By: IOL Motoring Staff
Crewe, Derbyshire - Bentley calls it 'performance-focused luxury'; the literary-minded will no doubt reference iron fists and velvet gloves but the bottom line is simply that you are looking at the hardest-hitting street-legal Bentley yet.
Inspired by the new Continental GT3 race car that stormed to victory at the second round of the Blancpain Endurance Series at Silverstone - the first time a works Bentley had raced in England for 84 years - the Continental GT3-R is all about the numbers: just one colour, two seats, 426 kilowatts, 700 Newton-metres, 100 kilograms less than the 'standard' Continental GT and production limited to 300 examples - each of which will be will be hand-built in Crewe and finished in Bentley's Motorsport division.
The race-proven four-litre biturbo V8 gets precision-honed high-boost turbos and new engine control software to liberate 426kW at 6000 revs and 700Nm from 1700rpm.
The eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox has shorter output gearing for harder acceleration (0-100kmh in 3.8 seconds and on to 273km/h - in a car that weighs 2195kg ready to go!) and, for the first time, an all-wheel drive system with torque vectoring on the rear wheels to neutralise understeer.
Recalibrated control software means that Drive and Sport modes are further apart, with completely recalibrated paddle shifting, while a new titanium exhaust system not only provides a 7kg weight saving but also gives the GT3-R a unique baritone rumble.
The GT3-R's air springs and dampers use a development of the sports-tuned setup and electronic stability control program from the Continental V8 S, with lightweight 21" forged-alloy rims shod with Pirelli sports tyres
Braking is by 420mm front and 356mm rear carbon silicon discs, the fronts gripped by eight-piston callipers finished in eye-catching green.
THE VELVET GLOVE
The Continental GT3-R has a unique two-seat cabin handcrafted from carbon fibre, alcantara synthetic suede and the finest leather, built around a pair of bespoke sports seats with additional side support through deeper bolsters, including newly designed foam layers for comfort, and finished in black leather with diamond-quilted alcantara panels.
There's more alcantara on the steering wheel and gear shifter, while the centre console and fascia panels are handcrafted in carbon fibre, as are the door liners, with diamond-quilted alcantara inner panels.
And in place of the rear seats there's a specially trimmed parcel shelf in leather and alcantara with a carbon-fibre surround, each material in its own distinctive shade of black, highlighted by bright green accents on the seats, instrument panel and door panels, and by contrast stitching throughout the seats and diamond-quilted areas - as well as the GT3-R badges on the head restraints, passenger-side dash panel and sill tread-plates.
A new carbon-fibre front splitter is balanced by a fixed rear wing (also made of thec light stuff) on the boot lid, and two bonnet vents, invoking the GT3 race car, improve engine-compartment cooling.
All 300 cars will be finished in a special ice-white paint with two-tone green side graphics and gloss black wheels, headlight bezels, grille, window surrounds and bumper strips.
The order book for the Bentley Continental GT3-R is open now, with deliveries to start late in 2014. Nothing so crass as price is mentioned, of course, on the unspoken premise that if you need to ask, you can't afford it.