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2017 Frankfurt Motor Show: 2018 Bentley Continental GT glides out

By Daniel Gardner, 30 Aug 2017 Events

2018 Bentley Continental GT glides out for Frankfurt

Third-gen Bentley Continental GT invokes spirit of EXP 10 Speed 6 concept and new design direction

BENTLEY has pulled the covers from its eagerly awaited third-generation Continental GT super coupe, ahead of a public debut at the Frankfurt motor show next month, revealing a design heavily inspired by the company’s most recent concept cars.

While the EXP 10 Speed 6 and the more recent EXP 12 Speed 6e remain unconfirmed as possible small sportscar additions to the Bentley fold, the positive feedback from the show car brace has influenced the look of the new Continental.

Oval tail lights mirrored by the exhausts, larger circular headlight with smaller side light, massive chrome mesh grille, and its assertive profile are all strongly suggestive of the EXP 10 concept, while the 22-inch P-shaped spoke wheels appear to be a carbon copy of the rims worn by the EXP 12 Speed 6e.

With four seats, the new Continental is not the production version of the EXP concept which accommodates just two, but if the British car maker does give a Porsche Cayman and Boxster competitor the green light, the popular design language will be given another new canvas.

Building on the concept’s styling cues, the next-generation Continental GT retains the unmistakable large coupe proportions of its predecessor, but is longer and wider with a 110mm longer wheelbase, the front wheels reaching 135mm further forward and 25mm added to its width.

Despite its significant stature, Bentley says the new Continental feels smaller and more dynamic to steer compared with its predecessor thanks to a weight reduction of 80kg, a 48-volt active anti-roll bar system, and enhanced electric power steering.

The sharper handling and road holding does not come at a cost to Bentley’s typical silky ride, says the company and a three-chamber air suspension set up, coupled with Continuous Damping Control (CDC) active dampers offers true grand tourer comfort.

A shared platform with Porsche’s Panamera will certainly have played a key role in the new Bentley’s handling and comfort standards, although the British car maker points out that 82 percent of the Continental is unique to the model.

Its bold haunches and sharp creases were made possible by a relatively new super forming body manufacturing method, which heats the aluminium skin to 500°C before stamping, and the Continental is the first vehicle to use the technique for all its side panels, says its maker.

Like the outgoing model, the new GT is powered by a 6.0-litre twin-turbocharged W12 pumping out 467kW and a hearty 900Nm of torque, which is up 44kW and 200Nm over its equivalent predecessor, but can’t match the massive 522kW/1017Nm output of the Supersports that sent the second-generation model out with a bang.

For the new car, the zero to 100km/h acceleration benchmark takes 3.7 seconds and the bruiser coupe won’t stop until 333km/h flashes up on its fully-digital instrument cluster.

While the engine size and layout is unchanged over the predecessor (albeit positioned further rearward for improved weight distribution), the new car has an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission in place of the outgoing torque-converter unit.

On the inside, the Conti’s cabin is typically Bentley and a carpet to ceiling demonstration of the finest vehicle interior materials and craftsmanship.

Ten square metres of wood are crafted into the Continental’s cabin, requiring nine hours of meticulous fitting and finishing, and the timber is only upstaged by the diamond-quilted leather coverage, which is everywhere and feature 712 stitches per diamond.

Customers can opt for a special Cotes de Geneve fascia inlay, which is borrowed from the fine Swiss watch industry and applies a thin aluminium surface with precision machined pattern – a first for the automotive world, says Bentley.

The cabin centrepiece is a new Bentley Rotating Display, which houses a 12.3-inch touchscreen for displaying the information and entertainment system options and controls, but if the occupants feel the large screen is spoiling the purity of the elegant interior it can be electrically rolled out of sight and into the dash.

If the fine blank veneer is a little too sparse, a third option exists, which feature a brace of three traditional dials; a thermometer, compass, and stopwatch.

No mention has yet been made of a convertible version or a V8-powered Continental variant, but more engine options are likely to follow the initial show car in both hard-top and cabriolet forms, mimicking the roll-out of the previous GT. A hybrid variant is also expected.