Fresh look, more power, new tech for British grand tourer
UPDATE: Bentley's local arm has indicated the new Continental should arrive in Australia during the second quarter of 2018. Pricing, meanwhile, will be revealed closer to launch.
The new-generation 2018 Bentley Continental GT has been revealed overnight, bringing a new look, the availability of high-end technology and even more power.
Now in its third generation, the Continental GT is still instantly recognisable as a Bentley thanks to its imposing front grille and four circular headlights, but now has a squarer and more muscular aesthetic compared to its curvaceous predecessor. The design draws much inspiration from the EXP 10 Speed 6 concept that was revealed at the 2015 Geneva motor show.
Headlining upgrades include an all-new body that is 80 kilograms lighter than the outgoing car, an upgraded version of the company's 6.0-litre twin-turbo W12 engine - now dubbed 'TSI' like all turbo petrol models offered by German parent Volkswagen - mated to a new eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, and the introduction of a new 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay.
Bentley's new infotainment unit sits on a three-sided rotating display, which starts with no screen when the vehicle is off to give the illusion of a seamless dashboard, then when the car turns on the display glides forward and rotates to reveal the touchscreen.
Owners who want a more traditional layout can rotate the display again to show three analogue dials consisting of an outside temperature gauge, a compass and a chronometer.
There's also a new LED Matrix headlights, an interpretation of the Volkswagen Group's digital driver's instruments, and a rear-biased all-wheel drive system.
So far, just the W12 TSI engine has been detailed - it's unknown if and when a turbocharged V8 option will join the range, though the previous model indicates its likely - which now produces 466kW of power and 900Nm of torque. That's 32kW and 180Nm more than the outgoing W12 Continental GT, and the performance gains are equally as significant.
Bentley claims the new Continental GT will accelerate to 100km/h from a standstill in just 3.7 seconds, or 0.8 seconds quicker than the vehicle it replaces, on its way to a top speed of 333km/h (207mph) - which is 3km/h down on the previous car.
Those performance figures also better the previous-generation Bentley Continental GT Speed, which developed 472kW and 840Nm from its twin-turbo W12, was able to sprint from 0-100km/h in 4.1 seconds on its way to a top speed of 336km/h.
Adopting the new eight-speed dual-clutch transmission helps to shift gears faster, while also improving fuel efficiency. The new Continental GT claims combined fuel use of 12.2L/100km, a significant improvement on the previous model's 14.2L/100km.
Drivers can manipulate the shift times through the Continental's selectable driving modes. In 'Sport', Bentley says shifts are "seemingly instantaneous" to deliver maximum acceleration, while in 'Comfort' the gear changes are more relaxed to allow for a more seamless and imperceptible shifts.
Despite having 21-inch wheels as standard and 22-inch rims as an option, the Continental is still claimed to be as comfortable and liveable as ever thanks to its Bentley Dynamic Ride system. A 48-volt roll control system controls and adjusts the electronic actuators on the anti-roll bar of each axle to improve handling and ride comfort.
Like the transmission, the Dynamic Ride system can be adjusted through the Continental's different driving modes.
A revised air suspension set-up compliments the 48-volt ride system, which now features three-chamber air springs with 60 per cent more air volume in the softest setting compared to the previous car.
There's also upgraded brakes, with the front discs increasing 15mm in diameter to 420mm in this latest generation, along with a revised exhaust system with an adaptive valve.
Like all Bentley models, the new Continental GT is available with a range of exterior and interior options so customer can specify to their heart's content.
Some 17 standard paint options are available, with up to 70 exterior hues on offer as part of the extended range. There's also 15 carpet options, eight different handcrafted veneers - including a further four dual-veneer options - and 15 interior hide choices.
For those who want more from their Continental GT, there's also two technology option packs available from launch.
The City Specification package is targeted at those who complete more urban journeys, adding a hands-free boot opening, pedestrian warning, traffic sign recognition, city-speed autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and a 360-degree camera system.
Meanwhile, the Touring Specification aids long-distance journeys, bringing adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, active lane assist, a head-up display (HUD), night vision with an infrared camera, and pre-sense braking.
Additionally, the Mulliner Driving Specification is more cosmetic option, adding 22-inch lightweight forged alloys, unique 'diamond in diamond' leather quilting, embroidered Bentley emblems, additional veneer options, a jewelled-finish fuel filler cap, sports pedals, and an indented leather headliner. Buyers can also opt for personalised stitching in the front and rear of the car, along with personalised treadplates.
The 2018 Bentley Continental GT will make its public debut at the Frankfurt motor show next month.
Speaking with CarAdvice, a spokesperson for Bentley's local division said the new Continental GT will "probably" arrive in Australia sometime in the second quarter of next year, with pricing to be revealed closer to launch.
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