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Most powerful Bentley ever uses hybrid-V8

Bentley releases most powerful model ever, with 575kW hybrid-V8 GT Speed on the way

1 Jul 2024

BENTLEY has ditched its iconic W12 engine in favour of a hybrid-V8 setup that offers more power than ever before in the top-spec Continental GT Speed.


The new twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 produces 435kW/800Nm, while an electric motor provides a further 139kW/450Nm, offering a combined output of 575kW/1000Nm – eclipsing even the second-generation Supersports.


Power runs through an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission and onto all four wheels, with the 25.9kWh battery mounted behind the rear axle to achieve what Bentley says is a “perfect weight distribution”. However, the “perfect” weight distribution is actually a rear-biased 49:51 split.


Torque is up 11 per cent compared to the outgoing W12-powered GT Speed, and power is up 19 per cent, which makes the new model the most powerful, and fastest, Continental ever. It’ll get to 100km/h in 3.2 seconds and has a top speed of 335km/h.


In showing off its stop-speed potential, the new GT Speed even set an unofficial ‘underwater speed record’, clocking 335km/h through the Ryfylke Tunnel in Norway. The 14.4km-long tunnel is 292 metres below sea level, hence the ‘underwater’ reference.


The new 400-volt architecture allows electric-only range of 81km, but the electric motor is used to fill the torque gap at low RPM in other driving modes. Bentley was able to move to twin single-scroll turbochargers for this reason, due to the reduced lag, keeping the system simple and doing away with cylinder deactivation hardware.


But it isn’t just the powertrain that’s been updated, because Bentley claims 68 per cent of the components on the fourth-generation GT Speed are new, despite visuals that look fairly similar to the third-generation model.


A new chassis system uses two-chamber air springs and dual-valve dampers, along with Bentley’s 48V anti-roll control system, to balance body roll and comfort in the hybrid model.While vehicle weight has not yet been disclosed, we suspect it will be heavier than the third-generation GT Speed.


Brakes are, unsurprisingly, massive. The GT Speed scores 10-piston front and four-piston rear calipers, with massive 420mm front and 380mm rear discs. There is also a carbon-silicon-carbide option, with 440mm front and 410mm rear rotors.


Visual changes, as mentioned, are not as significant as the shift to hybrid power, but the facelifted design has been modernised and is more muscular from all angles. In fact, Bentley says the revised front-end is inspired by the “upright elegance of a thoroughbred horse”, which check out.


The headlights are now a streamlined single lamp design, with a new horizontal ‘eyebrow’ above the matrix LEDs. The rears have also been redesigned, protruding further and featuring a three-dimensional pattern within.


A precision quilt pattern is used throughout the interior, featuring across the seats and doors, which Bentley says offers a “cocooning environment”. Dark chrome features have also been used throughout, for things like door handles, switches and grilles.


Bentley’s signature rotating display remains, housing three options that can be changed by pressing a button, giving owners a choice of a 12.3-inch display, three analogue dials, or a hardcrafter veneer.


The drop-top GTC Speed will also launch alongside its coupe sibling, featuring the same powertrain but a slightly slower 0-100km/h sprint time of 3.4 seconds and a reduced 285km/h top speed.


Both models will be hand-built at Bentley's Dream Factory in Crewe, England, and the firm says deliveries will commence from Q3 this year.


Australian arrival timing and pricing is yet to be confirmed.

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