New model revealed at Paris show; new V8 engine planned; evolution of current car's looks
Steve Cropley Autocar
1 October 2010

Bentley has unveiled its new Continental GT at the Paris motor show.

It will cost from £135,760 when its reaches dealerships in the first quarter of 2011. That's a cost increase of almost £10,000 on the current car's £126,500 sticker price.

See the official pics of the new Bentley Continental GT - plus pics from Paris motor showNow watch Autocar's exclusive video of the new Bentley Continental GT in the studio

The new model is charged with continuing the magnificent success of the 2003 original.

It might not look too different, but the Conti' has gained a raft of major updates, including a new engine and a still-secret 4.0-litre direct injection V8.

Fresh lookThe new GT is identical in length, height and wheelbase, but its body is wider at the wheel arches to accommodate wider tracks (increased by 41mm front and 48mm rear). The radiator is a little lower but more upright, which allows a longer bonnet to reduce the previous impression that the Conti’s nose is a little short.

The body’s lines are simpler, crisper and better defined because Bentley has adopted super forming – shaping of aluminium panels at 500deg C by air pressure – which allows more accurate manufacture of large pieces.

The designers have also eliminated one whole body joint (where the front bumper previously met the wings) to give what exterior design boss Raul Pires calls a “more bespoke” look.

The stance has been adjusted, there are more modern headlight treatments (the inners are now much larger than the outers, and have surrounding LEDs to handle minor functions) and there is “a new muscle” that defines the edge of the bonnet, visible from the driver’s seat.

The rear, 50mm wider, incorporates plain-looking tail-lights which show the familiar twin ellipses of the outgoing model when lit.

The bootlid, beneath the spoiler, incorporates the ‘double horseshoe’ shape recently introduced with the new Mulsanne, and there is a new diffuser.

Read more on the launch of the new car, plus see undisguised pics of it in development

Under the bonnetThe 2011 version of Bentley’s familiar twin-turbo 6.0-litre W12 gets handy tweaks to its engine management electronics and some new low-friction measures that together boost both power and torque, from 552bhp to 567bhp and from 479lb ft to 516lb ft.

The enhanced power is still transmitted by a paddle-shift ZF six-speed automatic, but the latest version of that ’box has a ‘quickshift’ function which halves shift times to an ultra-rapid 200 milliseconds while providing a multiple downshift function.

The gearbox will now go, if required, from fourth to second in one action – which should help on quick country roads.

The combined effects of more power and faster shifting have marginally improved the Conti' GT’s already huge performance: top speed is now 198mph, and 0-60mph has been shaved by a tenth or two to 4.4sec.

A new torsen centre differential splits torque 40/60, front to rear, a modification already used with the high-performance, low-volume Supersports model.

The move gives the new standard model significantly better handling balance when driven hard, keeping it on line better as it exits slower corners under full power.

However, on loose or slippery surfaces the system, which monitors and adjusts each wheel independently, compensates for slippage instantly by sending torque to where the grip is.

Bentley isn’t saying much about its all-new V8 except that the capacity is 4.0 litres. It is highly likely to be turbocharged and it’ll come a year after the new Conti’s launch next March. The V8 version will still have four-wheel drive, engineers say.

See the initial teaser pics of the new car

On the roadThere’s no better evidence of Bentley’s penchant for thoroughness than its decision to redesign the suspension uprights to save unsprung weight and package the optional 21-inch wheels, using a new process called cast forging, which allows the component to be immensely strong, yet hollow.

This improvement works with wider tracks front and rear, the optional 21-inch wheels on ultra-low-profile tyres and rerated springs, its continuously variable dampers and its anti-roll bars to sharpen the car’s agility and improve its handling balance.

There’s a new, more sophisticated electronic stability control that helps the car cope better with high-corner entry speeds, and allows keen drivers a little more opportunity to allow the car to step out on exit, before the system intervenes. There are three drive settings: Normal, Sport and Off.

Read Autocar's full road test of the current car

Driver's seatThe new Continental GT gets a swoopier fascia, still with white-on-black dials but with a new shape that echoes Bentley’s ‘winged B’ badge.

There’s a new, more modern touch screen to control non-driving functions, such as navigation, ventilation, phone and hi-fi. It also contains a new 30GB hard drive, plus a new, and much more supportive, ‘cobra’ seat design.

The front seats are both thinner and lighter, which means they contribute most of the weight saving and improve rear knee room by several inches.

Rounding off the changes are larger door bins and a new acoustic package, which brings an 11 per cent reduction in car-generated noise at 85mph.Steve Cropley

See all the latest Bentley reviews, news and video

Join the debate

Comments
29

7 September 2010

Looks a lot better - that neat fender-line above the front wheels into the hood looks great. looks far more integrated than before.

7 September 2010

Those rear lights look terrible!!!

7 September 2010

[quote Autocar]The designers have also eliminated one whole body joint (where the front bumper previously met the wings) to give what exterior design boss Raul Pires calls a “more bespoke” look.[/quote]

So this means a new wing if you happen to get a dent by the headlight area? My understanding is that aluminium panels are very difficult to repair. Probably makes near or enough no difference to the owner of a £125K car though.

7 September 2010

[quote 1232123]Those rear lights look terrible!!![/quote]They could be made more distinctive, and might well be when illuminated, but they are in keeping with the strong simplicity of the overall design. This is the one luxury barge I'd happily swan around in and take the sneers of the Plebs. After all, if you are incredibly wealthy nothing anybody says can insult you.

7 September 2010

Yes, it does look very good and more cohesive than the already imposing first generation. It's certainly a desirable car; the saloon version (any word on that?) should be even better.

7 September 2010

Too little too late on what is already an 8-year-old design. There is very little done to improve efficiency, at least to try to bring emissions down (mileage not being so important in this category). Where's the direct injection, stop-start, lower mass or 8-speed tranny? They're all available from it's cousin A8, yet missing in what is supposedly a higher rung in the VW Group lineup.

My guess is limited resources (self-generated, not that VAG is lacking) and/or weak leadership to replace their aging best-seller. It's behind the times at birth, and Jaguar just overtook them in every conceivable aspect, IMHO.

7 September 2010

Ok, so they got rid of the bumper to create a "more bespoke look" then held the spoiler/airdam/bumper/whatever on with visible fasteners! Makes it look like an afterthought.....

7 September 2010

Is this an all-new 2nd generation model, or merely a facelift, because apart from a different front and rear end I really am struggling to see any differences. May be if I saw pictures of new and old parked to each other i'd spot the changes.

While evolutionary design isn't a bad thing, surely an all-new model should look a bit more different than this. Maybe the VW Golf approach should have been followed in this instance - looks different but still recognisable as a Golf.

7 September 2010

"...identical in length, height and wheelbase..."

Erm, thats cos' its the same car.

This is a minor facelift and nothing more.

Autocar: Please stop calling it a new car!

7 September 2010

Lets get serious for a moment; that boot lid looks awfully small. There's no way I'm buying this if there's a risk of scratching my Louis Vuitton luggage.

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