Bentley is set to give the forthcoming second-generation Continental GT some radical changes in an effort to give the traditional coupé renewed impetus and appeal.
Due to make its world debut at the 2017 Frankfurt motor show in September, the new coupé will not be based on the original Continental GT’s platform. Instead, it has been developed from the ground up as part of a joint project with Porsche and will be built on the Porsche-developed MSB (Modularen Standardantrieb Baukasten) platform, sharing its underpinnings with the latest Panamera. The new Continental GT will also be made as an open-top GTC.
The MSB structure is claimed to provide the new model with greater rigidity, a significantly improved front-to-rear weight distribution and a reduced centre of gravity – factors that promise to endow it with better handling, sharper responses and greater refinement than the current model. Significantly, the new underpinnings provide the scope for both rear- and four-wheel-drive versions of the new coupé.
Additional developments include rear-wheel steering for added agility and a new air suspension system that uses the same triple-chamber plungers as those found on the Panamera.
Such is the level of technology offered by the new Continental GT that Bentley is already describing it as the company’s most advanced model to date.
“It is second to none in terms of the engineering,” a senior official told our sister publication, Autocar UK. “We have been careful to safeguard the traditional qualities built up over the years while adding features that extend its capability to a whole new level.”
Various exterior styling cues for the new Bentley were originally previewed at the Geneva motor show in March 2015 with the unveiling of the smaller two-seat Speed 6 coupé concept.
The second incarnation of the Continental GT is also set to feature an extended range of powertrains, including a new petrol-electric hybrid unit that will offer the potential for zero-emissions driving. A 48V electronic architecture will also enable the car to feature a raft of contemporary driver assistance systems, including autonomous driving technology, according to highly placed sources.
The top-of-the-line Continental GT will continue to be powered by Bentley’s 6.0-litre, twin-turbocharged W12 engine, which will include a particulate filter, among other changes, to meet the stringent new EU-mandated emissions standards slated for 2021. That means the new Continental GT will continue to provide top-drawer performance, including a 0-100kph time of less than 4.0sec and top speed in excess of 306kph. A number of subtle tweaks are expected to swell the engine’s power reserves close to those of the existing Continental GT Speed, which has 635hp and 819Nm.
Below the W12-engined flagship will sit the standard Continental GT model, which will continue with a 4.0-litre, twin-turbocharged V8. However, secrecy surrounds exactly which engine it will use.
Bentley also has the option of introducing a diesel engine to the Continental GT for the first time in the form of the Audi-sourced 4.0-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 motor already used by the Bentayga. However, with the majority of global sales concentrated in the US and China, a diesel model is not a priority for the launch line-up.