Cruise missile: 333km/h Bentley Continental GT Convertible revealed
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Bentley is accelerating towards its looming centenary celebrations by unleashing a scintillating new 207mph British-built convertible.
Ahead of marking its 100 years of automotive excellence in the New Year, Bentley has taken the top off its third generation Continental Grand Tourer to produce a powerful new wind-in the hair cabriolet version that roars from rest to 100km/h in 3.8 seconds.
And, for the first time, customers can even specify a soft-top roof in traditional British Tweed - one of seven exterior fabric options. Bentley hailed the new car as 'high value British engineering at its best.'
The clever 'Z-fold' fabric roof opens or retracts in 19 seconds at speeds of up to 50km/h, allowing drivers to get under cover without stopping if there's a sudden shower, or drop the top while still on the move when the sun starts to shine.
So good is the sound-proofing from the roof of the third generation convertible, mechanicals and noise-reducing tyres that the convertible is quieter than the previous hard-top coupe version of the Continental GT. There are also 8 interior hood linings including red, blue and magnolia.
It is built at Bentley's factory in Crew which employs 4,000 people and also builds the Flying Spur and Mulsanne limousine models as well as the 4X4 Bentayga.
Bentley, part of the giant Volkswagen group, said it was proud that the new cabriolet and its engine had been 'designed, engineered and handcrafted in Britain'.
The open-topped Bentley is powered by the same 635 horse-power (PS) 6.0 litre W12 12-cylinder petrol linked to an 8-speed dual clutch automatic transmission as drives the coupe. This allows the new cabriolet to accelerate from rest to 100km/h 3.8 seconds, up to a top speed of 333km/h — where permitted, of course.
The sophisticated engine management system makes 300million software calculations per second.
To help save some fuel and needless emissions, half the engine can shut down to run on six-cylinders, rather than 12, to save fuel. Stop-start and 'coasting' technology allows engine to 'rest' when the vehicle is stationary and at 'near-stop' speeds'
The convertible has a longer bonnet, lower 'nose' and more streamlined profile than its predecessor thanks to a longer wheelbase and front-wheels positioned 135mm further forward than its predecessor, though the muscular haunches over the rear wheels continue to dominate. The way ahead is lit at night by LED Matrix lighting with headlamps inspired by the finest cut-crystal glass designed to catch the light 'like a diamond.'
It runs on 21-inch Pirelli P Zero tyres as standard, with 22 inch versions as option.
There are 17 exterior colours as standard, including Beluga, Onyx and Portofino, with up to 70 in the extended range, plus countless 'bespoke' options.
Inside driver and passengers are cossetted in a luxury handcrafted cabin featuring 10sq metres of veneer wood that takes 9 hours to create and fit, eight handcrafted standard veneers plus four 'dual' veneers, 15 choices of interior trim hide, and 15 luxury carpet options, and 20-way adjustable seats with cooling, heating and massage functions.
The convertible also carries over from the coupe the world's first three-way rotating dashboard that takes its inspiration from James Bond's famous revolving number plate. A clever triangular 'Toblerone-style' device revolves to show one of three different dashboard 'faces' – a plan veneer, a hi-tech 12.3-inch touch screen for sat-nav or media, or three analogue circular dials displaying outside temperature, a compass and a chronometer.
It is inspired by the rotating number-plate gadget used in the James Bond movie 'Goldfinger' on 007's gadget-laden Aston Martin DB5 – using three-sided faces, like on the distinctive triangular packaging of the Toblerone bar of chocolate.
There is also diamond-style pattern on knobs and trim inspired by luxury Swiss watch-makers, called 'Cotes de Geneve – which is machined onto 0.6mm aluminium to create a three-dimensional 'technical' finish.
To help ensure that the convertible remains 'a Bentley for all seasons', a special 'neckwarmer' integrated into the heated comfort seats blows warm air around the electrically adjustable headrests.
This combines with a heated steering wheel, seat heaters and new heated armrests, to keep driver and passengers snug even with the top down in the freshest of weather.
Bentley say the new Continental is the 'most technologically advanced' range they have ever produced – with 2,300 circuit boards, five miles of wiring (8km), 92 electronic control units, and 100million lines of computer code , some 15 times the amount on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, to make it all work.
There are three drive modes: Comfort, 'Bentley' or normal, and 'Sport, plus the option for drivers to personalise their own settings. An enhanced air suspension system promises improved ride comfort. And a special 'roll-control' system boosts handling, especially on corners.
Super-rich customers can commission their own tailor made bespoke specification with Bentley's Mulliner division.
The new cabriolet joins the existing third generation of the Bentley Continental GT grand tourer hard-top coupe which was unveiled in August 2017 ahead of its debut at the Frankfurt motor Show that September, with first deliveries in Spring this year. Pricing for the New Zealand market has yet to be confirmed.
Bentley Motors chairman and chief executive Adrian Hallmark said: '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.'
He added: 'The extraordinary breath of capabilities offered by the new Continental GT Convertible is unique and can only be offered by our noble British brand: elegant understatement that forces you to look and engineering excellence you'll take for granted.'
Bentley are also developing and road-testing more frugal plug-in hybrid versions of the Continental range, some disguised versions of which have also been spotted on testing. It already has a plug-in hybrid Bentayga 4X4, matching a 3.0 litre petrol V6 engine to an electric motor.
New chief executive Hallmark has set out the firm's path towards 'full electrification' of the Bentley range as the firm seeks to shed its 'gas-guzzler' reputation. Hallmark's stated aim is to have 100 per cent hybrid or electric power available on all models across the Bentley range by 2025. The new luxury hybrid sets Bentley 'on the path towards a sustainable electrified future,' he said.
- Daily Mail