TrackWorthy - Bentley Continental GT Convertible (22)

Third Generation Bentley Continental GT Convertible is Lighter and Faster

by TrackWorthy,

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“Elegant understatement that forces you to look; engineering excellence you’ll take for granted…”Adrian Hallmark, Chairman and Chief Executive, Bentley Motors
Bentley has unveiled its all-new, third generation Continental GT Convertible. It is capable of rocketing from zero to one-hundred km/h in just 3.8 seconds thanks to its 626 hp W12 engine, eight-speed dual clutch transmission, all-wheel drive and a 20% reduction in structural weight.

“Elegant understatement that forces you to look; engineering excellence you’ll take for granted – the extraordinary breadth of capabilities offered by the new Continental GT Convertible is unique and can only be offered by our noble British brand,” said Adrian Hallmark, Chairman and Chief Executive, Bentley Motors. “We have been building luxury Grand Tourers since the company was founded in 1919 and, as we approach our centenary year, the Continental GT Convertible joins a highly acclaimed range – arguably the strongest and most technologically advanced portfolio of products the world has ever seen in one luxury brand.”

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The convertible top can be raised or lowered in 19 seconds at speeds of up to 50 km/h. Newly designed neck-warmers in the heated seats, along with heated steering wheel and, new for 2019, heated armrests, will keep driver and passenger warm in fall and spring motoring.

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Available at launch is Bentley’s 6.0-litre, W12 TSI engine. Designed, developed and hand built in Crewe, England, it is the most advanced 12-cylinder engine in the world and produces 626 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque. Mated to a dual-clutch 8 speed transmission, acceleration from zero to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds. Top speed is 333 km/h or 207 mph. The new powertrain uses the latest engine management technology with 300 million software calculations per second.

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The new engine utilises Start-Stop technology and, in Bentley’s advanced application, coasting is also made possible. The engine rests not only when the vehicle is stationary but also at near-to-stop speeds. Bentley’s Variable Displacement system shuts down half of the engine under defined conditions. Intake and exhaust valves, fuel injection and ignition are all shut down on defined cylinders, with the engine running as a six-cylinder for improved efficiency.

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The Convertible’s profile is longer and lower than the prior generation due to the positioning of the front wheels, which are 135 mm further forward. This has allowed the hood to be extended and the nose to be lowered. The key signature power lines of its coupe sibling still dominate, flowing back towards the muscular rear haunches.

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The Continental GT Convertible has 21” Five Tri-Spoke wheels as standard, with the option of 10-Spoke and 22” Five Open-Spoke wheels. These three wheel designs are offered in a selection of ten polished and painted finishes.

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A new Active All-Wheel-Drive System replaces the traditional 40:60 power delivery split between front and rear wheels respectively, instead varying the front-to-rear torque split dependent upon the driving situation.

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The third generation of Continental GT Convertible features Bentley Dynamic Ride, an advanced 48-volt roll control system for unrivalled car control. The system controls and adjusts the electronic actuators on the anti-roll bar of each axle and so improves handling and ride comfort, as well as making the car feel lighter and more precise. This system instantly counteracts lateral rolling forces when cornering and ensures maximum tire-to-road contact to deliver class-leading ride comfort and exceptional handling.

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While conventional anti-roll bars present a compromise between body control and ride comfort, Bentley’s active system provides variable torsional resistance, allowing the Continental GT Convertible to be both dynamically capable and comfortable for all occupants at all times. The use of a 48-volt system results in silent, instantaneous responses and sufficient power on hand to deal with all road surfaces.

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Through Bentley’s Drive Dynamics Control different modes can be selected: Comfort mode, Bentley mode or Sport mode; the suspension, engine, gearbox and other chassis systems will modify to match the selected drive mode. Alternatively, the driver can personalise his or her own dynamic settings.

The air suspension on the new Continental GT Convertible uses three-chamber air springs which give the car 60 per cent more air volume in the softest setting than the previous model. This allowed Bentley’s engineers more scope for tuning the suspension to improve the ride comfort and dynamic character of the car. The system offers the scope to vary from sporting spring stiffness to luxury limousine refinement depending upon which mode the driver has selected.

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As a foundation for this impressive handling, the Continental GT Convertible boasts a body-in-white structure that manages to be both stiffer and lighter than its predecessor. This five per cent improvement in torsional rigidity and 20 per cent reduction in structural weight are achievable thanks to the intelligent utilisation of aluminium and high-tensile steel in the platform.

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Electric Power-Assisted Steering (EPAS) is also featured on the Continental GT Convertible. The new system improves feedback to the driver, while providing isolation from unwanted road disturbances. The steering system features a variable rack ratio, allowing increased response with higher steering angles to aid manoeuvrability whilst maintaining excellent stability at high speeds.

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Another key feature is the latest-generation Continuous Damping Control (CDC), which constantly adjusts the damper forces to optimise comfort. The system continually measures the velocity and distance between the wheels and the body at each corner and also adjusts the air volume in the springs if necessary to ensure the optimum balance of comfort and handling. Both front and rear axles are of a lightweight aluminium construction, with multilink design at the front and rear.

The braking system is the most powerful iron system ever fitted to a Bentley, with a total of 28 pistons. Front brake discs measuring 420 mm are a two-piece construction utilising a cast-iron friction ring and aluminium mounting bell. Front calipers feature ten pistons each, while rear calipers contain four pistons each that clamp 380 mm single-piece discs. Brakes of this scale provide the reliable, repeatable stopping performance inherently important to a 200+ mph sporting Grand Tourer.

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Bentley has worked with Pirelli to create bespoke tires for the new Continental GT Convertible from the beginning of the design phase. The car runs exclusively on Pirelli P Zero tires, using a different tire size between front and rear axles for the first time, to enhance dynamic ability. During the development process, Pirelli’s engineers sat alongside their counterparts from Bentley, driving and refining the car-tire package until the perfect balance was reached between performance and comfort. The latest material compounds help the tire respond more directly to driver inputs, ensuring a dynamic experience that is balanced and communicative.

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The Bentley Rotating Display offers the choice between a digital or analogue journey. At first glance there appears to be no screen in the centre of the dashboard. Instead, the veneer flows uninterrupted across the dashboard, while a thin chrome bezel behind the steering wheel surrounds a digital instrument display.

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When the engine start button is pressed, the veneer in the middle of the dashboard glides forward and rotates to reveal Bentley’s largest-ever touchscreen, a 12.3” high-definition-quality digital MMI display, designed by Bentley with a customer-configurable home screen with three windows able to display the driver’s preferred functions, for example, navigation, media and telephone. The user interface is designed to be similar to a modern mobile phone and menus are structured to be instantly intuitive.

The third side on the Bentley Rotating Display reveals three analogue dials displaying outside temperature, a compass and chronometer. Such an innovative use of traditional elements underscores Bentley’s unique commitment to the past and the future, and offers customers the choice of digital or analogue display or clean, calm cabin.

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