally re-en­gi­neered – with the front drive shafts punch­ing through the sump – to make it fit into the smaller engine bay. The 467kW of power goes out via a new eight-speed trans­mis­sion from Ger­man spe­cial­ist ZF.

Fuel de­liv­ery in­volves some in­tri­cate plumb­ing, com­bin­ing port in­jec­tion from the old car for more power with di­rect in­jec­tion to en­sure the W12 meets new emis­sion reg­u­la­tions. The up­graded twin-scroll tur­bocharg­ers vir­tu­ally elim­i­nate lag.

When cruis­ing, cylin­der dis­place­ment cuts out six cylin­ders to help with the claimed 16 per cent im­prove­ment in fuel econ­omy. Bent­ley reck­ons on a range of 800km and, on our test of more than 600km though mountain passes and high-speed mo­tor­ways, we av­er­aged bet­ter than 13L/100km.

The trans­mis­sion em­ploys Porsche’s dou­ble clutch set-up. The car’s launch was post­poned from late last year as en­gi­neers beefed up the gear­box to han­dle the engine’s 900Nm of torque – on the road, it pro­vides rapid shift­ing.

Not only seam­less, the surge of power feels vir­tu­ally lim­it­less – de­spite its 2244kg, Bent­ley claims the Con­ti­nen­tal GT will get to 100km/h in 3.7 se­conds on its way to 333km/h. Portly it may be but in ad­di­tion to the weight saved in the engine, the new Conti also drops 80kg through the use of alu­minium and com­pos­ites in the body. The com­bi­na­tion of more power and less weight is im­me­di­ately no­tice­able.

The Con­ti­nen­tal points into cor­ners like no Bent­ley be­fore and more like an As­ton Martin Van­tage or AMG GT.

This is no doubt helped by the Dy­namic Ride rear anti-roll sus­pen­sion, shared with the Ben­tayga, and its three-cham­ber air sus­pen­sion, which gives the driver more lever­age in the stiff­ness ver­sus com­fort bat­tle.

Stop­ping’s not a prob­lem, ei­ther. In place of the pre­vi­ous model’s ex­pen­sive car­bon ce­ramic discs are the big­gest brakes on a pro­duc­tion car – 420mm discs clamped by 10-pis­ton calipers on the front and 380mm, four-pis­ton jobs at the rear – sim­i­lar to those used on the Lam­borgh­ini Urus, al­though the Lam­borgh­ini discs are car­bon ce­ramic.

The pre­vi­ous model had fixed all-wheel drive, with a 60:40 split rear to front. To­day’s GT is ef­fec­tively a rear-driver with a clutch that

QUICK GLANCE

BENT­LEY CON­TI­NEN­TAL GT PRICE $422,600 plus on-roads ENGINE 6.0-litre W12 twin-turbo, 467kW/900Nm

TRANS­MIS­SION 8-speed auto; AWD THIRST 8.9L/100km

0-100KM/H 3.7 se­conds

TOP SPEED 333km/h

sends torque on de­mand to the front wheels.

The front axle has moved for­ward 135mm not only for bet­ter weight dis­tri­bu­tion but also to give it a more ag­gres­sive look. The longer wheel­base (up by 110mm) and wider foot­print (50mm) give the car its as­sertive stance with­out sac­ri­fic­ing height and head­room.

Main­tain­ing the Bent­ley hall­marks of tim­ber, leather and chrome, the cabin rep­re­sents a rad­i­cal de­par­ture from pre­vi­ous Bent­leys. It feels lighter and more spa­cious than that of the Ben­tayga.

Am­bi­ent mood light­ing in­cludes ra­zor-thin LED strips across the dash and down the doors into the rear where it im­i­tates the ex­te­rior hips.

If buy­ers aren’t con­tent with just one tim­ber ve­neer, they can spec­ify two on the dash and doors, split by a chrome strip. A new 12.3-inch nav­i­ga­tion screen is hid­den be­hind a clever tim­ber panel that ro­tates to show a trio of ana­log di­als.

Bring­ing the Con­ti­nen­tal GT into the mod­ern era is a raft of des­per­ately needed driver aids such as head-up dis­play, ac­tive lane as­sis­tance, traf­fic as­sis­tance, parking aids and re­vers­ing cam­eras. It is due in Aus­tralia in the third quar­ter.

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