Motorsports involves a contest of speed where manufacturers do battle to take the checked flag, they also race to sell cars. In the case of the Bentley Motorsport division, their efforts on the Continental GT3 racecar have not gone unnoticed. In order to pay homage to their victory in the Continental GT3 at Silverstone circuit, the team put together a super limited edition vehicle named the Continental GT3-R, which Bentley buyers will be able to drive daily around town. The Continental GT3-R promises to integrate the level of luxury Bentley owners are accustomed to but offer the greatest driving dynamics ever offered in a Bentley.
Limited to only 300 units, the Bentley Continental GT3-R promises to sell out in short order. In fact, one of the AutoNation dealers, Bentley Newport Beach in California expects up to 10-percent of that total order for the rare GT3-R. However, this GT3-R is much more than an appearance package and a handful of underpinnings to create driver excitement but rather a racing-derived soul that will leave an impression.
Under the vast hood of the Continental is a retuned version of the 4.0-litre, twin-turbo V8. Bentley engineers were able to extract 51 more horsepower and 14 lb-ft of torque from the already quick GT V8 S. The net result is a 572 hp grand tourer with 516 lb-ft of torque pulsing through an AWD drivetrain with instantaneous response. Despite an all titanium exhaust, carbon brakes and no rear seats equaling a 220-pound weight reduction, the hefty GT3-R still weighs in at 4,839-pounds but looking at the performance data would be hard to guess. From a standstill, the GT3-R will rocket to 60 mph in only 3.6-seconds while tapping out due only to the limiter at 170 mph.
One of the critical systems needed to enable such a large vehicle to achieve these speeds was the drivetrain and gearing. With power flowing through the paddle-shifting 8-speed transmission, the close ratio gears and lower final drive allow the GT3-R to blast off the line and burst out of corners with immense exit speeds by harnessing the torque down low at 1,700 rpm. The Bentley all-wheel drive system has been redesigned to included torque vectoring to optimize power delivery to all four wheels.
Beyond the mechanics of the drivetrain, the electronics and suspension have been redeveloped on the GT3-R for superior handling as well. The Electronic Stability Control has been remapped for increased turn-in and improved handling around corners. Engineers retuned the air suspension on board for stiffer dampening, faster rebound and minimal roll while cornering. The critical connection with the ground are Bentley gloss black 21-inch wheels wrapped in Pirelli high-performance tires.
Inside Bentley excels at blurring the lines between luxury GT and race-ready functionality. The elegant sports seats are finished in black Beluga leather with black diamond patterned Alcantara inserts, green piping and GT3-R embroidered on the head rest. The standard door panels are swapped for carbon fiber and the rear seats have been deleted for weight savings making way for extra cargo if you choose to place any on delicate carbon fiber surfaces. There is an 8-inch touch-screen infotainment system onboard complete with 30GB harddrive and 440W 8-speaker system but should weight-conscious buyers choose to opt out of tech items, the rearview camera and 6-disc changer are optional.
Completing the appearance of the limited car is an exterior graphics package that speaks to the racing heritage of the car and most certainly will not blend in with the crowd. The GT3-R graphics are complimented by a carbon fiber front splitter and a carbon fiber fixed rear wing. Extra hood vents, 21-inch wheels and exterior items are finished in a gloss black contrasting the Glacier White paint. The final touches are dark tinted bi-xenon headlights, optional two-tone racing stripes and GT3-R door sills which bear the ‘One of 300’ message.
‘Going fast with class’ is certainly the mantra here. The limited Bentley offers all of the luxuries and daily drivability of the standard Continental GT V8 S but with the dual personality of a GT3 race car. While the straight-line brute of this GT3-R is nothing short of frightening, we’re eager to see how the most exciting driving dynamics ever offered in a Bentley translates onto the track.