Bentley Continental - Handling Enhancements

Bentley Continental

Bentley Continental GT Speed

Chassis, suspension and steering modifications for both the Continental GT and GT Speed models ensure they have the handling to match their formidable powertrains. Both are suspended on double wishbones at the front and a trapezoidal multi-link system at the rear. Much of the suspension is made from lightweight aluminium. The GT Speed model also benefits from a solid-mounted front subframe, while high-stiffness aluminium front uprights are common to both models. Together with stiffer rear suspension bushes these deliver even sharper handling characteristics. The GT Speed also features modified front and rear anti-roll bars to minimise understeer and optimise handling balance.

Self-levelling air suspension that constantly monitors and adjusts the ride height and damping according to road conditions is common to both models, although the GT Speed is engineered to sit 10mm lower at the front and 15mm lower at the rear to improve handling dynamics. Uprated springs and dampers, together with revised software control, further improve the agility and body control of the GT Speed.

All-new 9.5Jx20-inch alloy wheels with bespoke Pirelli P-Zero tyres have a major effect on the GT Speed’s steering and grip levels. The wider wheel and reduced tyre wall profile improve the tyre’s lateral stiffness giving noticeably sharper steering response and feel. The new Pirelli performance tyres are developed specifically for the GT Speed and benefit from a unique construction and rubber compound for enhanced levels of grip.

Both the Continental GT and GT Speed benefit from changes to the rack and pinion steering. Revisions to the system’s hydraulics reduce friction and improve steering feel, while a new version of the speed-sensitive Servotronic system also increases levels of feedback to the driver.

Secondary ride levels – the response of the car to poor road surfaces, pot holes or cats’ eyes, for example – have been improved on the 552bhp Continental GT model with the addition of low friction dampers. And even though the new GT Speed has stiffer, lowered suspension its ride quality is on a par with the 2007 Continental GT.

The Continental GT and GT Speed are both equipped with the largest brakes of any production passenger car on sale today. The ventilated front discs have a 405mm diameter and are 36mm thick. Ventilated discs are also used at the back, with a diameter of 335mm and a thickness of 22mm.

For both models, the performance boundaries are further extended by Bentley’s optional carbon/silicon carbide brake system. Boasting 420 x 40mm carbon-silicon carbide, cross-drilled front discs and 356 x 28mm rears, with eight-piston callipers, the new brakes are even larger than the standard system. The system provides a 20kg reduction in rotating and unsprung mass, benefiting steering response and handling.

The lightweight, fade-resistant braking system minimises disc distortion under high thermal conditions. Under normal driving conditions the brake discs will last the lifetime of the car. Furthermore, brake pad life is doubled compared with the standard braking system.

Complementing the braking systems of both Continental GT models are sophisticated safety systems, including Hydraulic Braking Assistance (HBA), anti-lock braking (ABS), drag torque control (MSR) and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD). The latter monitors the level of grip available to each tyre and apportions braking force accordingly. This not only helps reduce stopping distances but also greatly enhances the control enjoyed by the driver under heavy braking.

Published 1 August 2007 Melanie Carter

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