Paris Show 2010 Highlights: 2011 Bentley Continental GT

Bentley has made a splash at the Paris show with its all-new Continental GT. The super-coupe made a dramatic entrance at the VW Group's pre-show party when hi-tech water jets spelt out the newcomer's name.

The Crewe firm has also now confirmed that the luxury coupe will cost from £135,760 when its reaches dealerships in the first quarter of 2011. The price includes the new 20 per cent VAT rate that comes into force in January and adds up to an increase of almost £10,000 on the current car's £126,500 price.

To get the full story on the new Continental GT, Auto Express was granted exclusive access to the car ahead of the show with Bentley’s head of exterior design, Raul Pires.

“We had three key goals for this car - to improve the proportions, to make the signature lines more contemporary and to give the car a more bespoke, handmade feel,” Pires explained. Get up close, and the Continental’s sharp new look is immediately noticeable - every panel is new except the wing mirrors, which are borrowed from the Mulsanne.

Thanks to a new cutting-edge process known as aluminium super forming, the muscular bodywork has been given a sharper edge. All the major feature lines, especially the trademark rear wheel arches are crisper and more defined, smartening up the coupe’s appearance. Whereas before the GT featured a steel bonnet and plastic bumper arrangement, now the entire front wing is made from one single sheet of metal.

“This proces is more expensive and more time consuming, but with a low-volume car like this it’s possible to try new things.” said Pires.

The imposing front grille now sits more upright and 40mm lower, allowing the sculpted bonnet to fit snugly between the bulging front wheel arches. The four headlight layout is familiar, but now each of the lamps features jewel-like LEDs surrounding the main bulb. A wider track, front and rear, as well as the double-elipse LED taillights that wrap around the corners of car add to the GT’s already impressive width, while the height and length remain roughly the same. And for the first time 21-inch wheels are offered as an option, in either ‘Elegant’ or split-rim ‘Sports’ design.

As with all Bentleys the devil is in the detail, and Pires was keen to point out some of the car’s finer points: “This car has the least amount of chrome detailing of any model in the range, but it all has a function. The rubbing strips on the side of the car are now protruding, to help prevent stone chips on the rear wheel arch.” Other clever touches include headlight washers incorporated into the light assembly and no shut lines running through the rear lights - both to create a less-cluttered surface. For more details click here.

Thanks to: Auto Express

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