Auto blogFri, 12 Jul 2013 13:29:00 EST
It's been almost a year since we first laid eyes on the Bentley Continental GT3, but this race-bred Continental GT is finally ready to show off its moves. After debuting last year at the Paris Motor Show, the Continental GT3 makes its racing debut today at the Goodwood Festival of Speed before competing in the FIA Blancpain Series next year.
While Bentley released some of the car's details last month, we now have all we need to know about this car such as its curb weight of less than 2,866 pounds, its 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 packing 600 horsepower and four-way adjustable suspension dampers. The exterior of the car stays true to the design of the Continental GT but has been given a once over to improve aero, and the interior has been stripped down to the bare essentials for racing. This doesn't mean that all luxury was thrown out the window, though, as the Continental GT3's steering wheel, door pulls and seat are all covered in hand-stitched leather. Scroll down for the official press release as well as a video showing the car in action.
Despite having a rich history of creating comfortable cars for the chauffeured elite, Bentley has also had an edge on performance that its former compadres at Rolls-Royce could not come close to. Because while the Rollers may have been the better cars to be driven in (and some would argue, they still are), the Bentleys were better to drive.
That's still true to this day, where the company, now situated under the umbrella of the Volkswagen Group, still offers all the same luxury and refinement as before, but it also includes even better drivability than before. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Continental range, where a full line of turbocharged 12-cylinder and Speed models are on offer, to say nothing of older Supersports models that were offered and the company's newest venture into the world of racing, the GT3.
But below the Speed cars and the other W12 cruisers, Bentley now offers eight-cylinder power in its Continental range. And despite this more focused approach to offering something a bit more frugal and efficient, it still has quite the focus on driver involvement. We recently spent a week under the summer sun in this droptop V8 GTC to experience just that.
Probably the only time a Bentley Mulsanne could come off as somewhat ordinary is when it shares a driveway with the Bentley State Limousine built for Queen Victoria. That's exactly what's going to happen during the Coronation Festival happening in the Buckingham Palace Gardens from July 11-14, where Bentley will show both cars and more.
Outside of the sedans and a few others Bentley is bringing to the festival, the brand from Crewe will provide a glimpse at what goes in them. An outdoor display of "bespoke" craftsmanship will have specialists from the factory demonstrating how to cross-stitch a steering wheel and how to make cross-banded veneers.
There's a press release below with more information, and the queen's car show awaits you later this week.
YouTuber and car-fan extraordinaire Shmee probably had very little trouble tracking down the Top Gear film crew recently, as the group was putting together an episode that could accurately be described as "excessive." With its flag-waving (literally) Best of British theme, the TG guys gathered a jaw-dropping array of British cars, and parked them all right in front of Buckingham Palace to make extra sure that the point was driven home.
Top Gear hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May were outfitted with a trio of Jaguar F-Types festooned with gigantic Union Jacks, with which to survey the landscape of British motoring glory. In the video below, you'll see that this includes any number of Mini, Aston Martin, Lotus, McLaren, Land Rover, Bentley and Rolls-Royce models (just to name a few), as well as a healthy dose of weird stuff that most people would never guess at being built in the UK. The lawnmowers and military vehicles are especially cool.
Porsche's new LMP1 Prototype isn't the only motorsports news coming out of Volkswagen AG this week. After unveiling its new Continental GT3 at the Paris Motor Show last year, Bentley has released some new images and details as this racecar continues its development. Similar to the Porsche announcement, Bentley's new GT3 marks a significant return to motorsports, only in this case, Bentley hasn't raced a car since 2003 - a winning effort at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
From street to race form, the Continental has dropped about 2,200 pounds by shedding many of the luxury and tech features that make the street-legal Continental GT the car that it is - including 50(!) electronic control units. The Continental GT3 uses the same 4.0-liter, twin-turbo V8 as the road car, but we're guessing output has been tweaked a bit from the standard 500 horsepower. Except for the carbon fiber hood, decklid and doors, Bentley says that the body of the GT3 is a direct carryover from the Continental GT.
Inside, even a stripped interior and full roll cage won't stop Bentley from being Bentley as it gives this racecar the same attention to detail as its road cars - the seats, steering wheel and door pulls all receiving the hand-crafted treatment from the factory in Crewe. There is no word as to when the Continental GT3 will make its racing debut, but more details about the car can be found below in the official press release.
Redefining Super Luxury On A Shrinking Planet
Anyone on Earth with access to the Internet, a television or radio for the last 20 years knows that China is no longer the poor stronghold for strict Communist ideals that it was for much of the 20th Century. (Well, at least not in some places.) Traveling to China twice in less than a month - first to Shanghai for a very international auto show and now to Beijing to drive and review the 2014 Bentley Flying Spur - I've learned that there's no lack of personal wealth, at least in two of the world's largest cities.
And yet, even I think the scene before me is a little bit ridiculous. Here I am, slowly climbing up a hillside to reach a fortification at something called Zhuanduo Pass, where roughly a dozen pristine examples of Western decadence sit idling their hand-built 12-cylinder engines in the shadow of China's revered and awesome Great Wall. Not five kilometers south of here, I'd passed an old man in traditional all-black garb, literally carrying a bundle of sticks on his back from one side of a village to the other. Now as I look through the snug-fitting and silent side glass of the my $200,000+ palace on wheels, I'm more apt to see fat German tourists crisping in the hot Chinese sun while blowing the equivalent of an average Chinese monthly paycheck on lunch and a few Great Wall souvenirs.
Bentley is celebrating the 90th anniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans with two special edition model. Both the Mulsanne and Continental lines can now be fitted with six new specification packages to mark the event, each named after a famous racer from the automaker's past. Each package one combines select exterior colors with with special interior combinations that pay homage to the gents who took the company's cars to victory in France.
John Duff, Dudley Benjafield, Woolf Barnato, Tim Birkin, Glen Kidston and Guy Smith all get their own namesake packages. You can see the full run down in the press release below. So far, there's no indication as to exactly how much each pack will cost, but we have a hard time imagining a dollar figure scaring off any potential buyers.
Loses its Head, Keeps its Bespoke Cool
This is the 10th anniversary of the Bentley Continental GT, the 5,500-pound shim that pried open the market for bespoke luxury at $150K. We're into the second generation of the supercoupe that is still - and we think unfairly - derided as a grossly exaggerated Volkswagen, which to us is like saying the Hulk is just Bruce Banner in a tizzy. There are credible grounds for both statements, but in neither case do they accurately convey the chasm between the alpha and the omega.
Nevertheless, checking off the list of updated models brings us to the Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible, the moderately augmented version of the non-Speed GTC. Back to the notion of unfairness, it's probably just that to say the GT Speed Convertible is only "moderately" changed. It did, after all, take Bentley three years to engineer the changes that separate your 'basic' Bentley from the Speed variant, and although they might be imperceptible, they are numerous.
Bentley may be all hot and bothered with plans for its finally approved ultra-lux SUV, but the marque's attentions may not solely be limited to a two-box range expansion. That's according to AutoExpress, which quotes company CEO Wolfgang Schreiber as being interested in launching a 'four-door coupe' variant of its popular Continental range (pictured). According to Schrieber, "I definitely wouldn't say no to the idea... with the new Flying Spur, we have a model that supports the Mulsanne, and a coupe with four doors could sit below that."
The more rakish sedan isn't tipped to launch before 2016 - the brand will be too busy launching the Flying Spur and furthering work on the as-yet-unnamed SUV to pull ahead the project. The plan would appear to make a lot of sense, as the additional bodystyle on the back of the Continental platform would likely command more money than the rest of the line (see also: Mercedes-Benz CLS and BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe) while basically just being a new top hat on an existing architecture. This isn't the first time AutoExpress has promulgated this Bentley 4DC idea, however. Back in 2010, it offered a similar report, but at that point, it anticipated the model would be cheaper than the Continental, suggesting it would be based on a platform shared with the Audi A7.
AutoExpress notes the additional model would help Bentley achieve its ambitious sales targets to drive from last year's 8,510 units sold to 15,000 by 2018, though most of that volume still figures to come from the new utility vehicle.
A report in Autocar says the next Bentley Continental Supersports will be ready for retail duty in 2014. If true, the coupe is meant to follow the same formula as the first generation, which means weight loss, honed reflexes and "improving braking power," that last one an eyebrow raiser because the Continental series already has some of the largest diameter brakes available on a production car.
A vulgar gain in horsepower isn't planned, however; the Supersports was never primarily about pure grunt, but rather being more connected to the grunt the Continental had. The previous Supersports (Bentley no longer offers it) put out 621 horsepower, but it's said that the coming model will move up to 650 hp, and that would put healthy distance between it and the 616-hp Continental GT Speed.
The Supersports would take a place at the head of the Continental line-up, but be briefly usurped there by a road-going version of the Continental GT3 race car if that comes to fruition. But whereas the street-legal GT3 car would be limited production, the new Supersports would be a series offering.