We were thrilled when Bentley introduced the Continental GT V8 S as a more muscled variant of its luxurious GT, but the new two-seat, limited-run Bentley Continental GT3-R looks to take things to a whole new level. Boasting a race-tuned engine with more power, reduced weight, and improved handling, who says you can’t have your cake and eat it, too?
It’s no simple task to turn a high-output GT car into a track-capable performance car, but Bentley Motorsport is up to the task, planning to finish the GT3-R after it is hand-built in the company’s historic Crewe factory. Bentley will bestow its latest creation with a retuned, higher-output version of the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 used in the Continental GT V8 S.
Thanks to upgraded turbochargers as well as recalibrated engine software, the new engine bumps power from 521 hp up to an eyebrow-raising 572 hp. Torque surges to 516 lb-ft of torque, up from 502 lb-ft in the V8 S. Shorter gearing for the ZF eight-speed automatic also improves acceleration, while a new torque vectoring capability for the all-wheel-drive system enhances handling.
Although the Continental GT is not typically known as a lightweight, Bentley also manages to shed 221 pounds off of the GT V8 S, bringing weight down to 4839 pounds for the GT3-R. Extensive use of carbon fiber on the interior, plus the removal of the rear seats, and the addition of a lighter titanium exhaust, help trim the fat.
At first glance, it’s clear the Bentley Continental GT3-R is meant to look like a road-going relative of the Continental GT3 race car. Visual cues such as the more aggressive carbon fiber front splitter, twin hood vents, fixed carbon fiber rear spoiler, and Glacier White paint with two-tone green racing stripes all speak to the GT3-R’s racing pedigree. Gloss black headlamp bezels, grille, window surrounds, and bumper strips complete the striking effect alongside black 21-inch wheels with sticky Pirelli tires.
Those lucky enough to park themselves inside one of the 300 Bentley Continental GT3-R models being built will enjoy the bespoke sport seats clad in Alcantara and Beluga black leather, foam bolstering, and hand-trimmed Alcantara steering wheel and gear shifter. GT3-R badging throughout the cabin finishes the interior with a distinctive flair.
Sprinting from 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds on its way to a 170-mph top speed, the Continental GT3-R is the fastest accelerating Bentley ever built. (The GT V8 S coupe takes 4.3 seconds to reach the benchmark.) When you need to return to Earth and pull your heart back into your chest, stomp on the brake pedal for the fade-free stopping power of Bentley’s carbon silicon carbide braking system, with its flashy green-painted 8-piston calipers.
We walked away from the Continental GT V8 S with, “a rekindled appreciation not only for the sensory feast that [it] provides, but also with the realization that the V8 S is the best-driving Continental yet.” If Bentley has managed to outdo itself already, we’re aching for a chance to experience this higher-performance Continental GT variant.
Orders are already being accepted for the Bentley Continental GT3-R, and deliveries of the 300-vehicle run will begin in late 2014. Pricing has not been announced, but it will definitely come in north of the $199,225 starting price for the 2014 Bentley Continental GT V8 S.