By Sam McEachern
The Bentley Continental GT has made its official debut, riding on an all-new platform and offering up a new version of Bentley’s 6.0-liter W12 engine.
The 2018 Continental GT rides on a new adaptive chassis that is closely related to Volkswagen Group’s MSB platform employed in the latest Porsche Panamera. Bentley’s Dynamic Ride System returns, which uses actuators in the anti-roll bars to adjust the chassis stiffness, and is joined by new three-chamber air springs, electronic variable power steering and continuous damper control. Huge 16.5-inch brakes now sit up front (15mm larger than before) and hide behind standard 21-inch wheels or optional 22-inch lightweight forged units.
Under the hood is a heavily revised version of Bentley’s twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter W12 engine making 626 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired with a new eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission which is claimed to provide faster shift times and extra-smooth operation. A new all-wheel drive system allows for variable amounts of front-to-rear torque split depending on the driving situation – replacing the old 40:60 front-rear split system. Bentley claims a 0-60 mph time of 3.6 seconds and a top speed of 207 mph for this new Continental, compared with 3.9s to 60 and 206 mph for the 2017 model year car.
Those performance improvements are appropriately joined by a sportier appearance. The lower and longer look was afforded by moving the wheels further forward, while the Continental’s signature ‘power line’, which runs from the headlights to the rear haunches, is much more pronounced. The rear represents a radical departure from the previous car with headlights housed in ellipses designed to look like the twin exhaust tips located beneath them. The headlights, meanwhile, are made of fine cut crystal glass and LED Matrix lamps – a combo that Bentley says makes them look like an illuminated gem.
The opulence continues inside with “the highest-quality natural leathers” and “sustainably sourced veneers.” A wraparound dash meant to evoke the double-winged Bentley badge envelops the interior and also houses a large 12.3-inch digital display with Apple CarPlay. A new ‘diamond in diamond’ upholstery design is available (pictured) and is joined by 15 different carefully selected colors for the hides and carpets. Buyers will get a choice of three audio systems: a standard 10-speaker 650 W system, a 1,500 W 16-speaker Bang and Olufsen system and, for the audiophiles, a 2,200 W 18-speaker Naim system.
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There are a number of optional extras, too. A City Specification pack offers hands-free trunk opening, pedestrian warning, traffic sign recognition, city braking and a top view camera, while the Touring Specification is focused on long-distance driving with Adaptive Cruise, active lane assist, a heads-up display, night vision with an infrared camera and pre-sense braking. As always, Bentley’s Mulliner customizations division will be happy to personalize the car in just about any fashion a customer likes.
Pricing for the 2018 Bentley Continental GT has yet to be announced. More information should become available when the luxurious GT debuts at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show in a few weeks’ time.