Con­ti­nen­tal GT: re­mas­tered

New Bent­ley gets 626bhp, a 207mph top speed, a dif­fer­ent plat­form and an all- new cabin

Evo - - NEW METAL -

IN FOUR OR FIVE DECADES’ time, long af­ter new petrol ve­hi­cles have been con­signed to the his­tory books and re­main­ing ex­am­ples of the 2018 Bent­ley Con­ti­nen­tal GT are parked on lawns in Villa d’este and Peb­ble Beach, cur­mud­geonly old mil­len­ni­als will peer through its slim side glaz­ing to glean a taste of how GT cars used to be.

When they do, they won’t be faced with the dis­ap­point­ing black mir­ror of a long-ob­so­lete in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem, like they’d seen in the nearby Mclarens and As­ton Martins. In­stead, they’ll see three small ana­logue di­als: one an out­side air tem­per­a­ture gauge, an­other with its nee­dle point­ing to one of the car­di­nal di­rec­tions, and the last a stop­watch.

Back in 2017, the owner of a new Con­ti­nen­tal GT can choose to show ei­ther these di­als, a 12.3-inch in­fo­tain­ment screen, or a sim­ple ve­neered panel in the cen­tre of the dash, ro­tat­ing from one to the next with the tap of a but­ton. It’s the work of 40 mov­ing com­po­nents, and tol­er­ances be­tween this and its neigh­bour­ing dash­board pan­els are less than half a mil­lime­tre.

There’s much more to the new Con­ti­nen­tal GT than that, of course, but the at­ten­tion to de­tail present in this Toblerone-shaped sur­prise-and-de­light fea­ture is re­flected through­out the car. It’s in the beau­ti­ful crys­tal cut of the head­lights, it’s in the crisp press­ings of the new body­work, and it’s in the unique di­a­mond­pat­tern knurl­ing of the tra­di­tional ro­tary switches used to con­trol the heat­ing and ven­ti­la­tion func­tions.

Stand back sev­eral paces and you can ap­pre­ci­ate the at­ten­tion Bent­ley has paid to the car’s en­tire form, too, which is heav­ily in­spired by 2015’s Bent­ley EXP 10 Speed 6 con­cept and built around a mod­i­fied Porsche Panam­era plat­form. The di­men­sions have ac­tu­ally re­mained fairly sim­i­lar to the old Con­ti­nen­tal GT’S, but Bent­ley has pushed and pulled at the car’s pro­por­tions so that it’s al­to­gether sleeker and ap­pears longer and wider than be­fore. The trick has been to ex­tend the wheel­base by 135mm, most of that for­ward of the front doors, to in­crease what di­rec­tor of de­sign Ste­fan Sielaff de­scribes as the ‘pres­tige mass’.

Is the new Conti GT beau­ti­ful? You can de­cide for your­self, but on the road, on its stan­dard 21-inch or op­tional 22-inch wheels, it’ll com­mand huge pres­ence.

Bent­ley has trimmed 85kg from the old body (a 20 per cent sav­ing) thanks to the use of alu­minium ex­te­rior pan­els ( bootlid aside, which is com­pos­ite) and clever use of high-strength steel in the struc­ture. There’s also greater struc­tural rigid­ity than be­fore – im­por­tant for re­fine­ment as well as han­dling. The W12 engine is 30kg lighter than be­fore, too, help­ing to im­prove weight dis­tri­bu­tion to 55:45 from 58:42.

The W12 is a de­riv­a­tive of that used in the Ben­tayga. It now de­vel­ops 7.5 per cent more power and a sig­nif­i­cant 25 per cent more torque than the old GT’S unit, giv­ing to­tals of 626bhp and 664lb ft – and this with greater ef­fi­ciency, too. Low-pres­sure port and high-

The W12 engine is 30kg lighter than be­fore, help­ing to im­prove weight dis­tri­bu­tion to 55:45 from 58:42

pres­sure di­rect fuel in­jec­tion, twin-scroll tur­bocharg­ers and a new engine man­age­ment sys­tem and cylin­der de­ac­ti­va­tion are the causes; 0- 62mph in 3.7sec (down from 4.5sec) and a 207mph top speed (up from 198mph) are the re­mark­able ef­fect. More re­mark­able still is the pack­ag­ing: so tightly is ev­ery­thing squeezed into the engine bay that the front drive­shafts pass through the sump – clear­ing the num­ber six main bear­ing by just 1.5 mil­lime­tres…

Power is sent through a Panam­era-sourced dual-clutch, eight-speed trans­mis­sion. The top two gears are over­drives (top speed is achieved in sixth), while power is sent to all four wheels – mainly the rear pair in most con­di­tions, with torque vec­tor­ing by brak­ing to dis­trib­ute power as re­quired. The front cast-iron brake discs are a mighty 420mm in di­am­e­ter (up from 405mm) with ten-pis­ton calipers, the rears 380mm (from 335mm) with four-pis­ton calipers.

Crewe res­i­dents can blame Bent­ley for the state of the road out­side the fac­tory: so lousy is its sur­face that the com­pany uses it to as­sess the ride qual­ity of its prod­ucts and has asked the lo­cal coun­cil not to resur­face it. The GT uses three-cham­ber air springs to sus­pend the body, with dou­ble-wish bones up front and a mul­ti­link rear. The springs dis­place 60 per cent more air vol­ume than be­fore and give the abil­ity to switch be­tween cham­bers, to the ben­e­fit of both body con­trol and a cos­set­ing ride. Bent­ley Dy­namic Ride – based around a 48-volt elec­tri­cal sys­tem – can also ad­just the tor­sion of the anti-roll bars. We drove a pro­to­type ver­sion of the new Con­ti­nen­tal GT in evo 238 and found it much more re­spon­sive than the pre­vi­ous ver­sion – promis­ing signs in­deed.

And then there are the new car’s myr­iad other fea­tures: a gen­uinely spe­cial-feel­ing and lux­u­ri­ously ap­pointed cabin, the ex­tra lug­gage ca­pac­ity, the dig­i­tal in­stru­ments, the 92 ECUS, the slim el­lip­ti­cal tail lights, the op­tional 2200W, 18-speaker Naim sound sys­tem, and a near-end­less list of other vari­ables that will en­sure few GTS will ever be alike.

Pro­duc­tion be­gins later this year, with prices ex­pected to start at around £155,000.

Far left and be­low: new Conti has a much sleeker, less up­right look. Above left: in­te­rior is a clear step on from the old car’s and has more be­spoke switchgear. Above: cen­tre panel in the dash can ro­tate be­tween po­si­tions to suit the driver’s mood or needs

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