Bentley’s Belting Brawler

BY Burnpavement

Previously taken up only by Porsche, the GT3 moniker now gets applied to Crewe’s most hardcore model ever.

Yes, any petrolhead worth his salt has heard of the Porsche 911 GT3, that hallowed purveyor of the divine and holy black art known as ‘driving dynamics’. But what not every enthusiast might know is that ‘GT3’ is also a class of production-based sports car racing under the FIA, of which Bentley became a part this year with its Continental GT3 racecar.

Despite still being in just its debut year, the Conti GT3 has already proven to be a race winner (on home turf no less) at the Silverstone round of the Blancpain Endurance Series — the brand’s first UK race in 84 years. To celebrate, Bentley has announced a sharper, gruntier model, “inspired” by the racer — the GT3-R. Only 300 will be produced, hand-built and then finished by the boys at Bentley’s Motorsport division.

With all things being relative though, the GT3-R won’t be a stripped down, hardcore, bare-knuckle track weapon like its distant cousin from Stuttgart; it’s still a big Grand Tourer after all… So, the much-vaunted ZF 8-speed auto gearbox and four-wheel drive system remain, and the interior remains as luxuriously appointed as ever. Still, the car has gone on a crash diet, losing 100kg in weight compared to the GT V8 S on which it’s based, thanks in part to the removal of the rear seats, and the installation of a pair of bespoke carbonfibre seats trimmed in contrasting black and green leather and Alcantara up front.

Power from the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 is bumped up by 51 bhp and 20 Nm, for maximum outputs of 572 bhp and 700 Nm of torque. This was achieved with a new engine mapping and increasing of the turbos’ boost, as well as an all-new titanium exhaust that saves 7kg in the process. In addition to the engine’s tweaks, the gear ratios have been shortened as well, so although top speed drops to 272 km/h from the GT V8 S’ 309 km/h, the century sprint is dispatched 0.7 seconds sooner at 3.6 seconds, making the GT3-R the fastest-accelerating Bentley ever.

Like the powertrain, the chassis has been sharpened up to match too. For the first time in a Bentley, the all-wheel drive system features Torque Vectoring across the rear axle for more precise power delivery, while a re-calibration of the air springs and dampers and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) programme give the GT3-R a more focused bent. Braking is handled by Bentley’s Carbon Silicon Carbide discs, monster 420 mm and 356 mm items grabbed by 8-piston calipers, which Bentley claim can absorb enough energy to power a family home for six hours...

Differentiating a GT3-R from regular Continentals shouldn’t be a difficult task. All 300 cars will be produced in Glacier White, with green striping highlighting the car’s haunches. There’s also a new front splitter, rear wing and bonnet vents all finished in carbonfibre, to further tie the GT3-R’s styling to that of the racecar.

Order books are now open and deliveries due to begin by the end of the year. Expect to see the GT3-R make its public debut at Goodwood Festival of Speed. A charge up the famous hillclimb course would certainly be an apt baptism for this beastie…