The next Bentley Continental GT has been spotted testing Credit: Timothy Pottle
It's due for launch in early 2018... Credit: Timothy Pottle
..and will be even larger than the current car Credit: Timothy Pottle
New underpinnings will make it lighter
The structure was co-developed by Porsche
Although it's wearing camouflage, the GT's new styling includes a lower front and rear than the current car, as well as shorter overhangs and a shorter wheelbase.
The MSB platform is already used in lengthened form by the latest Panamera.
The Continental range will be significantly lighter than the outgoing model, Bentley boss Wolfgang Dürheimer has said.
Like the firm’s Bentayga, the Continental’s bodyshell will be a hybrid-materials structure, with assorted high-strength steels reinforcing a body made mainly from aluminium. The current car is steel-bodied.
This change is part of a weight reduction effort that should drop the car’s weight substantially below the 2375kg of today’s GT. However, it will not fall below two tonnes, Dürheimer said.
Below the range-topping 6.0-litre W12, which produces 18bhp more than the outgoing W12, an updated version of the current car's 4.0-litre petrol V8 will be offered. The V8's power output is likely to grow beyond the 521bhp of the current S model.
There will also be a petrol V6 plug-in hybrid, which will use a set-up that develops 410bhp in today’s Porsche Cayenne plug-in hybrid.
It’s unlikely that Bentley will offer a diesel V8 option in the Continental, even though the unit is already fitted to the Bentayga.
Speaking at the Bentayga's launch last year, Dürheimer said his “personal goal is a sustainable, stand-alone business with an annual production volume of 20,000 units”. He envisages seven model lines, although the production version of the EXP 10 Speed 6 sports car that would be among the growing line-up is yet to be signed off. Bentley could also add its first electric car to the list - as previewed by the EXP 12 Speed 6e.
Talking about the advantages of Bentley being part of the new Sports and Luxury Group at Volkswagen, Dürheimer said the VW Group test drives that take place in Namibia will now be split among the new groups and involve fewer cars. More can be achieved this way, he said.
Another gain will be sharing research and development skills, as well as a supplier base suitable for high-performance and luxury models from Porsche, Bentley and Bugatti. Dürheimer added that Lamborghini’s absence from this group “makes no sense”.