Tak­ing lux­ury tour­ing to the next level

FU­TURE MOD­ELS/ Bent­ley has un­veiled its new Con­ti­nen­tal GT with more lux­ury and more tech­nol­ogy

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS - Mo­tor News Reporter

You would think that two com­pa­nies in the same group would talk to each other, wouldn’t you? Al­though, if that group is the Volk­swa­gen Group, then maybe there is a prece­dent for a lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Even so, it was very strange that while Mo­tor News was in Stuttgart last week at­tend­ing the un­veil­ing of the new Porsche Cayenne, else­where in the world fel­low VW Group com­pany Bent­ley was un­veil­ing its new Con­ti­nen­tal GT, at the same time.

We could un­der­stand if th­ese mod­els were not that im­por­tant to their re­spec­tive brands, but both are of ma­jor sig­nif­i­cance.

Strange as the tim­ing might be, here is the new Con­ti­nen­tal GT, which iron­i­cally sits on the same plat­form as the lat­est Porsche Panam­era. It takes a num­ber of cues from the de­sign of the EXP10 Speed 6 con­cept, al­though as we ex­pect, the pro­duc­tion model is slightly more re­served than the con­cept.

It looks lower, flat­ter and wider, with an even more dy­namic ap­pear­ance than the last gen­er­a­tion, al­though it still looks ev­ery part the Con­ti­nen­tal GT. The grille is wider and lower and on ei­ther side, and the head­lights now sit at the end of sculpted tubes rem­i­nis­cent of old Bent­leys and Jaguars.

At first glance the rear tail lights looks a lit­tle odd with their oval shapes sur­rounded by more de­fined lines than the out­go­ing model. How­ever, look closely and they wrap around the corners of what could prob­a­bly be de­scribed as a fast­back tail that’s a lit­tle bit Audi Sport­back. It is a big im­prove­ment on the more bul­bous look of the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion.

“Bent­ley has been at the fore­front of lux­ury grand tour­ing for nearly one hun­dred years,” says Wolf­gang Dürheimer, chair­man and CEO of Bent­ley Mo­tors. “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.”

At its heart is an all-new, en­hanced ver­sion of Bent­ley’s 6.0l, twin-tur­bocharged W12 TSI en­gine, mated, for the first time, to a dual-clutch eight­speed trans­mis­sion. It pro­duces 466kW and 900Nm of torque, with the com­pany claim­ing a 0100km/h time of 3.7 sec­onds and a top speed of 333km/h. It will also have a ded­i­cated Sport Launch mode for when a races­tyle start is re­quired.

A new ac­tive all-wheel drive sys­tem re­places the tra­di­tional 40:60 power de­liv­ery split be­tween front and rear wheels re­spec­tively, in­stead vary­ing the front-to-rear torque split de­pen­dent on the driv­ing sit­u­a­tion. Bent­ley says the vehicle will use rear-wheel drive as much as pos­si­ble dur­ing nor­mal driv­ing for op­ti­mum ef­fi­ciency and dy­namic per­for­mance.

Through Bent­ley’s Drive Dy­nam­ics Con­trol dif­fer­ent modes can be se­lected: Com­fort mode, Bent­ley mode or Sport mode; the sus­pen­sion, en­gine, gear­box and other chas­sis sys­tems will mod­ify to match the se­lected drive mode. Al­ter­na­tively, the driver can per­son­alise their own dy­namic set­tings.

The air sus­pen­sion has been re­vised and uses three-cham­ber air springs which give the car 60% more air vol­ume in the soft­est set­ting than the pre­vi­ous model. This al­lowed Bent­ley’s en­gi­neers more scope for tun­ing the sus­pen­sion to im­prove the ride com­fort and char­ac­ter.

While ex­te­rior looks are im­por­tant in en­sur­ing the new model con­tin­ues the sport­ing legacy of the fa­mous mar­que, it is the in­te­rior that truly needs to re­flect the brand’s her­itage when it comes to lux­ury. There are big changes for the fourseater tourer inside, with a new dash line that al­most seam­lessly wraps around into the doors in a way sim­i­lar to that of yachts. There are high-qual­ity nat­u­ral leathers; rare, sus­tain­ably sourced ve­neers; and hand-pol­ished chrome de­tails. For the first time, unique dual-ve­neer op­tions are of­fered. More than 10m2 of wood is used in each Con­ti­nen­tal GT, and it takes nine hours to cre­ate and fit the wooden in­lays by hand.

The tra­di­tional wings still em­anate out from the cen­tre con­sole into the dash, al­though in a slightly less ob­vi­ous way than the out­go­ing model. The cen­tre tun­nel sits higher than be­fore too, cre­at­ing a clearer sep­a­ra­tion be­tween the driver and the front pas­sen­ger. That en­tire cen­tre con­sole is to­tally new and con­tains flush-fit­ting hap­tic but­tons that pro­vide feed­back to the touch. At its top sits a clever piece of tech­nol­ogy in the form of an in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem that dis­ap­pears be­hind a piece of pol­ished ve­neer. That in­fo­tain­ment screen is the same as the one in the Panam­era, but it can be turned at the push of a but­ton to hide be­hind the wood or again to re­veal three in­laid di­als dis­play­ing out­side tem­per­a­ture, a com­pass and chronome­ter.

A new, unique quilt is avail­able for the up­hol­stery: called a “di­a­mond in di­a­mond” quilt, the ef­fect is of a float­ing quilted sur­face in a sea of leather, which is ex­traor­di­nar­ily soft to touch. The new in­te­rior pat­tern fea­tures both stitch­ing and embroidery.

Eigh­teen months were spent de­vel­op­ing the embroidery, in­di­vid­u­ally op­ti­mis­ing and pro­gram­ming the ex­act align­ment of each of the 712 stitches that make up each di­a­mond shape.

It all looks good for the new Con­ti­nen­tal GT and we will be sure to have a look at it in all its hand­crafted glory at the next week’s Frank­furt mo­tor show.

The rear has a bit of a fast­back look about it.

The Bent­ley Ro­tat­ing Dis­play fea­tures the in­fo­tain­ment screen, clean wood or th­ese three di­als.

Right: The looks have been in­spired by the de­sign of the EXP10 Speed 6 con­cept. The in­te­rior, left, marks a new chap­ter with clean lines and more tech­nol­ogy.

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