At the Paris International Auto Salon, Bentley is unveiling its Continental GT3 race car concept, signalling the Company’s intention to return to motorsport towards the end of 2013. Bentley is also showcasing its full product range at this year’s Salon. From the hand-crafted, high-luxury Mulsanne saloon through to the 205 mph (330 km/h) Continental GT Speed performance flagship, the models presented on the show stand clearly reflect the unrivalled breadth of this world-famous brand.
Commenting on Bentley’s stand at the Paris Salon, Dr.Wolfgang Schreiber, Chairman and Chief Executive, said “The Paris Salon is a particularly important date in Bentley’s automotive calendar. Exactly ten years ago, the unveiling of the Continental GT concept was a defining moment in Bentley’s history, marking the beginning of the company’s product-led renaissance. Ten years on, the breadth of our model range on display and our announcement to return to the racetrack clearly reflects the progress Bentley has made during that time and the strength of the brand today.”
Currently being developed by a dedicated motorsport team at Bentley’s headquarters in Crewe, the GT3 concept reaffirms Bentley’s philosophy to develop racing cars from their road-going counterparts. Based on the new Continental GT Speed, the fastest road-going Bentley ever, the GT3 concept capitalises on the prodigious performance, outstanding high-speed stability and renowned durability of Bentley’s iconic coupe, while tailoring its specification for the racetrack. Featuring a rear-wheel drive chassis, state-of-the-art motorsport hardware and a comprehensive aerodynamic package, the GT3 is targeted to return to the motorsport arena towards the end of 2013.
Since the launch of the original GT Concept at the Paris Salon in 2002, the W12-engined Continental range has gone from strength to strength with over 50,000 sales worldwide, making Bentley’s factory in Crewe, England, the largest producer of 12 cylinder engines in the world. The W12 story continues to unfold and remains the ultimate expression of Bentley’s engineering strength. Making its debut at the Paris Show this year, the new 205 mph (330 km/h) W-12 engined Continental GT Speed is the fastest road car Bentley has ever produced. As Bentley’s new performance flagship, the Continental GT Speed coupe appeals to driving enthusiasts who place a high value on outright performance and agile handling. The GT Speed develops 616 bhp (625 PS / 460 kW) at 6000 rev/min with 800 Nm (590 lb.ft) of torque available from 2000 to 5000 rev/min for instantly accessible high performance. Coupled with a new ZF eight-speed close-ratio automatic transmission and state-of-the-art engine management software, the GT Speed despatches the zero-to-sixty sprint in 4.0 seconds (0-100 km/h in 4.2s), reaching 100 mph (160 km/h) from a standing start in just 9.0 seconds.
In-gear acceleration is equally breath-taking. The advanced software of the close-ratio 8-speed transmission enables quick-shifting in Sport and Tiptronic modes. The gearbox also features ‘block-downshifting’, enabling combined downshifts for maximum acceleration. Typically, when cruising in eighth gear, full acceleration is achieved by dropping straight down to fourth. While this puts the GT Speed at the very top end of automotive performance, the new model retains the driving refinement, supreme comfort, peerless craftsmanship and contemporary luxury associated with Bentley cars.
The 567 bhp (575 PS / 423 kW) W12 powertrain of the Continental GT coupe and GTC convertible models also benefits from enhancements made to the more powerful GT Speed. In addition to the new engine management system and eight-speed transmission, all W12 engines now feature an energy recuperation system. Together, these deliver a 12% improvement in fuel economy and CO2 emissions across the GT W12 range and a 10% improvement for the GTC W12. Already acclaimed for its crisp, sculpted design, the GT Speed display car is fitted with the Mulliner Styling Specification, a range of Bentley-designed styling options which provides customers with the opportunity to personalise their new GT or GT Speed.
The Mulliner Styling Specification’s Classic Pack features a unique front bumper splitter, strakes integrated into the front intake grilles, side extension blades and a rear diffuser, all made from high-gloss, black carbon-fibre. These are complemented by a range of individual design options, comprising black, carbon-fibre rear spoiler and door mirror cowls as well as distinctive, black-painted 21-inch ‘Elegant’ alloy wheels and dark mesh front wing vents with black carbon-fibre bezels. Also making its Paris Salon debut is the Continental GTC V8. Powered by a new 4.0 litre, twin turbocharged V8, the Continental GTC convertible and its GT coupe stablemate achieve exceptional standards for power-to-emissions in the high luxury sports car sector.
The new engine delivers maximum power of 500 bhp (507 PS / 373 Kw) at 6000 rev/min and an extraordinary peak torque of 660 Nm (487 lb ft) which is available across virtually the entire rev range, providing exhilarating performance and effortless power delivery in the Bentley tradition. This translates into a 0-60 mph sprint time of 4.6 seconds for the GT coupe (0-100 km/h in 4.8 seconds) and a top speed of 188 mph (303 km/h). At the same time, the new V8 Continental models achieve outstanding levels of fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions for the luxury performance sector and are capable of travelling over 500 miles (800 km) on a single tank of fuel. The instantly recognisable growl of the new 4.0 litre V8 engine sets it apart from its Bentley siblings.
The Mulsanne is a pure example of the Grand Touring Bentley combining coach-built elegance and hand crafted luxury with immense power and sportiness that together offer the world’s most exclusive driving experience. It is a luxury car that makes the joy of driving its central focus. In an era of mass production, it stands at the pinnacle of British luxury motoring. Bentley is showcasing a highly distinctive and sporting interpretation of its flagship Mulsanne at the 2012 Paris salon this year. The MDS blends a range of striking design features including unique 21-inch alloy wheels, Bentley Flying ‘B’ wing vents and Diamond Quilted leather trimmed cabin with driver-selectable, sports-tuned suspension and steering, underscoring the performance credentials of Bentley’s 6.75 litre V8 ultra-luxury sports sedan.