2004 Bentley Continental GT

20 Sep 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on 2004 Bentley Continental GT
from Bentley Press Featuring a 6-litre, 12 cylinder, engine with more 500bhp driving all four through a paddle-operated, six speed gearbox, the Continental GT offers supercar performance combined the interior space, versatility and of ownership to make it not merely as an everyday car, but a natural for the In this respect as well as others, Bentley believes the GT to be unique.

The Continental GT is being and engineered by Bentley at Crewe and be manufactured there in all-new that combine state of the art with the unique hand and attention to detail that been the hallmark of all cars to the winged ‘B’. It goes on in the second half of 2003 and bring the prospect of Bentley to a wider audience of discerning than ever before. And the Continental GT is a Bentley from to bumper, the role of the company’s parent can scarcely be ignored.

The of building a new Bentley coupй is not new indeed it has been alive at for over 20 years. But it was only the million vote of confidence in the marque by VW that brought the to reality. And VW has more than made funds available to an all-new car.

It has also Bentley to transform the Crewe into a thoroughly modern of manufacturing excellence, ensuring not that Bentley is in better today than ever, but guaranteeing its design, engineering and sovereignty as far into the future as it is to see.


An all-new coupй, inspired by the finest Touring traditions but designed, and built using the most techniques blended with Bentley craftsmanship.

The fastest coupй in the world with a top in excess of 180mph (290km/h) and (100km/h) of under five

Powered by a Bentley-designed 6-litre, W12 engine developing more 500bhp. Tuned to provide not massive power, but also the Bentley delivery achieved by the coincidence of high torque at low

Drive is sent to all four a first for a Bentley – as is the operated, six speed automatic All-wheel drive and electronic programme were considered not only for the Continental GT’s but also to provide year-round in all conditions.

Styled in house at design studios in Crewe to all traditional Bentley design into a totally contemporary Packaged to seat a family of in comfort and to provide enough space for a fortnight’s driving

Styling cues include cabin, minimal front pronounced haunches, distinctive featuring large inner flush mounted rear that rises at speed.

entirely in the virtual world, the very latest digital

Chassis designed by Bentley to provide responsive handling with an effortlessly absorbent quality consistent with GT’s Grand Touring


The styling story of the GT dates back to August when newly appointed of design, Dirk van Braeckel was to prepare a concept for an all new Bentley one that would use 80 years of design as its inspiration, yet look to the future in its shape. It took four months – just before Christmas when van Braeckel submitted his design to the board of Bentley

It was approved on the spot. ‘I’m staggered it took four says van Braeckel. ‘When you a car there’s always a story to and this one involved gathering the team of designers, all of whom what we were trying to It’s a very emotional and that’s the way we approached it. It was a magical

The key to honouring Bentley’s design without simultaneously creating an ‘retro’ car, was to take the philosophy that inspired such as the Bentley Speed Six of and the 1952 R-type Continental and use it in an contemporary context. ‘What you are for,’ says van Braeckel, the things that gave cars such presence and a that shouted ‘Bentley’ at who looked at them. It translated from the pre to the post-war era and so it does there to the present day. that and you can forget about the

Bentley’s design philosophy for the GT can be quantified as follows: the car must a short front overhang and an dominant bonnet expressed by the large distance between the axle line and the A-pillar.

The cabin itself needs to be and compact while the rear should be taut and pronounced, the impression of a crouching animal to pounce.

Overlaying these highlights is a design language straight from the hearts of the team. It dictated that the GT be styled to be curvaceous and sinuous a form that appears and like muscle on a gymnast’s sculptural yet lean.

Finally was what van Braeckel refers to as the ‘jewellery’. Because the shape of the car is complex and to suit its sporting it was decided that brightwork be minimised, limited to the door a finish along the sill, the surrounds and radiator grille. But the themselves assume a dominant in the styling signature with the units being the larger of the two both in tacit acknowledgment of Bentleys, but also to draw to the most distinctive Bentley of all: the matrix radiator

Having achieved such a design, it would have easy to compromise given the challenges of such a high car. For instance, any car capable of three miles away in 60 seconds clearly needs optimised aerodynamics to keep it at such speeds, and clamping a rear spoiler to the bootlid have been one way of ensuring

In fact the aerodynamics department at formed in 1999, had a rather elegant solution in mind. The GT is indeed fitted with a spoiler, but one so skilfully integrated the design of the car, where the screen meets the bootlid; it is for the part invisible, deploying when high speed additional downforce.

Another feature of the styling of the car is the Central Mounted Stop Lamp, somewhat awkwardly in the industry as the Regulations require the CHMSL to a certain area, but do not dictate its So, some free thinking and the Continental GT is fitted with a that is just 3mm tall but one metre wide.

The effect of is that it has no negative impact on the styling, while at the same ensuring that the driver of the car is left in no doubt at all when the are being applied.

Interior and style

The cabin of the Continental GT is to make Bentley devotees and newcomers feel equally at Those familiar with the way of doing things will be comforted and cosseted by the expanses of top hide and fine wood those for whom Bentley is a new experience will discover a new of luxury, style and effortless taste.

Most notable is the symmetrical nature of the facia a centre console rising up and left and right in front of the and driver in a shape that reflects the design of the famed wings. It also has the effect of the same atmosphere on either of the car so that the passenger feels as much part of the action as the

For the man or woman behind the wheel, a unique driving environment It goes without saying an ideal driving position is achieved – Bentley’s designers have been as far as to New York basketball players to sure all shapes and sizes can be

Bentley is one of few car manufacturers to retain design as an in-house field of and anyone who has travelled any distance at all in a knows how important this of design is to the marque. The particular with the Continental GT was to offer a comfortable seat complete considerable front and rear a multitude of electric adjustments and seat-belts.

Seat-belt performance is one of the most important safety of any car, and those in the front have their upper in the B-pillar. With a pillarless like that of the Continental GT, this has not been possible and designers are pleased not only to met all the safety targets of the integral and belt, but to reach them compromising the interior style of the

Those used to sitting in the of most high-performance coupйs scarcely believe the amount of that has gone into the rear cabin. Far from as afterthoughts, the rear seats been designed with the care and attention as those in the Back seat passengers sit apart with deeply recesses for their elbows, adults ample personal

The toughest task facing of all luxury car cabins these is to present the controls and information in a way that is both uncluttered yet to use. At one theoretical extreme is the car every function or display has a of its own, at the other is the car with one and a single display for all the car’s Bentley’s solution is to use intelligence, sense and ergonomic know-how to the best elements from extremes, and combine them in a that is both effective and

Most routine operations frequently when the car is in motion such as the cruise and basic controls – can be operated from the steering wheel. functions such as the air-conditioning, computer information and more entertainment features are individually but displayed on the same screen in the middle of the centre console.

is provided by classically styled that live in deep ahead of the steering wheel, a small screen directly in the sight-line monitors all relevant systems.

All around the cabin, Bentley touches abound. most easily spotted are the bullseye ventilation outlets their organ stop – a feature no Bentley has without for a generation. Then are the aluminium pedals, chrome surrounds, knurled finishes to of the ancillary controls, and the centrally analogue clock.

Naturally and leather remain as integral and a part of the Bentley furniture as but they have been to suit the Continental GT’s as the most sporting Bentley since the R-Type Continental, that these most materials can still create a feel if understood and used

Though craftsmanship remains as as ever, these enduring have been supplemented by 21st century technology for instance, wood to be dramatically in a way that would simply not been possible in the past. And the leather is still applied to the car as much loving care as it is cut from the hide using a new process that ensures levels of wastage and maximum


The design brief for the GT was as simple to state as it was difficult to create a car with as much as the most spacious coupйs on the equip it with the performance and of the world’s most dynamic and retain the whole within dimensions.

There are many raised by such a demanding and it took sizeable measures of sky thinking and detailed innovation it could be realised.

But go looking for the key to providing sufficient interior and you’ll need to start search under the bonnet. you will discover that the of the Continental GT’s interior is, in fact, its engine. By choosing the architecture of the W12 powerplant used in the VW Group, Bentley’s engineers provided not simply with the to develop it into a unique engine, but also to exploit its packaging attributes.

Instead of two long banks of six cylinders, as on all conventional V12 motors, the W12 staggers the in each bank creating two extraordinarily narrow angle V6 engines sharing a common and giving rise to the ‘W’

This naturally provides a short engine for its considerable and frees up space that can be to the car’s interior. Indeed it is the twelve cylinder engine on the

Even so and allowing for extra provided by the super-short engine, was still some hard to be done if the interior space were going to be met within the roof line of the Continental GT. help was again at hand and time it was provided by history.

One key to interior space is raising the ‘H’ point – the in which the driver and front hips naturally sit, and in all Bentleys is elevated above it would be in a conventional supercar. The are many: first it means the driving position – Bentley hallmark – is secondly it means the driver and hip to heel angle is as close to perfection as is possible. Finally, and a high and upright driving liberates vital room in the for rear seat passengers.

The is a true two plus two, a rather devalued today by applied to cars with more than a ledge the front seats. In the Continental GT it a car capable of carrying two adults and two in comfort for unlimited distances.

less obvious but no less benefit of the Continental GT’s is the omission of a B-pillar. There are aesthetic reasons for adopting the look, but for those inside out and particularly those in the back, the expanse of glass from the to the rear of the cabin provides a of great space and airiness. In the GT the pillarless feature and other touches such as slimmed front headrests mean an view from the rear for a car in this class.

Even the 355 luggage capacity has only achieved through fresh and innovation. In cars of this it is accepted practice to site the tank between the boot and seat, adding to the overall of the car, removing interior and capacity and, crucially, the possibility of loading long through the boot into the cabin. The Continental GT’s tank, however, is under the of the car.

It’s a tricky of design for to house a 90litre there requires it to straddle the tunnel but there’s no doubting the of the result. Not only is there boot space to swallow luggage for a family fortnight if that holiday happens to be to the ski it will take all four of skis inside the car or two pairs of and a couple of snow boards. All of mind, without having to to an unsightly and insecure roof

Design Technology

The Continental GT is the Bentley to have been entirely in the virtual world. is to say every single component, to the smallest washer or bolt was not computer designed, but designed the Continental GT concept alongside other part.

Using the latest CATIA-based Computer Design (CAD) programmes, the GT represents a huge step in Bentley design technology. all components existing in the virtual before a single one is created as a property, it is possible to see how each interacts with all the others, problems and conflicts that, in the may never have come to until the part had been

This process cuts development time and costs rather more importantly, it Bentley’s engineers to design in and consistency in each component and to deliver unprecedented levels of in the finished car.

Indeed, one aspect of the design work is now done in the virtual world Bentley to produce theoretically component designs before the Control Model (DCM) is

The DCM is as close to a mathematically faultless model of the interior and exterior of the car as it is to have.

And it is from this are taken all the measurements used to the tools that will it when production starts, so the of getting it right can scarcely be

Designing the car this way results not in a better built and more product, it is also likely to be too. Bentley’s advanced Crash Analysis (DCA) means much of the trial and traditionally associated with a car with good impact has been bypassed. Indeed so developed are the procedures that engineers can put a Continental GT through a world crash test great confidence that the will vary in no major way those suggested in virtual

Nevertheless it should be understood DCA, as with all virtual work will never real world test nor was it ever designed to. Its role is to ensure that by the time tests are conducted, the product is in as shape as possible to meet new challenge.


Even it had been determined how the Continental GT be powered, two crucial decisions made and set in stone. First, the GT would possess a new level of – one that placed it the very fastest cars on secondly the provision of that would remain inimitably Reconciling these issues require a great deal of but more importantly, huge delivered evenly across the

The W12 formation engine was a natural for Bentley. Not only did it have the to deliver these objectives, it boasted the incredibly compact required to realise the Continental packaging requirements.

Importantly the of such an engine already within the VW Group. While would still need to its own application of it (not to mention the in which it would be assembled), the of taking a known quantity, if as a starting point, are clear to

Once this decision had made, it was necessary to change the specification of the engine to adapt it for the particular purpose needed by the GT. First of all it was clear that the output of the standard engine while impressive for a normally engine – was not going to the kind of power and torque required to make it not only a engine but, more a great Bentley engine.

It was impractical and undesirable to increase the capacity beyond its existing displacement so Bentley’s engineers that it should be turbocharged. induction was first used on Bentley road cars as ago as 1928 with the introduction of the ‘Blower’ Bentleys, while has been a hallmark of Bentley design for 20 years. So, in line modern practice and consistent the Bentley Arnage Series Two earlier this year, the use of turbochargers was selected as the preferred of delivering a dramatic hike in power and torque.

Using two on an engine with two banks of has many advantages over the single turbo method. For a because there are two of them, turbo is much smaller would be a single unit for the same purpose. This they have less and therefore accelerate up to and back from operating speed more quickly, minimising

Two turbochargers also means the catalytic converters can be sited to the exhaust manifold where heat up extremely quickly, greatly reduced exhaust particularly when the engine is

For this application KKK turbochargers chosen and carefully integrated the under-bonnet package.

At the same Bentley’s engineering team the internal componentry of the powerplant all its power, torque, emissions, and durability targets had been met or Further details of these will be released nearer the when the car goes on sale in the half of next year.

For however, it can be confirmed that will make good its to power the Continental GT with an of ‘more than 500bhp’. But is nothing without the torque to it up. The idea that a Bentley be fabulously responsive from little more than revs is not new – indeed it was a set by WO Bentley’s first six cylinder over 75 years ago – but the GT will take the execution of the to new heights, providing relentless from 2000rpm to its red-line.

created one of the world’s most and responsive engines, it was clear an equally extraordinary transmission be needed to transmit its power and to the driven wheels.

The use of four-wheel was decided in the earliest stages of the and if this sounds like of a departure for Bentley – has only ever made drive cars in its past it was felt that this new of power demanded a commensurate of control. Besides, if the Continental GT was to be by its owners to its maximum potential, it need to be not just useable, but at home in all environments from the Monica Boulevard to the compacted surfaces of Alpine resorts.

Nevertheless, in order to ensure the right Bentley feel is to the driver, Bentley’s powertrain and engineers have experimented with the distribution of torque to the and rear axles. This has done to provide the Continental GT all the security of a four-wheel drive but when appropriate, the added fun inherent within a rear-wheel layout.

Providing the link the driven wheels and the engine is a automatic transmission built for by ZF and the first of its type in the world to be in an ultra-high performance coupe. the new transmission was modified by moving the forward, which allowed the shafts to be as far forward as possible, enabling the wheels to be close to the of the car.

But the defining characteristic of transmission, apart from the use of six is its ability to lock its torque in normal driving, providing the immediacy of response expected of transmissions. Despite this, quality is so good that the most obvious evidence of a having taken place is the of the rev-counter needle.

Tiptronic means that the car can be used as a conventional automatic or as a clutch manual where gear take place only on from the driver, via either the lever or paddles mounted the steering wheel. Naturally mechanisms are incorporated to ensure it is not to over-rev the engine when down in tiptronic mode or the car by slowing too much in a high

Bentley Continental

It is a fair observation that a twin-turbo engine with torque does not strictly six gears to keep itself on the Then again, to look at any of Bentley performance in terms of is perhaps to miss some of the of the marque.

It’s true many Continental GT drivers spend much of their allowing the transmission to shift or even using the tiptronic to lock the gearbox in a certain and allow the engine’s massive to carry the car along. However, also knows that of its customers for the Continental GT will be who will relish the prospect of up and down the gearbox at the pull of a or the push of a lever. Under the six speeds seem entirely


Perfecting ride and is one of the most complex and difficult of car design. For the Continental GT designers job has been doubly tough for few if any, have been to market with a greater of excellence in both areas.

so, by starting with well and extremely ambitious targets and applying clear thinking and the of a 25-strong chassis engineering to realise them, the Continental GT has equipped with a chassis should appeal to sybarites and equally. The result is a car with rather than harsh impressive resistance to roll, and heave yet compliant enough to poorly surfaced roads absolute equanimity.

The basis of the GT’s chassis strategy is an stiff body, without even the most sophisticated of systems can be undermined. To this was the very latest in suspension featuring an innovative double arrangement at the front – to minimise torque reactions the steered wheels – and rear axle behind. use of aluminium has been made, in the control arms, to lower mass while the entire subframe of the car is fashioned from steel.

Air springs are used at corner in place of conventional each one containing its own infinitely electronic damper. The application of to an air spring (best thought of as contained within a metal is uniform while coil are subject to side forces in turn, lead to damper the bane of any chassis engineer’s Also the bellows can move different shapes as they and compress, effectively allowing spring rates to be used.

Two advantages of air springs are that can be smaller and therefore easier to than conventional coil and secondly, they allow a car to its static ride height, of load, so the car does not suddenly spongy to drive when laden.

The electronic dampers to the Continental GT do more than a few different settings for the driver to with. Within their set they are, in fact, of adjusting themselves infinitely and without the driver ever aware of it.

A central computer information fed to it from sensors the car and instructs the dampers accordingly, damper is capable of adjusting its control many times a single event, such as a moving up and down over a The key is for the computer to analyse both the body and wheel movements to both remain in harmony each other.

Naturally both traction and the latest Bosch Electronic Programme (ESP) are fitted they can be disabled at the discretion of the The secret to understanding their is to see them as additional to the Continental exceptionally well-mannered dynamic rather than as an essential in keeping a car of these capabilities Bentley knows that of its customers will want to the electronics off from time to and they need to be certain even without these the Continental GT’s handling supremely secure and capable.

of the time, however, the ESP will be but inactive; should it be required by the conditions though, it will be automatically but unobtrusively, so as not to intrude on the driving experience.

The Continental GT is of monitoring a whole range of attitudes such as lateral individual wheel speeds, position and brake pressure. No car can the laws of physics and there are extreme conditions that ESP will be unable to guard but as an extra line of defence for the driver caught out by unexpected its safety value is real and

That said, as the most road-going Bentley since the Continental, the Continental GT is a driver’s car and through and Bentley’s chassis – enthusiasts all – been acutely aware not only must the chassis the raw ability to match perfectly the phenomenal output, it must it in a way that indulges and engrosses its

To this end, a huge of work has been done spring, damper and anti-roll bar to ensure the car has the right sporting on the road. Exhaustive testing of steering geometries has then undertaken to eliminate unwanted reactions, and also to provide the amount of ‘feel’ in the chassis. In the Servotronic rack and pinion has been evaluated to ensure it the right response in terms of but also feedback to the driver.

and tyre choice is, of course, to the development of any chassis, and while continues apace in this the Continental GT will come 19in wheels as standard.

will be provided by all new, disc brakes at each featuring the latest Bosch system with Brake and Emergency Brake Force

Once all the specification of the chassis had determined, the Continental GT was put through the rigorous real world programme of any Bentley in history, a that continues to this From race tracks as the famed original Nurburgring to passes and sinuous switchbacks all the world, the Continental GT is being and re-tested to fine tune its promising chassis specification to ride and handling standards don’t merely rise the class standard but define it.

The Continental GT is equipped with the suite of passive safety As well as possessing exceptional side and rear deformation on impact, there are two front four side airbags and two curtain bags that, for a coupй, each run along the length of the cabin. Seat pretensioners are used for all four

Of course prevention is better cure and avoiding the accident in the place has to be preferable. To this end the GT is specified like few others in the All-wheel drive, when exploited, has colossal safety in adverse conditions, while the traction, stability and brake systems offer further for drivers to extricate themselves danger.

And of course there is the not issue of the powerful engine and its to keep time spent on the side of the road during to an absolute minimum; and should you have to accelerate away trouble, few will do so more than this.


At its the Continental GT is the result of just things: first a deep emotional desire within for over 20 years to create an all new coupe. Secondly there is provision of the financial wherewithal not to create the car, but to do so in a way that Bentley a design, engineering and lead over all potential But the Continental GT still would not been possible without a business case for producing a car and introducing the prospect of Bentley to a greater number of discerning than ever before.

The case is satisfyingly straightforward and on what Bentley believes to be a gap in the upper luxury coupй Currently those looking to buy in sector have a straight between two dramatically differing of car. The first is an uncompromising with minimal or no rear space and miserly luggage Alternatively they can choose a more accommodating coupй, but a commensurate reduction in driving

Those who crave true performance, response and style but the flexibility of a car that seats carries their luggage and can be everyday for all purposes have not provided for. The Continental GT is designed for these people.

Indeed although it is envisaged most Continental GT buyers possess a number of cars in stable, it is also hoped many will find it all their motoring requirements and Nevertheless even the best needs a voice if it is to be heard if, as will be the case with the GT, 75 per cent of those who buy one will not be customers.

These new customers largely be people who already Bentley and would like one of its products, but who either cannot afford one or baulk at the prospect of over Ј150,000 on a car, if they believe it to be worth the Current Bentley customers to be among the most wealthy in the and there is a big step between and another group of still well off individuals who are not comfortable buying cars at Bentley’s price points. These are the at whom the Continental GT is squarely

The profile of the typical Continental GT will also be subtly from that of the existing customer. They will to be younger, with an average age of under as opposed to just 50 years.

Men will still buy more than women, but majority will decrease the overwhelming 96-99 per cent of customers, to a slightly more 85-90 per cent. They be high achieving, hard and more typically owners of own business rather than of public companies.

And while will share a love of performance, quality and craftsmanship all Bentley customers, Continental GT will likely be interested in technology and contemporary design.

The that will be used to these prospects about and them to the Continental GT will be specialised and targeted. Its expanding in motorsport, for instance, is seen not as exactly right for the marque, but a key way of communicating with those for whom the Continental GT was born. those who actually go to races Le Mans and the media coverage it Bentley gains access to the of an already extremely car oriented of people.

More broadly, activities also help understand how Bentley is changing, but how it is more aware of the importance of its than at any time since Motors was bought by Rolls-Royce in

Bentley also aims to its new customers through strategic with other luxury companies, organising joint and promotions, highly targeted marketing and Internet activity.

achieve our aims, we need to be in touch with roughly ten more people around the than at present,’ says Hallmark, member of the board for and marketing. ‘These will be lapsed and prospective customers. We involve them in driving keep them informed of the activities and give them an different and much more treatment than they are to receiving for mass production car manufacturers. We will be charging for our coupй and, for us, justifying with the provision of what we will be a demonstrably better car is not Our customers need to see not just a car but a better company too.’

So despite the Continental GT heralding a increase in production at Crewe, remain small. The global network that stands at 121 will not be expanded beyond 150 in the future, each selling no than a few dozen cars year, so customers know are part of a very small and family of Bentley cognoscenti. And it is a business that runs at such a personal level from the factory gates at where customers can come and their car being built, all the way to own front door that the environment that any Bentley can expect to enjoy.


In all senses, the changes the Continental GT has to Bentley have transformed the beyond recognition. The car itself and the factory in which it will be mark the dawn of a new and thrilling era for the

But in a less tangible but no less way Bentley is actually returning to its values, as defined by the founding of WO Bentley. The strength of any brand in sector is the thought that it, and while there were in the distant past when vision had become little than a nostalgic fairytale, now and it resonates through the walls of the

WO’s proposition is as compelling as it was 83 years ago. He would cutting edge design outrageous performance and superlative to create a potent, authentic and motoring experience. Moreover it have a purpose that it beyond mere recreation and it into something of real use and

And while it would offer comfort and unquestioned luxury as it about its daily business, so it would possess a thinly ability to turn into very special at any moment. are precisely the qualities the Continental GT has engineered to provide and the result is a car of WO Bentley would be justifiably

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