Cover Story - 2004 Bentley Continental GT

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Aug 26, 2003.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Brilliant: Stellar Bentley Continental GT shines as it redefines the marque

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    The elegant design, penned by Dutchman Dirk van Braeckel, has stirred the souls of Bentley lovers around the world—but just 4000 cars will be built in the first year; 35 percent will make it to our shores. Two-piece aluminum wheels shave 10 pounds of unsprung weight from each corner, but the car is still a beast, tipping the scales at 5258 pounds.

    By DUTCH MANDEL
    (00:01 Aug. 25, 2003)

    Everything the general public ever thought right or wrong about Bentley—if the general public ever really bothers to think about Bentley—is about to change. The caricatured stuffy air of overindulgence, the black-capped chauffeur riding bolt upright eyes forward, the owner’s stiff upper lip and superior demeanor and, yes, even that highbrow mustard handoff... All that changes when the new Bentley Continental GT arrives. Why? Because Bentley’s Continental GT is a real driver’s car that may well claim to be the best and most elegant way to travel in comfort, luxury and speed since the Concorde first lifted off the ground.

    Hand it to Bentley. It has toiled the last few years to get people to think of the firm as one that builds sporty transport. Officials have slapped new labels—red, green and black—onto their cars, to which they’ve also given ever-increasing power and torque. They spent years of hard work and lots of parent company Volkswagen’s money contesting, and this year finally winning, the world’s premier endurance race, Le Mans, after a 73-year absence atop the podium. They’ve hosted exclusive parties wherein their cars are centerpieces. They’ve strengthened and reeducated the body of dealers. For goodness sake, they started it all by changing owners so that Bentley is now the glimmering jewel in VW’s crown.

    However, nothing—no thing—will change the perception of the vaunted marque more than time spent behind the wheel of the two-door Continental GT. It is that spectacular.

    We’d like to stop the superlatives there, but how is that possible? Think about this stunningly designed coupe fitted to flawless all-wheel-drive running gear, powered by a thrumming twin-turbo-charged W12 engine, whose interior is little more than leather, wood and elegant craftsmanship. It is a car that goes nearly 200 mph—200 mph!—and costs just $149,990.

    Are you paying attention, Mercedes and Ferrari? A new kid that has moved onto the block will show well against your AMG CL55 and CL65 and your 456 and 460 GT.

    This recipe for superlatives begins with the hardware.

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    A good portion of what lies beneath this Bentley comes straight from the Volkswagen coffers. Behind touch points are electric motors, hoses, the instrument panel and even running gear from VW. And who among us can deny the provenance of a W12 powerplant? The parts sharing is a financial fact that ultimately benefits the consumer so long as attention to marque differentiation is strictly adhered to, which is the case with the Continental GT.

    It’s not as though Bentley isn’t used to sharing bits and pieces. This is the first Bentley in 70 years that is purpose built; all others were badge-engineered Rolls-Royces with “Bentley-esque” modifications. This Continental, so named because it should have the ability to cross the European Continent and arrive in style, might share parts with the highest-priced VW Phaeton, but by its very feel it is all Bentley, all the time.

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    The car benefits in many ways from Bentley’s parent, Volkswagen, where the potent W12 engine was developed.

    Historically, Bentley has been known for its engines; founder W.O. Bentley might have been the first to understand there is no replacement for cubic displacement. This 6.0-liter, 48-valve W12 four-cam delivers the goods: The moment you step on the throttle, power surges from idle. Horsepower climbs in a precipitous arc to a 552-hp zenith at 6100 rpm. The torque delivery when charted on a graph looks like a child’s drawing of a rocky butte: It juts up quickly and then flattens out, reaching peak torque at 1600 rpm, and delivers all 479 lb-ft from then on to 6000 rpm. Talk about freight-train hauling.

    This is a driver’s car, so drive. Even on narrow two-lanes the Continental GT doesn’t feel large, but it is imposing, particularly to cars upon which it appears in the rearviews. Stab the throttle and go for the pass, a sure-footed maneuver—thank the all-wheel drive—with authority. Bentley put the engine ahead of the front axle to make this drive system fit. This required a short engine for the torque converter to slide in behind the front differential, hence the W12. Bentley engineers were able to push the engine back 65 mm (2.6 inches), which aids weight distribution and thus handling.

    The dedicated turbocharger per cylinder bank breathes in fresh air from openings down near the front lights. Bentley has added to the turbocharger a system that, when you lift the throttle, builds and stores pressure in preparation to pre-spool the turbo fans. The result is a virtual elimination of turbo lag, for which you are thankful on any open-road pass. From 70 mph, which requires just 2000 revs of the tachometer in top gear, to 130 mph is an effortless affair. And truthfully, higher speeds could easily be reached on a closed track. Even more power is available than anyone really needs here, a fact recognized by Bentley and articulated well by its marketing commander, Adrian Hallmark.

    “The target customer wants supercar performance with comfort,” Hallmark says. “The engine shouldn’t just make your heart race, but it should make the car fly when you push the throttle. We don’t impose a state of mind with the customers; when they press the throttle it comes to them.

    “We don’t believe that 90 percent of our audience will use the available performance, but we have it there to make sure if those owners chose to do so, they could achieve it. This is not about horsepower or 0-to-60 numbers. It is unique exhilaration and relaxation in a single passion: Bentley-ness.” Still, it will get from a standstill to 60 in a scant 4.7 seconds.

    Hallmark’s words ring as we attack a series of left and right positive-camber turns. The six-speed ZF transmission with a Torsen differential that locks up in all gears gives off a nice mechanical feel. Put the GT in normal drive mode and off you go. Or choose its sporty position, operated manually with the tunnel-mounted shifter or, as we worked it almost exclusively, via wheel-mounted paddles. If you have the car in drive and want it to downshift, hit the correct (left) paddle; 18 seconds later it returns to the drive mode.

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    The four-link front suspension coupled to its trapezoidal multilink rear setup does a wonderful job planting the car. Its 405-mm (15.9-inch) front disc brakes, the largest-diameter discs on any road car, barely but beautifully fit into the 19-inch wheels. To reduce unsprung weight, as well as to lessen any part of its already stout 5258-pound curb weight, Bentley uses two-piece wheels. This move, executives say, drops nearly 10 pounds off each corner over conventional cast steel counterparts. Tires are Pirelli 275/40ZRs all around.

    The way in which Bentley has been showing the car is itself a study in the audience it seeks. Not a mass-market car, only 4000 will be built the first year, of which 35 percent will come to the States. Thereafter, the number of cars coming here increases, but not dramatically. It was first shown at the 2002 Geneva motor show to a select group of executives, suppliers, journalists and potential buyers. That styling buck was then paraded around to other potential buyers in the most select parts of the world. Bentley knows a killing field when it sees it: It rented space at a private country club near the Monterey Historic Races and, in a tent, held private showings for more of the well-heeled. From there it was off to Japan and then to Paris for its first “official” introduction. Still, the die had been cast; raves and pre-sell orders let the new Bentley Boys know they had something special.

    And why not? Even the styling buck showed how the body is an elegant piece of work straight from the soul of Bentley design director, Dutchman Dirk van Braeckel. Two more amazing facts about that organic and voluptuous shape: It was done only using computers and accomplished in an almost unheard of four months’ time. The presence of the car on the show stages around the world is only outdone by the presence of it on the open road. Additionally, with just a 0.32 coefficient of drag, it is as slippery through the air as many exotic sports cars. Its rear spoiler can be set to actuate at different speeds, depending on the market, while a rear underbody diffuser helps reduce lift.

    It is so well engineered using a mix of aluminum, magnesium, steel and cast iron that its stiffness—which helps in ride and handling—is amazing. For example: If you were to attach a three-foot-long steel arm to the front of the Continental GT, a second fully outfitted GT could hang off of it and the “donor” car would experience just one degree of body flex.

    Just a few words on the assembly process. It remains very true to its hand-built heritage, save for two important functions: the marriage of engine to chassis, and the placement of the glass to the body. Those steps require the strength and exactitude only robots can effect.

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    The Continental GT’s interior is liberally swathed in leather and wood, and the dash itself mimics Bentley’s wings logo. Craftsmen spend 18 hours working the wood while 11 cows give up their hides for the interior. And if you’re a PETA member, sorry, no synthetics are offered.

    If you look closely, the interior’s instrument panel fascia is in the shape of wings—much like those on the Bentley badge itself. This is symmetrical and deliberate, as it allows Bentley ease in moving the steering wheel to right- or left-hand drive for its various markets. The air conditioning vents have a jewel feel to them thanks to the blending of two metals that retain both a satin and polished finish.

    The GT has “organ stop” pulls on the dash, whose buttons are machined and look like black onyx shirt studs rather than car switches. The wood is mirror matched, which means the same wood faces both driver and passenger.

    Volkswagen’s ownership has afforded Bentley the opportunity to invest 9 million euros in the company’s wood shop—along with several hundred million euros elsewhere throughout the factory—in an effort to deliver what Bentley owners have come to expect, namely an interior that is all wood and all leather. It takes 18 hours just to produce the wood for each Continental GT interior. By contrast, it takes 18 hours to produce a Volkswagen Golf. Additionally, 11 cowhides are used in the making of each Continental GT; no man-made synthetics are even offered.

    If you’re looking for open-air fun, sorry, there is no sunroof. Rigidity, remember. But a convertible? Well, that’s neither out of the question nor off the product plan. Look for something like that in the future, along with a four-door sedan to show sometime next year.

    “Credibility is absolutely a requirement in this segment,” says Bentley’s Hallmark. “We are immensely proud of our history and we want to add to the Bentley legend.”

    Bentley has left little doubt that the Continental GT will do just that.

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    ON SALE: March 2004
    BASE PRICE: $149,990
    POWERTRAIN: 6.0-liter, 552-hp, 479-lb-ft twin-turbo W12; awd, six-speed automanual
    CURB WEIGHT: 5258 pounds
    0-60 MPH: 4.7 seconds

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  2. jinushaun

    jinushaun New Member

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    Sexiest Bentley ever! :bowdown: :wackit:
     
  3. EPMD

    EPMD I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. A

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    Beautiful!

    T-minus 10....9.....8.....7......until it's in a rap video :wtc:
     
  4. shaitaan

    shaitaan New Member

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  5. interstate

    interstate New Member

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    Eh.. it looks better than the rest of them.. But still doesnt look good..
     
  6. Jeebus

    Jeebus Well-Known Member

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    i cant get over how the back looks like a tiberon :wtc:
     
  7. Mr.Fusion

    Mr.Fusion feast upon my magnificence

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    Wow

    Too bad some rapper will fuck it up :(
     
  8. Supertrapped

    Supertrapped President of 2:73

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  9. The Acclude

    The Acclude Makin' love is cool, but sometimes she needs her h

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    steering wheel looks fox-body ish :ugh2:

    But fucking sexy interior anyway, and the power, :eek: the power :drool: :idhitit:
     
  10. sonicsuby

    sonicsuby New Member

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    nice crossfire :ugh:
     
  11. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Is it the best Volkswagen ever?
     
  12. Chi_Town_GoD

    Chi_Town_GoD Guest

    :werd:
     
  13. hondaluva

    hondaluva likes free hugs...

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    this is a very, very nice car from bentley. I'd get one in Blue, just like my college's colors.

    (btw, I go to bentley college :o )
     
  14. Buck-O

    Buck-O Guest

    Wow, look at that, its a $150k G35.

    Funny everyone hates the G35 and faps the Bently.

    THey have almost the exact same lines. Oh well...:dunno:
     
  15. twistid

    twistid Banged By Super Models Moderator

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    i don't like the front bumper/cover, other than that :bigthumb:.
     
  16. interstate

    interstate New Member

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    I dont like either of them :dunno:

    I've never liked bentleys. Yeah, they're built well, but their design is aged and really unappealing to me. Nothing is cutting edge..
     
  17. They should have built the hundieres. Or however you spell it.
     
  18. jinushaun

    jinushaun New Member

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    Same lines, better detail. :slap: This car looks infinitely better than the g35 saloon or coupe.
     
  19. iZero

    iZero Guest

    That's pretty ugly.
     
  20. iZero

    iZero Guest

    What is that, an early 90's Chrysler steering wheel?
     
  21. xxpanipuri

    xxpanipuri Gideeyup Motherfuckers....

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    Tittywop
     
  22. Nacho

    Nacho Fancy words here.

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    My brother's (Scottish Hooligan) friend's dad has a depost on one. He (my brother) got to go ride in a test drive of one in Chicago before they put the deposit down. He said it was quite pimp.
     
  23. hondaluva

    hondaluva likes free hugs...

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    Thank you!!!!
     
  24. Pottenza

    Pottenza Bangkok Jam

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    i gotta get me one of those.
     
  25. AsianRage

    AsianRage Know about Media Ventures?

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    :werd: X 900000044444323123
     

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