The New Bentley Continental GTC - New Rear Suspension | Part Five

Bentley COntinental GTC

Bentley Continental

New rear suspension

To cater for the Continental GTC’s sleek design and packaging requirements, a new rear suspension has been created. The convertible shares the same suspension system as its coupé equivalent - a four-link arrangement at the front and a trapezoidal multi-link rear axle with computer-controlled air springs and fully variable, electronically controlled shock absorbers in place of conventional coils.

On previous Continental models, however, the air damper unit was mounted to the upper lever of the rear suspension. On the convertible, the entire damper has been lowered by 210mm and is now mounted to a brand new lower trapezoidal link with an advanced aluminium-cast mounting point that provides the strength and stiffness to hold the damper in place.

With a slightly altered weight distribution and a need to ensure the convertible is as luxurious and comfortable as it is sporting and dynamic, the Continental GTC has revised air spring pistons and damper hydraulics at the front and rear.

As with the other Continentals in the range, the Continental GTC will allow the driver to select from four pre-programmed suspension settings ranging from Comfort through to Sport. These settings automatically adjust the computer-controlled shock absorbers to ensure that the car reacts in the right way to your driving style. At speeds above 152mph (245km/h), the suspension automatically lowers the car to ensure that aerodynamic lift is kept to a minimum, benefitting high-speed stability.

The advanced continuous all-wheel drive system endows the Continental GTC with astonishing traction and poise whatever the weather. In standard conditions the drive is transferred equally between the front and rear axles via a highly sensitive centre Torsen differential. If, however, the differential detects a deviation in torque demand between the two axles it automatically sends more power to the wheels indicating greater grip.

The Continental GTC also incorporates traction control and an Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), both of which can be disabled at the discretion of the driver. Operating discreetly, these driver aids offer additional security and governance over the car’s dynamic potential without being intrusive, thereby ensuring the unique Bentley driving experience remains undisturbed.

The Continental GTC shares the revised steering system that was introduced with the four-door Continental Flying Spur. To improve driver feel, friction was reduced in the steering column, rack and suspension ball joints and its responsiveness was also enhanced, with a slightly lighter weighting for more relaxed driving at high speeds while providing a more linear increase in loading as it begins to corner.

In common with its Continental stablemates, the GTC has the largest diameter disc brakes of any series production passenger car on sale today. The front discs are 405mm in diameter and 36mm wide, and the rear discs 335mm in diameter and 22mm wide. The aluminium callipers are branded with cast aluminium ‘Bentley’ logos at the front.

The braking system features a Bosch anti-lock system with Brake Assist and electronic pressure distribution. The Continental GTC also has an ‘intelligent’ electronic parking brake with move-off assist (except USA). The parking brake system can also be operated as an emergency brake. In this instance braking is applied to all four wheels and the car’s electronic safety systems remain fully operational allowing the driver to steer as normal.

A tyre-pressure monitoring system is standard equipment, and constantly measures the tyre pressures in all four wheels, instantly warning the driver should a significant reduction occur.

“The refinement and dynamics that we have succeeded in engineering into a large convertible are amazing,” says Dr Ulrich Eichhorn, Member of the Board, Engineering. “It has the dual character that every Bentley possesses. You can drive along in something that is better appointed than your drawing room and then you can give a supercar a run for its money whenever you want. And when the roads are bumpy and wet who could challenge you with four-wheel drive and incredible grip?”

continues... | Part Six
Published 16 April 2006 Melanie Carter

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