Bentley Motors has just announced full details of its new Continental GT, the definitive Grand Tourer. We publish the press release in full.
Designed, engineered and handcrafted in Britain, the new third-generation Bentley Continental GT combines spirited, focused performance with handcrafted luxury and cutting-edge technology, to create the finest Grand Tourer ever produced.
Wolfgang Dürheimer, chairman and chief executive of Bentley Motors, said: “Bentley has been at the forefront of luxury Grand Touring for nearly one hundred years. 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 the heart of the new Continental GT sits an all-new, enhanced version of Bentley’s renowned 6.0-litre, twin-turbocharged W12 TSI engine, mated, for the first time, to a dual-clutch eight-speed transmission, for faster, more efficient gear changes.
A new, technically advanced, adaptive chassis uses Bentley’s intelligent 48-volt Dynamic Ride System to ensure a responsive ride and exceptional handling and refinement in all road conditions. The new system controls ride comfort and lateral roll, cushioning passengers from excessive movement as well as making the car feel effortlessly precise.
The muscular exterior design, created using revolutionary technology, results in a lightweight, yet stiff, body. The engine is positioned further back to improve weight distribution, resulting in driver-focused, dynamic performance.
Offering four seats and improved luggage capacity for genuine real-world usability, the new Bentley Continental GT’s luxurious cabin is packed with exquisite details such as a new ‘diamond in diamond’ leather design. In addition, significant work has gone into harmonising the extensive portfolio of 15 colours across hides and carpets.
The new Continental GT also showcases major evolutions in Bentley’s unique application of technology. An advanced, fully digital, driver-focused instrument panel and Bentley Rotating Display for the driver are among the suite of innovations. The latter features an impressive 12.3” touchscreen housed in a three-sided unit, which revolves the veneer to reveal the touchscreen as well as three elegant analogue dials.
The interior design of the Continental GT is tailored specifically to the modern luxury customer, with unrivalled attention to detail that creates an effortless ownership experience. The cabin seamlessly integrates cutting-edge onboard technology with the finest handcrafted natural materials. The result is an exquisite, harmonised, connected and luxurious space.
The new Continental GT will make its global debut at the IAA Frankfurt Motor Show between 12 and 24 September, 2017.
The Evolution of Bentley’s Famous Design DNA
The exterior design of the new Continental GT is based on a bold new vision that is unmistakably Bentley. The all-new body and materials save more than 80 kg over the previous Continental W12 body.
While the Continental GT retains the classic elegance that made its forebear so popular, the form of the new car is more sculptural and sharply defined and takes much of its inspiration from the critically acclaimed EXP 10 Speed 6 concept car.
To allow for such a bold reimagining of the Continental GT, the aluminium skin has been crafted using Super Formed technology – a precision technique working with aluminium heated to 500°C which has previously been used on Bentley fenders. This method allows designers to invoke more complex, sharply defined body lines and a deeper, sculpted haunch muscle.
The Continental GT is the first production car ever to have an entire body side made from the Super Formed process.
The Continental GT’s profile is longer and lower due in part to the positioning of the front wheels 135 mm further forward, which in turn allows the bonnet to be extended and the nose to be lowered. However, the key signature lines of the original Continental still dominate, with the ‘power line’ travelling from the headlights to the muscular rear haunch.
The rear of the car is a radical styling departure, with the taillights now shaped into ellipses, reflecting the silhouette of the exhaust tail pipes below them.
The lighting on the Continental GT uses the latest LED Matrix technology, but it is the design of the head lamps that truly sets them apart. Inspired by the finest cut-crystal glasses, the internal surfaces are transparent with sharply defined edges that catch the light like a diamond.
The result is similar to that of an illuminated gem – an effect which is magnified when the optional welcome sequence gradually illuminates the headlights as you approach the car. The taillights also feature the cut-crystal effect, highlighting the three-dimensional depth of the optics.
The new Continental GT has 21” wheels as standard, with two styles available, reflecting in turn the model’s elegant and sporting characters. A 22” lightweight, forged wheel is also offered, alongside a hand-finished option, which allows for a twisted polished finish.
In another example of Bentley’s exacting attention to detail, and the unique way in which Bentley design often serves a dual engineering purpose, the elliptical exhausts have a complex perforated sleeve which adds visual detail but also reduces the exhaust temperature.
The new Continental GT customer has a class-leading portfolio of 17 exterior paint colours to choose from – carefully selected to complement the character and lines of the car. In addition, a limited extended range of colours will be offered at launch, as well as the option of full bespoke colour-matching for Bentley customers.
The Finest Handcrafted Cabin: A World of Hidden Delights
The interior of the new Continental GT showcases Bentley’s unrivalled expertise in the authentic use of materials, from the highest-quality natural leathers, to rare, sustainably sourced veneers – including Koa, Bentley’s newest veneer – and hand-polished chrome details. For the first time, unique dual-veneer options are offered. Over 10 square metres of wood are used in each Continental GT, and it takes nine hours to create and fit the wooden inlays by hand.
The exquisitely styled dashboard of the new Continental GT is sculpted by long, flowing wings that mirror the shape of the Bentley badge. A floating leather top flows seamlessly to the doors.
The centre console is finished to match the lower fascia, but can be specified in a new technical finish that is inspired by the delicate mechanical surfacing inside the finest automatic Swiss watches, known as Côtes de Genève. This surface – a first in the automotive world – is machined onto 0.6 mm-thick aluminium and is created by machining from side to side to create a linear pattern. Each row is 5 mm wide and machined at an angle to give a truly three-dimensional finish, with each pass of the machine making a minute step of 0.5 mm.
New types of luxurious haptic finishes adorn the interior of the Continental GT for greater sensory, as well as visual, enjoyment. In some areas, pillow knurling replaces the traditional mechanical knurling, for a softer, more refined feel on switches and controls, while diamond knurling adds a luxurious touch using a detailed three-dimensional faceted surface.
The new knurling design is available on the iconic Bullseye vents, bezels and other primary control rotaries, and not only gives a finely faceted visual impact but provides a precise technical feel when operating the controls.
Another hidden delight is the addition of bronze inserts between surfaces on the primary controls, which adds a level of fine detailing never seen before.
The 20-way adjustable seats in the new Continental GT set new industry standards in comfort and refinement. Smooth centre panels allow maximum efficiency for the cooling, heating and massage functions, while the bolsters retain the signature Bentley quilting.
A new, unique quilt is also available: 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. The inner diamonds are embroidered, using a specially-designed machine that balances high speed with quality. Eighteen months were spent developing the embroidery, individually optimising and programming the exact alignment of each one of the 712 stitches that make up each diamond shape – an unrivalled attention to detail.
A choice of three audio systems is offered in the new Continental GT. The standard system features 10 speakers and 650 Watts, while a Bang & Olufsen 1,500 W, 16-speaker system with illuminated speaker grilles is aimed at lifestyle-oriented customers. The new Bang & Olufsen installation benefits from the first automotive application of the BeoSonic system – a new way for tone setting with a simple, intuitive one-touch user interface.
A Naim 2,200 W, 18-speaker system with Active Bass Transducers built into the front seats and eight sound modes is offered for the true audiophile.
In order to ensure optimal audio enjoyment, laminated acoustic glass is used for the windscreen and side windows, resulting in a nine-decibel reduction in exterior noise ingress versus the outgoing model.
Behind the wheel, the technological advancements in the new Continental GT are striking. The driver-orientated instrument panel is now fully digital and configurable by the driver. While the main dials appear to be real, they are in fact digital graphics designed to look three-dimensional. This display can show information from across the infotainment system including satellite-navigation information.
The Continental GT features the innovative and industry-first Bentley Rotating Display. At first glance there appears to be no screen in the centre of the dashboard. Instead, the veneer flows uninterrupted across the dashboard, while a thin chrome bezel behind the steering wheel surrounds a digital instrument display.
When the engine start button is pressed, however, the veneer in the middle of the dashboard glides silently forward and rotates to reveal Bentley’s largest-ever touchscreen, a 12.3” retina-quality digital MMI display, elegantly designed by Bentley with a customer-configurable home screen with three windows able to display the driver’s preferred functions, for example, navigation, media and telephone.
The user interface is designed to be akin to a modern mobile phone and menus are structured to be instantly intuitive.
The third side on the Bentley Rotating Display reveals three elegant analogue dials displaying outside temperature, a compass and chronometer. Such an innovative use of traditional elements underscores Bentley’s unique commitment to the past and the future, and offers customers the choice of digital or analogue display or clean, calm cabin.
The new Continental benefits from features designed to keep both driver and passengers connected at all times. Apple CarPlay, the smartest and quickest way to integrate the functionality of Apple devices in a car is connected via a USB port.
Customer journeys are streamlined with features designed to improve navigation. Google point of interest search makes finding unusual destinations simple, while real time traffic information keeps the driver informed of current length or changes in congestion. In emergency situations, Private eCall provides instant access to emergency services for ultimate peace of mind when travelling.
Sublime Power: The Beating Heart of Bentley
The new Continental GT is offered at launch with an enhanced version of Bentley’s peerless 6.0-litre, W12 TSI engine that sets a new benchmark in performance.
Designed, developed and handbuilt in Crewe, the W12 TSI engine is the most advanced 12-cylinder engine in the world. The unique ‘W’ configuration means that the engine is 24 per cent shorter than an equivalent V12, benefitting weight distribution and maximising usable cabin space.
The new powertrain uses the very latest engine management technology, with 300 million software calculations per second. It produces 635 PS (626 bhp) and 900 Nm (664 lb.ft.) of torque, and accelerates the new Continental GT to 100 km/h in 3.7 seconds (0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds), and on to a top speed of 333 km/h (207 mph)*.
A dedicated Sport Launch mode delivers maximum acceleration through careful clutch pressure sensing and pre-loading when a race-style start is required by the driver.
The W12 TSI combines high-pressure direct fuel injection with low-pressure injection. The combination of these two systems maximises refinement, lowers particulate emissions and optimises power and torque delivery. At 278 g/km CO2 (a 16 per cent improvement over the previous Continental GT), the engine also meets Phase 2 of Euro 6 and US ULEV 125 (LEV3) emissions targets.
The new engine utilises Start-Stop technology and, in Bentley’s advanced application, coasting is also made possible. The engine rests not only when the vehicle is stationary but also at near-to-stop speeds.
Bentley’s Variable Displacement system shuts down half of the engine under defined conditions. Intake and exhaust valves, fuel injection and ignition are all shut down on defined cylinders, with the engine running as a six-cylinder for improved efficiency.
Significantly, a new dual-mass flywheel replaces the torque converter, to dampen out the oscillations of the driveline and provide a fittingly smooth power delivery for luxury touring.
The dual-clutch eight-speed transmission provides smooth acceleration, and impressively quick gearshifts, both hallmarks of the Continental GT’s dynamic character, as well as improved combined fuel economy (23.2 mpg or
12.2 L/100 km versus the previous model’s 19.9 mpg or 14.2 L/100 km).
Shift times are variable and depend on the selected driving mode. In Sport mode, shifts are seemingly instantaneous to deliver uninterrupted torque delivery and maximum acceleration performance. In Comfort mode, shifts are deliberately relaxed to allow for a seamless and imperceptible gear change.
Maximum speed is reached in sixth gear, with the seventh and eighth gears acting as overdrive gears for relaxed cruising.
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 upon the driving situation. The vehicle will use rear-wheel drive as much as possible during normal driving for optimum efficiency and dynamic performance.
Based on the conditions and the driver’s behaviour, the system will send drive to the front axle as required. This reduces the understeer effect from fixed all-wheel drive, as well as increasing driver engagement for those who revel in the dynamic attributes of the Continental GT.
Unrivalled Grand Touring Ride and Handling
The third generation of Continental GT features Bentley Dynamic Ride, an advanced 48-volt roll control system for unrivalled car control. The system controls and adjusts the electronic actuators on the anti-roll bar of each axle and so improves handling and ride comfort, as well as making the car feel lighter and more precise.
This system instantly counteracts lateral rolling forces when cornering and ensures maximum tyre-to-road contact to deliver class-leading ride comfort and exceptional handling.
While conventional anti-roll bars present a compromise between body control and ride comfort, Bentley’s active system provides variable torsional resistance, allowing the Continental GT to be both dynamically capable and comfortable for all occupants at all times. The use of a 48-volt system results in silent, instantaneous responses and sufficient power on hand to deal with all road surfaces.
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 his or her own dynamic settings.
The air suspension on the new Continental GT is revised and uses three-chamber air springs which give the car 60 per cent 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 dynamic character of the car. The system offers the scope to vary from sporting spring stiffness to luxury limousine refinement depending upon which mode the driver has selected.
Electric Power-Assisted Steering (EPAS) is also featured on the Continental GT. The new system improves feedback to the driver, while providing isolation from unwanted road disturbances. The steering system features a variable rack ratio, allowing increased response with higher steering angles to aid manoeuverability whilst maintaining excellent stability at high speeds. The introduction of EPAS also allows the Continental GT to be offered with a wide range of Driver Assistance features including Active Lane Assist, Traffic Jam Assist and Park Assist.
Another key feature is the latest-generation Continuous Damping Control (CDC), which constantly adjusts the damper forces to optimise comfort. The system continually measures the velocity and distance between the wheels and the body at each corner and also adjusts the air volume in the springs if necessary to ensure the optimum balance of comfort and handling. Both front and rear axles are of a lightweight aluminium construction, with multilink design at the front and rear.
The brakes, as always on the Continental GT, are bigger on the front axle, with a 15 mm increase in size to 420 mm to match the increased performance.
The exhaust tail pipes have also been revised, and now have an adaptive valve for greater tuning potential.
Bentley Personalisation Options and Mulliner Bespoke
The all-new Continental GT redefines personalisation and bespoke luxury. Paint, leather, veneer and lifestyle options are virtually unlimited and tailored to the individual.
The standard palette alone comprises 17 exterior paint colours, with up to 70 hues available in the extended range. There are also 15 luxurious carpet options, eight different handcrafted veneers (with a further four dual-veneer options) and 15 choices of interior trim hide, which means that customers are able to specify their own choice of luxury finish.
Two technology option packs are offered at launch: City Specification for urban journeys and the Touring Specification for long-distance driving, both curated to optimise the customer experience. City Specification includes hands-free boot opening, pedestrian warning, traffic-sign recognition and city braking systems as well as a top-view camera. The Touring Specification pack, meanwhile, offers adaptive cruise control with traffic-jam assist, active lane assist, a heads-up display, night vision with an infrared camera, and pre-sense braking.
The Mulliner Driving Specification adds a more sporting look to the car with 22” lightweight forged alloy wheels, unique ‘diamond in diamond’ quilting, embroidered Bentley emblems, additional veneer options, a jewelled-finish fuel filler, sports pedals and indented leather headliner. Customers can also choose personalised stitching in the front and rear of the car and personalised treadplates.
As with all Bentleys, the Continental GT can also be handed over to the highly skilled and dedicated craftspeople at Mulliner, Bentley’s personal commissioning division, who will respond to bespoke customer requirements.
Extreme Conditions: Global Testing for the Perfect Grand Tourer
Bentley’s highly skilled engineers have put the new Continental GT through the extraordinary rigours of extreme hot and cold weather testing – as well as durability tests – around the globe to ensure the new Grand Tourer triumphs in all driving conditions, covering nearly one million kilometres.
A demanding and thorough development drive programme put the new Continental GT through cold-climate testing in polar areas, hot-weather testing in America and durability testing on the grueling roads in South Africa; as well as tests in the Middle East, China and Europe.
A team of expert Bentley development engineers led the testing in Sweden for serious sub-zero driving on frozen lakes and in snow. In America, testing also took place in the below sea-level ‘oven’ of Death Valley with temperatures approaching 50 degrees Celsius for a trial covering thousands of kilometres.
Energy-Efficient Production Using Sustainable Materials
Since 2003 more than 66,000 Bentley Continental GTs have been handcrafted in the factory in Crewe, England. Over that period the style, technology and engineering behind the car have been constantly evolving, and the vehicles produced in Crewe have become ever more efficient.
Similarly, the production techniques utilised in Crewe have become significantly more efficient over that time. The all-new Continental GT is being produced in a factory where up to 40 per cent of the electricity needs are met by 20,815 solar panels covering over 34,500 square metres of factory roof space. The installation was the largest of its kind in the UK when first put in place. The solar panels provide a capacity of 5.1 megawatts and contribute to a CO2 reduction of 2,500 tonnes per year.
Following significant reductions in key environmental areas, Bentley has become the first UK automotive manufacturer to be awarded the Carbon Trust Standards for carbon, water and waste respectively. The Crewe headquarters was the first UK automotive plant to achieve the internationally recognised ISO 14001 environmental and ISO 50001 energy management standards.
Bentley’s desire to offer customers the very best cars in the world – with unsurpassed levels of luxury and performance – goes hand-in-hand with a determination to enhance significantly fuel economy, reduce emissions and develop highly advanced, sustainable drive technologies for the future.