The Continental GT arrived for the 2003 model year as the first Bentley vehicle launched under Volkswagen ’s ownership. Sold in both fastback and convertible guises, the first-generation Continental GT got its juice from a 6.0-liter W-12 engine. Many special editions and iteration followed until 2011, when the second-gen model was introduced. The redesigned grand tourer keeps its W-12 mill, but a 4.0-liter, V-8 engine was finally added to the lineup. In 2013, Bentley unveiled the Continental GT3 , a race car that marked the manufacturers return to racing. And just a year after the track-only GT3 arrived, the Brits rolled out a special-edition GT3-R coupe to pay tribute to the track-exclusive machine.
To be sold as the GT3-R beginning with the fourth quarter of 2014, the new vehicle sits atop the Continental V8 lineup, boasting more horsepower than any of its brothers, and a bevy of exclusive features and technologies. It’s also the fastest-accelerating, and the most dynamic and responsive Bentley ever built, feats that will likely help sell the 300-unit production run like hot cakes.
Adding to the GT3-R’s appeal is the fact that all examples will be hand-built at Bentley’s headquarters in Crewe before being sent off to the company’s Motorsport division for the final touches. Now let’s see what makes the GT3-R so special.
Updated 08/11/2014: The new Continental GT3-R will make its North American debut at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in August 2014 and will start at $337,000. Deliveries will begin in the first quarter of 2015. Only 99 units will make it to the North American market.
Click past the jump to read more about the Bentley Continental GT3-R.
Although its appearance is not as extreme when compared to the race-ready GT3, the GT3-R is more aggressive than any other coupe in the Continental lineup, including the very powerful GT Speed
Although its appearance is not as extreme when compared to the race-ready GT3, the GT3-R is more aggressive than any other coupe in the Continental lineup, including the very powerful GT Speed . Up front, the main changes are noticeable in the bumper area and on the hood. The lower fascia features three separate intakes, and a closer look at the GT3 reveals that Bentley opted to replicate the pattern adorning the race car’s lower apron. Additionally, a carbon-fiber splitter enhances the coupe’s aerodynamic potential and its plays into its track-oriented nature. Moving over to the bonnet, two vents were mounted in the center to help improve engine cooling and remind customers that they’re hooning a race-inspired street rocket.
Around back, Bentley replaced the huge rear wing seen on the GT3 with a fixed, down-to-earth spoiler, while the track-spec diffuser made way for a production bumper and a twin-exhaust system. When viewed from the side, the GT3-R shows off a gorgeous, GT3-inspired paint job that blends a Glacier White finish and two-tone green graphics. Just like on the race car, one line begins from the bumper, and leads backward over the wheels and onto the door, while the other one follows the shape of the car’s sexy rear haunch. Rounding off the paint scheme is a black line drawn right above the side sills and British flags placed on the front fenders, aft of the wheels.
Complementing the white body is a set of 21-inch, machine-forged wheels crafted from high-strength alloy and finished in Gloss Black. The lightweight rollers come in a brand-new design, and host silver brake rotors and green discs. Other touches borrowed from the GT3 race car include Gloss Black headlamps bezels, and window and taillight surrounds. These replace the regular chrome pieces found on other Continentals.
2015 Bentley Continental GT3-R - Exterior Dimensions
|Wheelbase||2,746 MM / 108.1 in|
|Overall length||4,806 MM / 189.2 in|
|Width (across body)||1,944 MM / 76.5 in|
|Width (inc. mirrors)||2,227 MM / 87.7 in|
|Overall height||1,394 MM / 54.9 in|
|Fuel tank||90 liters / 20 gallons / 24 U.S. gallons|
|Boot volume||358 liters / 12.6 cu. ft|
|Kerb weight (EU)||2,195 KG / 4839 LB|
|Gross vehicle weight||2,750 KG / 6063 LB|
In spite of its racy nature, the Continental GT3-R doesn’t lack the luxury amenities available across the Bentley lineup
In spite of its racy nature, the Continental GT3-R doesn’t lack the luxury amenities available across the Bentley lineup. The brand-new sports seats, which feature updated bolstering and newly designed foam layers, are trimmed in Beluga black leather and diamond-quilted Alcantara. The latter material is also stitched around the steering wheel and the gear shifter, but the two-seat cockpit is not just about leather and soft-touch surfaces, as Bentley used a huge amount of carbon-fiber as well. The center console, parts of the dashboard, and the door casings have all been crafted from this light material. These carbon add-ons not only help the GT3-R ditch even more weight, but provide it with a unique appearance worthy of a limited-edition status.
Contrasting all of the above is a vivid shade of green that found its way into the black cabin in various shapes and sizes. The hue can be found as hide color, contrast stitching on the seats, and as inserts for the instrument panel and door panels. Lastly, "GT3-R" badges adorn the center console and the passenger-side dashboard, while a similar logo is stitched to the headrests.
You know this is no regular Continental as soon as you take a peek inside.
Carbon-fiber dash and GT3-R badging
Displacing 4.0 liters and force fed by a couple of turbo units, the mill works in conjunction with new engine control software that enables it to generate 572 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque
Although initial rumors claimed the GT3-R could have as much as 700 horsepower at its disposal, the car’s V-8 unit delivers less than that. Displacing 4.0 liters and force fed by a couple of turbo units, the mill works in conjunction with new engine control software that enables it to generate 572 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. Those numbers account for a 51-horsepower and 14-pound-feet increase over the V-8’s standard numbers.
Channeling the power to all four wheels via an enhanced all-wheel-drive system with torque vectoring — first time a Bentley has used torque vectoring — is an eight-speed, ZF automatic transmission specifically modified for shorter gearing. As soon as it hits the pavement, the oomph pushes the coupe from naught to 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds, making it the fastest-accelerating, road-going Bentley ever built. But while the short gearing does help in the acceleration department, top speed drops from 192 mph to 170 mph.
Bentley reminds us that the GT3-R’s performance is not just about more power and a revised drivetrain. This coupe also ditched 220 pounds in the development process, which explains why it can reach 60 mph from a standstill 0.4 seconds quicker than the Continental GT Speed, which sports a W-12 engine and has 626 ponies on tap.
2015 Bentley Continental GT3-R - Drivetrain/Specifications
|Type||4.0-litre twin-turbo V8|
|Max Power||580 PS / 572 bhp / 426 kW @ 6,000 rpm|
|Max Torque||700 Nm / 516 lb.ft @1,700 rpm|
|Transmission||ZF 8-speed automatic with Quickshift, Block Shifting and separate Drive, Sport and Tiptronic modes. Steering-column-mounted paddle shift.|
|Driveline||Continuous all-wheel drive (40:60 rear bias) with torque vectoring|
|Top speed||170 mph / 273 km/h TBC|
|0-60 mph||3.6 secs|
|0-100 km/h||3.8 secs|
Suspension And Brakes
In addition to the dynamics provided by the new ESC system, the GT-R also benefits from a lot more grip due to its lightweight wheels being shod in high-grip Pirelli tires
Besides being faster than any other Bentley, the Continental GT3-R is also the most dynamic and responsive vehicle to come out of Crewe. Fitted with a reconfigured Electornic Stability Control system and sitting on a chassis tuned for improved cornering ability, the coupe is likely to give the Porsche 911 Turbo a run for its money at the Nurburgring. Of course, we don’t expect the GT3-R to win such a battle, but it should put on quite an acoustic show thanks to its all-new titanium exhaust.
Bentley Continentals are known for their smooth ride and handling, but will the sportier GT3-R offer a similar comfort? Apparently yes, because Bentley used updated versions of the air springs and dampers found in the Continental V8 S. The V8 S is already a segment leader in terms handling and ride, and a few tweaks can only improve the experience in a GT3-R. In addition to the dynamics provided by the new ESC system, the GT-R also benefits from a lot more grip due to its lightweight wheels being shod in high-grip Pirelli tires.
Stopping this monster on both roads and tracks is Bentley’s already famous Carbon Silicon Carbide (CSiC) braking system. It consists of 420-mm (16.5-inch) discs with eight-piston calipers up front and 356-mm (14-inch) discs out back and absorbs up to 10 megajoules of energy in a single stop. That’s enough energy to power a family home for six hours and fairly impressive for a road-going car that doesn’t wear a McLaren or a Ferrari badge.
The new Continental GT3-R will be put on sale at a price of $337,000. Deliveries will begin in the first quarter of 2015. Only 99 units will make it to the North American market.
Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG
The CL63 AMG is arguably one of the quickest and most luxurious grand tourers on the market. Powered by a twin-turbocharged, 5.5-liter V-8, the coupe packs 536 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. It needs only 4.4 seconds to reach the 60-mph mark from a standing start and hits a top speed of 186 mph. These numbers are achieved with help from a seven-speed automatic transmission that can be operated by steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
The German coupe comes with a long list of standard features. The cabin is packed with leather and wood trims and the sports seats are heated, ventilated, and include a massage function. Technology-wise, the CL63 AMG is fitted with anything from front/rear parking sensors to Active Lane Keeping Assist and even a proximity key. Pricing starts from $154,600 and goes up from there.
Gallery Mercedes CL63 AMG and CL65 AMG
Aston Martin DB9
The DB9 received a few nips and tucks for the 2013 model year. Although not major, the update will keep the grand tourer fresh until 2017, when the next-generation model is rumored to arrive. Unlike the GT3-R and the CL63 AMG, the Aston Martin DB9 still carries a naturally aspirated engine in the form of a 6.0-liter V-12. The unit churns 510 horsepower and 457 pound-feet of torque that reach the wheels through a six-speed Touchtronic box.
The coupe screams from 0 to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds, making it a full second slower than the Bentley GT3-R. However, the Aston Martin is capable of greater top speeds that can reach up to 183 mph. Its interior is elegant and boasts some of the finest leathers the Brits have crafted. Losing weight was a major concern for Aston Martin when updating the DB9, prompting the manufacturer to introduce a pair of Kevlar and carbon-fiber seats that trimmed 37 pounds off the car’s total weight. The DB9 starts from $185,400 in the United States.
Gallery Aston Martin DB9
The GT3-R is too heavy for its competitors
I’m particularly happy each time I see a race car morph into a road-going vehicle. Wearing a Bentley badge makes the GT3-R even more special, as it pays tribute to a race car that marked the company’s return to UK tracks after 84 years. The lighter body, the extra power, and the limited-edition run help too, but the GT3-R is not that spectacular. Although it can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph as fast as a Ferrari , the GT3-R is too heavy for its competitors. The vehicle still weighs more than 4,000 pounds and it’s way too big to keep pace with the Porsche 911 . However, we like to believe that the GT3-R will open a new chapter for Bentley and the Brits will come up with a lighter vehicle for the sports car market.
- Unique appearance and interior
- Increased power allows for Ferrari-like sprints
- Enhanced ride and handling
- Limited edition
- Supercar fast to 60 mph
- Still heavy
- Disappointing top speed
- Very expensive
Gallery Bentley Continental GT3-R
Bentley announces the rarest and most dynamic member of the esteemed Continental family of Grand Tourers with the arrival of the new Continental GT3-R. It is inspired by the new Continental GT3 race car that stormed to victory at the second round of the Blancpain Endurance Series at Silverstone, the first UK race for Bentley for 84 years. Blending proven track and road credentials, the Continental GT3-R is a highly exclusive and unique interpretation of performance-focussed luxury, limited to just 300 examples.
All 300 examples of the Continental GT3-R will be hand-built in Crewe and finished in Bentley’s Motorsport division.
Bentley engineers have developed a retuned version of Bentley’s race-proven, high performance 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 for this new two-seater GT. Developing 580 PS (572 bhp / 426 kW) and 700 Nm of torque, together with a 100 kg weight reduction and shorter gearing, the Continental GT3-R is the fastest-accelerating Bentley ever. Capable of reaching 60 mph from a standstill in just 3.6 seconds (0-100 km/h in 3.8 secs), the GT3-R is a Grand Tourer with the performance of a racer.
Complementing the revised powertrain is a further development of Bentley’s renowned all-wheel drive system, which now features torque vectoring for the first time. Together with modified Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and a chassis tune optimised for outright cornering ability, the Continental GT3‑R is the most dynamic, responsive and involving Bentley road car ever.
Wolfgang Dürheimer, Chairman and Chief Executive of Bentley Motors, comments:
“The experience of driving a Continental GT3-R is awe-inspiring, and takes the dynamic abilities of our Grand Tourer to new heights. We were inspired to create something extremely special for the road by the performance of our Continental GT3. It is a celebration of the Bentley passion for building outstanding drivers’ cars. To be a true Bentley, the GT3-R had to be the most luxurious track-inspired Grand Tourer ever, and this car pushes our trademark combination of luxury and performance to a new level.”
A Revised Powertrain Developed For Acceleration
For the GT3-R, Bentley’s powertrain division set about developing a special combination of engine, driveline and exhaust to create an evocative, powerful yet efficient system. Bentley’s popular and widely acclaimed 4.0-litre twin‑turbo V8 engine, now race proven by the Continental GT3, has been fitted with precision-honed high-boost turbochargers and developed with new engine control software to liberate 580 PS at 6,000 rpm and 700 Nm of torque from 1,700 rpm.
This increased power is fed through the Continental’s eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox, now with shorter output gearing to enhance acceleration, to Bentley’s renowned all-wheel drive system. For the first time for a Bentley, the drivetrain has the ability to control the torque at each of the rear wheels through the use of torque vectoring. Recalibrated control software means that Drive and Sport modes are moved further apart, each with different characteristics and with Sport mode designed for more spirited driving. Maximum driver control is provided by completely recalibrated paddle shift functionality.
A soundtrack appropriate to the new levels of performance is provided by an all-new titanium exhaust, which not only provides a weight saving of 7 kg but also has allowed Bentley’s acoustic engineers to give the GT3-R a unique baritone roar.
A Chassis System For Ultimate Driver Engagement
To provide a dynamic capability unmatched in the Grand Touring sector, the GT3-R receives a chassis system focussed on performance whilst retaining a cossetting level of refinement for everyday use. Air springs and dampers use a development of the sports-tuned setup from the Continental V8 S, already recognised as the best-handling Bentley ever, while lightweight forged 21” wheels and high-grip Pirelli tyres deploy the torque-vectored power output of the engine.
This combination, together with a sport-focussed Electronic Stability Control programme, offers a Continental with a new level of handling dynamics and turn-in agility, while both the chassis and powertrain respond immediately to throttle inputs.
Deceleration is via Bentley’s record-holding Carbon Silicon Carbide (CSiC) braking system. 420 mm front discs are slowed by 8-piston calipers finished in eye-catching green paint, while 356 mm discs are fitted to the rear axle. With the ability to absorb up to 10 megajoules of energy (enough to power a family home for six hours) in a single stop yet remain fade resistant, Bentley’s CSiC brakes are an engineering masterpiece in their own right.
Commenting on the performance of the new Continental GT3-R, Bentley’s Member of the Board for Engineering, Rolf Frech, comments:
“We wanted to develop our powertrain and chassis systems further than ever before for the GT3-R project. The result is a Continental GT that is more dynamic than ever, with a torque vectoring system that neutralises understeer and a chassis tune that is both direct and forgiving. We’ve differentiated the Drive and Sport modes further to give the driver a choice between a relaxed and refined Grand Tourer and a sharp supercar with instant responses. The reflexes of the car are matched by the throttle response from our redeveloped V8 engine, and the new turbochargers eliminate turbo lag. Bentleys are rewarding drivers’ cars – but dynamically, the GT3-R is our finest hour yet.”
Delivering Luxury Together With Extreme Performance
All Bentleys are a combination of luxury and performance, and the Continental GT3-R is no exception. Featuring a unique two-seat cabin handcrafted from carbon fibre, Alcantara® and the finest leather, the GT3-R is as breathtaking in its approach to interior design as to its dynamic ability.
The two-seat configuration includes a pair of new bespoke sporting seats with additional side support through deeper bolsters, including newly designed foam layers for comfort and finished in Beluga black leather with diamond-quilted Alcantara®. This exquisite material is also hand-trimmed to the steering wheel and gear shifter, while the centre console and fascia panels are handcrafted in carbon fibre. Carbon fibre is also used to create beautifully sculpted door casings that also include diamond-quilted Alcantara® inner panels. In place of the rear seats is a new uniquely trimmed rear cabin, complete with a carbon fibre surround and finished in leather and Alcantara®.
Contrasting the Beluga leather and motorsport-inspired materials is a vivid accent green, used as a hide colour on the seats, instrument panel and door panels and in contrast stitching throughout the seats and diamond-quilted areas. GT3-R badging adorns the centre console, passenger-side fascia panel and sill treadplates, while the seats receive GT3-R stitching to the headrests in contrast-green thread.
Dramatic and Purposeful Exterior Style Statements
For the exterior of the GT3-R, Bentley’s Design team was tasked with creating a more purposeful stance than ever before. A new front splitter provides an assertive look to the front of the car, balanced by a new fixed rear wing fitted to the boot lid – both finished in exquisite carbon fibre. The bonnet incorporates two vents to improve the cooling capacity of the powertrain system for repeated accelerations while also invoking the shape of the Continental GT3 racer in a styling element where form follows function.
The gloss carbon fibre contrasts with the Glacier White paint that all 300 cars will be finished in, and the inspiration of the Continental GT3 race car is highlighted by the use of two-tone green graphics that trace the two power lines to the side profile of the car – one leading backwards from the front wheel, the other tracing the shape of the Continental GT’s iconic rear haunch.
Further inspiration from the Continental GT3 is reflected in the finishing touches to the exterior – the headlamp bezels, matrix grille, window surrounds and bumper strips – all finished in stylish gloss black.
The visual appeal of the Continental GT3-R is completed by an all-new lightweight 21” wheel, machine-forged from high-strength alloy and finished in gloss black.
Purchase of the car also includes free standard servicing for four years (at the 10,000, 20,000 and 30,000 mile marks). Order books for the Continental GT3-R are open now, with deliveries to start late in 2014.