First Look: 2011 Bentley Continental GT

The Continental's all-wheel-drive system moves to a rear-biased (40:60) torque split. The all-aluminum suspension has new uprights, the track is wider, and the steering has been recalibrated. The car is 143 pounds lighter overall, and Bentley predicts a minor increase in fuel economy, from 10/17 mpg to 12/19 mpg (preliminary estimate). As to the new car's driving character, project leader Paul Jones promises, "the agility of the Continental GT Speed with a better ride than the standard car".

A second engine option
A bigger change, however, is coming. Late next year, the Continental GT will add a second engine choice: an all-new 4.0-liter V-8. Although the V-8 is being developed with Audi, it, like the W-12, will be built at Crewe. Bentley isn't ready to talk about output (expect to hear more at this spring's Geneva auto show), but the company promises a 40 percent reduction in emissions. Bentley bosses insist that the 4.0-liter won't be an entry-level model, and that the V-8 and the W-12 will be positioned side-by-side.

A cohesive showroom
Also side-by-side, at least in the showroom, will be the new coupe and the current GTC convertible and Flying Spur sedan, which aren't due for their redesign quite yet. Perhaps that's another reason for the evolutionary styling.

"We felt we had to be very cautious," says van Braekel. Indeed, a new coupe that looked dramatically different would make its sedan and convertible siblings look old. Instead, the new Continental GT advanced the family look, but does it carefully.

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