Bentley spokespeople are quick to correct you if you ask exactly what the Porsche-developed MSB platform has allowed the company to do differently with this new Continental GT.
That’s because the MSB was a group-wide project with which key Bentley people were involved at the earliest stages, so it’s probably no fairer to say that the Continental is built on Porsche underpinnings than the Panamera is made on Bentley ones.
Semantics aside, the new platform has allowed the two-door GT to grow slightly in every dimension but most notably between the axles, where more than 100mm has been added to the wheelbase.
The car’s monocoque is built from a mix of aluminium and high-strength steel and is dressed in superformed aluminium bodywork, except for at the rear, where a composite plastic bootlid features.
Under the bonnet, you’ll find Bentley’s familiar 6.0-litre W12 engine, recently re-engineered with new cylinder heads to allow both direct and indirect fuel injection and cylinder-shutdown variable-displacement running. It provides 626bhp and 664lb ft – a 44bhp improvement on the car’s direct predecessor and quite a lot more torque than even the outgoing GT Speed produced.
But critically, the new platform and transmission allow that engine to be carried 135mm further aft than it used to be relative to the front axle line. By Bentley’s own figures, fore-aft weight distribution improves from 58/42 to 55/45. We measured it at 54/46.
Downstream of the engine there is wholesale change too. Out goes the old GT’s torque-converter gearbox and Torsen-centre-differential-based driveline and in comes an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox with a dual-mass flywheel and a drive system that sends torque primarily to the rear axle but can divert just under half of it to the front axle when necessary.
Suspension is via the same three-chamber air suspension the Panamera uses, and Bentley’s chassis engineers claim it gives the car a ride and handling configurability that can be ‘“S-Class-like” at one moment and “911-like” the next. Bentley’s 48V active anti-roll bars also feature.
The overall weight saving for the car? By Bentley’s figures, it’s 80kg. Not much in light of all that change, perhaps, because there’s quite a lot of new technology that has gone into the cabin; but it speaks volumes about what Bentley thinks its customers really want in their cars.