The new 2011 Bentley Continental GT, that was officially unveiled this week at the 2010 International Motor Show in Paris, looks like a quintessence of wet dreams and technological advances of the first decade of the XXI century.
Looks like the response to the new car from the automotive enthusiasts community is so far, um, mixed, but I am totally in love with the second generation Continental.
To my taste, the 2011 model looks a lot more energetic and muscular than the outgoing Continental GT. Mostly, thanks to the car’s beautifully sculpted “coach” line that starts at the front fender than disappears at the rear wing. The double horse shoe on the trunk somewhat spoils the picture, but I am sure that such a solution must have something to do with the vehicle’s aerodynamics.
Although getting about 4 percent more expensive than the outgoing model (and it will probably get even more pricey as the Euro keeps climbing against the U.S. dollar and other major currencies,) the 2011 Continental GT at the same time manages to offer a trifle more oomph with its huge 6-litre, 12-cylinder, twin-turbocharged W12 engine tuned from 552 to 567 horsepower and 700 Nm of torque.
Working together with ZF’s second-generation 6HP28 Quickshift six-speed transmission, which is almost as fast as the trendy Double-clutch transmissions and is capable of double downshifting, the car takes only 4.6 seconds to accelerate from zero to 100 kilometers per hour.
It is still about 0.4 seconds less agile than the 2011 Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG roadster, but, being more of a small but well-furnished study on wheels, rather than an “uncompromised” performance sport car designed to be fast and only barely comfortable, this kind of performance is more than stunning.
Also, knowing Merc’s current reputation as one of the most unreliable luxury cars on both the European and North American markets, one can easily make a choice in favor of the British beast with German DNA in its hot blood.
To be frank, one thing about reliability and durability worries me a little.
The “standard” version of the 6HP28 gearbox is designed to accept torque not higher than 700 Nm, so, mated to VW’s monstrous flex-fuel W12 engine, which is capable of running on E85 bioethanol, the transmission will often work close to its physical limit, which may increase chances of premature wear and untimely death.
It really surprises me that Bentley’s engineers succumbed to pressure from the marketing department and decided not to employ a more expensive “heavy duty” 6HP34 model, which is only slightly heavier than the “HP28” but is capable of transferring as much as 850 Nm of torque to all four of the Continental’s wheels.
Well, I hope that they know what they are doing.
Talking about the four-wheel drive system, I must mention that, unlike the previous version of the car, the 2011 MY vehicle will feature a sportier 40:60 rear-torque bias, making fast cornering a lot more pleasant thing to do. Less experienced drivers, however, will have to treat the new GT with a higher level of respect, since the refreshed vehicle will be more prone to skidding, especially on wet or icy surfaces.
The only problem of the 2011 MY grand tourer is that fellow motorists will have a hard time distinguishing the new model from the old ones in a busy morning traffic. On the other hand, who gives?
Photos: Bentley, ZF
2011 Bentley Continental GT technical specification
Body Type: 2-door coupe
Layout: front engine, 4WD
Engine: 567 hp, 700 Nm, 6.0-liter, W12
Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic, ZF 6HP28
Top Speed: 318km/h (198mph)
0 — 100 km/h: 4.6 seconds
Fuel Economy EPA city / highway / combined cycle mpg (L/100): 11.1 (25.4) / 24.9 (11.4) / 17.1 (16.5)
Exterior Dimensions (L/W/H/Wheelbase) mm: 4806/1944/1404/2746
Ground clearance (inches): N/A
Track (frt/rr): N/A
Curb to curb turning circle (feet): N/A
Curb Weight: 2320 kg
Coefficient of Drag (Cx): 0.33
Seating Capacity: 4 (2+2)
Cargo capacity, max (cu ft): N/A
Payload (max w/ occupants and cargo): N/A
Towing Capacity (max): N/A
Fuel Tank: 90 liters
Direct Competitors: Aston Martin DBS, Mercedes-Benz SL-Class, Jaguar XK Series