The big news with Bentley's redesigned 2011 Continental GT was that the company will offer a 4.0-liter V-8 engine option sometime after the car launches. Reports indicate that the engine may also be coupled to a new transmission as well, Audi's S-tronic seven-speed dual-clutch unit.
The reason for the transmission switch has to do with the potential Continental GT V-8 buyer. Bentley believes that the V-8 car will appeal to an entirely different set of clientele, albeit similarly wealthy, than the 12-cylinder car does.
"There are sports car enthusiasts out there, particularly in the U.S., who won't buy a sports car unless it's powered by a V-8," Alasdair Stewart, head of Bentley's sales and marketing, told Autocar.
Bentley believes the V-8 exclusive sports car buyers will want a sportier driving experience than the twelve-cylinder car buyers and plans to offer one. The British marquee feels that a dual-clutch transmission, with its ability to bang off crisp, almost instantaneous shifts, could aid the sporty driving experience.
Luckily for Bentley, it needs only to look as far as Volkswagen-owned Audi to find such a transmission. The engine under consideration for the new V-8 is Audi's S-tronic seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission. Currently, Bentley engineers are conducting a feasibility study to determine if the transmission will fit in the Continental's transmission tunnel as it's a different shape than the ZF automatic currently used.
Although the transmission is still in limbo, we will see a V-8 powered Continental, likely to make its first appearance at the Geneva Motor Show in March next year. We'll likely learn which transmission will be attached to the engine at that point as well. Sales of the V-8 model are expected to start in early 2012.