Bentley promises its new race-inspired two-seat Continental will be "the most dynamic Bentley road car ever", and will come with a 572bhp V8 engine

The new Bentley Continental GT3-R has been revealed at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and is described as the “fastest-ever accelerating” and “most dynamic road car” in the firm's history, as the British marque seeks to refocus its brand image as offering “performance-focused luxury”. 

Just 300 examples of the model - which, the company says, was directly inspired by the Bentley GT3 race car - will be built at a price yet to be announced. GT3-R deliveries start at the end of this year, with order books for the model opening today.

The new GT3-R is based on the Continental. It is a strict two-seater and powered by a newly retuned version of the familiar 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine. This now delivers 572bhp and 516lb ft of torque from just 1700rpm. The GT3-R also weighs 100kg less than 
a GT V8 S.

The engine is hooked up to an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox, which has shorter gearing than in other Continental GT models. 

Bentley claims that the GT3-R will accelerate from zero to 60mph in just 3.6sec. The engine’s exhaust system is all new and made from titanium, saving 7kg, and has been acoustically tuned to deliver a “unique baritone roar”.

The revamped powertrain, which also gets modified electronic stability control, drives through a new version of the Continental’s all-wheel drive system. It is now fitted with torque vectoring for the first time. 

The system allows the engine’s huge torque output to be split unequally between the rear wheels. This enables the car to turn in to bends more aggressively and should dramatically reduce understeer - important in a car that has its engine mounted ahead of the front axle. 

Read Autocar's history of Bentley

The car’s Drive and Sport modes are now said to be 
more clearly defined from each other, with the Sport mode “designed for more spirited driving”. The operation of the column-mounted gearshift paddles has also been recalibrated. Bentley says the result is “the most dynamic, responsive and involving Bentley road car ever”. 

The GT3-R rides on the 
same basic suspension, but 
the air springs and dampers have been further developed from the set-up used on the Continental GT V8 S. 

The new car has 21-inch forged wheels. The braking system uses Bentley’s familiar carbon-silicon-carbide braking system, with 420mm discs and eight-piston calipers at the front and 365mm discs at the rear. Bentley says that such is the power of this braking system that it can absorb up to “10 megajoules” of energy in one stop, which would be “enough to power a family home for six hours”.

Rolf Frech, Bentley board member for engineering, said the firm wanted to push the Continental’s powertrain and chassis further than ever with a “torque vectoring system that neutralises understeer and a chassis tune that is both direct and forgiving”.

Frech said: “ We’ve differentiated the Drive and Sport modes to further give the driver a choice between a relaxed grand tourer and a sharp supercar with instant responses thanks to new turbochargers that eliminate turbo lag. Dynamically, the GT3-R is our finest hour yet.”

Dramatic changes have also been wrought both outside and inside the car. The GT3-R is now a strict two-seater, the rear seats replaced by a luggage bench. The front sports seats are a new design, with larger side bolsters, new foam cores and trim that features Beluga black leather and diamond-quilted Alcantara. 

The same material combination appears on the steering wheel and shifter. Carbonfibre is used for the centre console, fascia panels and door casings. GT3-R badging is fitted to the centre console, passenger-side fascia and sill treadplates. 

Read Autocar's first drive of the Continental GT V8 S

On the outside, the GT3-R is distinguished by a new front splitter and rear spoiler made from carbonfibre, and two new bonnet vents. All 300 cars will be finished in Glacier White paint and all the headlamp bezels, radiator shell, matrix grille and window surrounds are gloss black. The two-tone green graphics are described as tracing the “the power lines” on the side profile of the car.

Wolfgang Dürheimer, Bentley’s newly installed boss (who is now in his second spell at the head of the company) said the GT3-R “had to be the most luxurious track-inspired grand tourer ever… this car pushes our trademark combination of luxury and performance to a new level”.

The talk of performance-focused luxury by Bentley is a prelude to the new-generation models arriving over the next few years. Aside from the new SUV, which is the first new-generation model, the replacement for the Continental and Flying Spur models will be based on an all-new platform called MSB.

The MSB platform is, in effect, the next-generation version of the architecture that underpins the Porsche Panamera. The vital difference between this platform and what Bentley uses today is that it is natively rear-wheel drive. That is to say, the engine is longitudinally mounted and sits well back in the engine bay, sending power primarily to the rear wheels (although, obviously, all-wheel drive will be an option). 

Today’s Continental and Flying Spur platform is related to the Volkswagen Phaeton and Audi A8, both of which have a longitudinally mounted engine that sits ahead of the front axle. This nose-heavy stance makes tuning a car for ultimate performance driving very hard, although Bentley has been surprisingly successful in this respect, aided by a rear-biased four-wheel drive system.

The torque vectoring on this new model will further help, but when Bentley shifts to the new MSB platform from 2017, the near-ideal weight distribution and much-improved steering layout and geometry will finally allow the brand to build really serious performance-led cars.

The GT3-R is a clear signal to expect a change in the Bentley brand and its approach. ‘Performance-focused luxury’ is a tag that doesn’t just apply to the GT3-R; it also signposts the way Bentley will change in the second half of this decade.

Speaking to Autocar at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, Bentley's UK head of marketing Kiran Haslam said the GT3-R was a " tip of the hat to that car [the GT3 racer.] We've been delighted to play with this idea and bring a road version of the GT3 to the public. Racing is in our blood.

"This is a clear indication of how connected we are to our motorsport roots. It seems right to do this now."

It's possible that other Bentley models may also get the motorsport treatment in the future, too. Speaking about the possibility of a hotter version of the firm's planned SUV, which is due to launch in 2016 and already has a targetted top speed of 200mph, Haslam said: "Maybe, wouldn't it be fantastic? A grunting, heaving, motorsport-derived variant of a luxury SUV. Why not."

Additional reporting by Darren Moss, 26 June 2014

Get the latest car news, reviews and galleries from Autocar direct to your inbox every week. Enter your email address below:

Our Verdict

Bentley Continental GT

Full of character and still able to impress, particularly as a V8

Join the debate

Comments
10

17 June 2014
The Continental GT is a luxury class coupe, like the S-Class coupe is, yet Bentley seem more and more intent in turning this car in to sports car, even bordering a hot rod. If they want to take on GTs like the DB9, Granturismo etc, or sports cars like a 911 and Vantage, then make a proper, stand alone GT or sports car rather than turn a car in to something it's not.

17 June 2014
Agree with Saucerer. Also it's getting very hard to spend £100,000+ on a fast car without getting a lot of vulgarity. The car in the picture looks far worse than the standard model in a discreet color. Very stealth!

17 June 2014
A trip to Kahn would actually add taste.

17 June 2014
Why on earth wasn't it? 100kg saving from well over 2 tonnes isn't exactly rewriting the rule book either. It does look a bit silly now but maybe all black with no stripping would look better

18 June 2014
I don't get this either. I know they aren't the biggest seats but they aren't the smallest either and it still gives the GT a different string to it's bow. If you want a 2 seat sports coupe why on earth would you want one that is still over 2 tonnes in weight?? Surely that defeats the whole point of the exercise as there are many, many other options which will be better. At least as a four seat coupe it would still make sense and as they have only managed to save 100kg you might as well keep the rear seats and only save 50kg, it isn't going to make a lot of difference is it?

18 June 2014
Looks like something I'd have drawn aged 7; fat tyres..YEAH! wide spoiler YEAH!! and to make it go faster a sticker on the side YEEAAHH!!! Bentley should be ashamed of themselves.

19 June 2014
"The engine is hooked up to an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox, which has shorter gearing than in other Continental GT models."
The transmission ratios will be unchanged and they won't have touched the gearing in the final drives, so it won't make the gearing shorter. My bet is that they've just put on 35 aspect ratio tyres. Or there's been a fowl-up in the communications between German engineering and UK press release. Anyhow it's a turkey - the black paint just serves to highlight the awkward haunches and squinty eyes. Such a crying shame that a, once, great British marque has been degraded to changing the tyre profile and then mis-communicating this to "enhance" the marketing message.

19 June 2014
A Joule of energy is a Watt Second. Therefore 10 megajoules is 10,000,000 Watts / 6 hours / 3600 = 463 Watts. However, according to ofgem, the typical medium consumption figures are 16,500 kWh gas and 3,300 kWh electricity, so to power a family home, you'd need =(16500000+3300000)/365.25/24 = 2,259 Watts.
Perhaps German houses are very much more efficient? Or perhaps Germans are just plain useless at simple arithmetic.

27 June 2014
pauld101 wrote:

A Joule of energy is a Watt Second. Therefore 10 megajoules is 10,000,000 Watts / 6 hours / 3600 = 463 Watts. However, according to ofgem, the typical medium consumption figures are 16,500 kWh gas and 3,300 kWh electricity, so to power a family home, you'd need =(16500000+3300000)/365.25/24 = 2,259 Watts.
Perhaps German houses are very much more efficient? Or perhaps Germans are just plain useless at simple arithmetic.

Well spotted, and very nice work!
I thought they might have omitted the 16,500 kWh for gas. They would then have 3,300,000/(365.35*24) = 376 Watts, but this would result in 10 MJ over 7 hours, not 6.

26 June 2014
Hilton, pleased to see your update of 26 June 2014 11:28am, however Bentley is still spouting total rubbish about "The engine is hooked up to an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox, which has shorter gearing than in other Continental GT models". It doesn't - they've just lowered the tyre profile which shortens the gearing, and about the 10 MJ of energy being enough to power a family home for 6 hours - it's not, it's about enough for about one hour and fourteen minutes.
Please can you confirm with Bentley that they are in error and obtain and print a suitable apology - I realise this sort of thing can't be brought in front of the ASA because it isn't advertising, but your reporting? Press Standards, gentlemen?

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Lexus LC500
    Car review
    20 October 2017
    Futuristic Lexus LC coupé mixes the latest technology with an old-school atmospheric V8
  • Maserati Levante S GranSport
    First Drive
    20 October 2017
    Get ready to trade in your diesels: Maserati’s luxury SUV finally gets the engine it’s always needed
  • Jaguar XF Sportbrake TDV6
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The handsome Jaguar XF Sportbrake exhibits all the hallmarks that makes the saloon great, and with the silky smooth diesel V6 makes it a compelling choice
  • Volkswagen T-Roc TDI
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    Volkswagen's new compact crossover has the looks, the engineering and the build quality to be a resounding success, but not with this diesel engine
  • BMW M550i
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The all-paw M550i is a fast, effortless mile-muncher, but there's a reason why it won't be sold in the UK