Bentley Continental GT3-R: The gentleman's racer
Bentley has released a driver-focused version of its Continental GT in the form of the new limited edition GT3-R. With a 100 kg (220 lb) weight saving over the standard car GT V8, the GT3-R is Bentley's take on what a road-going Gentleman's Racer should be.
No Bentley is slow. The standard Continental GT V8 S Coupe dispatches the sprint to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.5 seconds, and will push on to a top speed of 308 km/h (191 mph). But in the transition to GT3-R, the Continental has gained 87 kilowatts (117b hp) and 20 Nm to cut the 0-100 time to just 3.8 seconds. On top of the 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8's extra power, Bentley has cut 100 kg from the kerb weight of the standard V8 S.
The ZF 8-speed automatic gearbox has been geared shorter than for the standard car to deliver quicker acceleration, and the calibration of sport mode has been made more aggressive to encourage "spirited" drivers.
The R features a titanium exhaust system, which saves 7 kg (15 lb) and helps bump up the power output. Carbon Silicon Carbide brakes help with the weight loss, and with 420 mm front discs and 8 piston calipers, should provide plenty of bite if you're pushing the car's limits.
Uprated brakes are not the only change Bentley has made in its attempt to attract serious drivers instead of chauffeurs. The standard Continental's ESC tune has been recalibrated to allow more leeway for enthusiastic driving, and its now coupled with rear-wheel torque vectoring, which can independently vary the torque being provided to each rear wheel to help put all that power down in the corners. All GT3-R's are all-wheel drive, with a 60:40 rear bias.
Being a Bentley, you would expect subtlety and elegance to feature highly on the designers' list of priorities, but the GT3-R features elements that lean towards boy-racer territory. The Continental's exterior gains green stripes to highlight the car's creases, and features a new rear wing and front splitter finished in glossy carbon fiber. To keep the engine cool, the GT3-R also has gloss-black cooling vents in the bonnet.
The whole package sits on 21 inch lightweight alloy wheels, shod in sticky Pirelli tyres.
Inside, the rear seats have been deleted to save weight, and the rest of the interior is finished in a combination of Beluga Leather, carbon fiber and diamond quilted Alcantara. In case the green interior highlights don't give the fact away, there is GT3-R badging scattered around the cabin to remind you what you're driving.
Only 300 examples will be made, all finished in the white and green combination shown in the gallery, with deliveries to begin in late 2014.
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Anyway, sweet ride... If you're filthy rich. I'll probably never even be lucky enough to see one, much less ride in one or (shudder) actually own one. One can dream though.
"Gentleman's racer" makes about as much sense as "Gentleman's rocking-horse"