Just when you thought that making a regular Bentley Continental GT travel from 0-60mph in 4.5sec was impressive, along comes the GT3-R. The GT3-R’s weight may yet hold it back from being all the driver’s car it could be, but one thing it doesn’t do is prevent it from being devastatingly accelerative.
Partly that’s due to the 572bhp that the 4.0-litre V8 develops, but at least as much is a result of the lower gearing. Yet still there’s no launch control at work here; you simply tense the transmission by easing the accelerator down a touch with the brake pedal applied, then remove your left foot from the brake pedal and stamp the throttle down to the floor with your right foot.
If you have the space and nerve, 60mph will pass just 3.7sec later, which is the fastest time we have ever recorded for a car that weighs more than two tonnes (the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport sneaked just 5kg under that), and the weight doesn’t hold it back much after that, either.
The Bentley passes 100mph in only 8.2sec and completes a standing quarter mile in 12.0sec precisely. That latter time is a second clear of a Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG Coupé and only a second slower than a Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, which, remember, has 731bhp and weighed in at only 1630kg on our scales.
Such are the benefits of the Bentley’s broad powerband and a four-wheel drive system that can vary the amount of power it sends to the front wheels to between 15 percent and 65 percent of the total. There is simply no tyre slip under even maximum acceleration. There is, however, no shortage of drama.
This is partly because you’re shoved firmly into the seats and destined to remain pinned there until the speedo reads well into three figures. But it’s also because, although the GT3-R will not spoil Bentley’s reputation for refinement, in removing some noise insulation and installing the titanium exhaust, the V8 engine has been allowed to emit a bit more of a bellow as it makes its way towards its 6200rpm redline.
It doesn’t do that without turbo lag, even at higher revs, but such is the torque and power when it does arrive that you will never feel short-changed by the response. The automatic gearbox keeps up with it admirably and is more responsive than the large, old-fashioned gear selector and huge, column-mounted shift paddles suggest that it’s going to be.
The brakes are strong, too, as well they might be, given the weight they have to retard time and again. The GT3-R, despite its name, is not really a track car, but they stood up to the abuse of our handling circuit remarkably well.