Bentley Continental GT | Part Seven

Bentley Continental GT

Bentley Continental

The basis of the Continental GT’s chassis strategy is an extremely stiff body, without which, even the most sophisticated of suspension systems can be undermined. To this was applied the latest in suspension technology featuring an innovative double wishbone arrangement at the front – designed to minimise torque reactions through the steered wheels - and a multi-link rear axle behind. Extensive use of aluminium has been made to lower unsprung mass while the entire front subframe of the car is fashioned from stainless steel. Air springs are used at each corner, each one containing its own infinitely adjustable electronic damper.

These electronic dampers do more than offer a few different settings for the driver to play with. Within their set parameters they are capable of adjusting themselves continuously without the driver ever being aware of it.

Electronic stability systems: Unintrusive and at the discretion of the driver

Naturally both traction control and the latest Bosch Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) are fitted, though they can be disabled at the discretion of the driver – Bentley has no desire to dictate how the Continental GT is driven. The secret to understanding their function is to see them as additional to the Continental GT’s dynamic behaviour, rather than as an essential ingredient in keeping a car of these capabilities safe.

The Continental GT is capable of monitoring a whole range of dynamic attitudes such as lateral acceleration, individual wheel speeds, throttle position and brake pressure. No car can defy the laws of physics and there are certain extreme conditions that even ESP will be unable to guard against, but as an extra line of defence for the unfortunate driver caught out by unexpected circumstances, its safety value is real and evident.

That said, as the most sporting road-going Bentley since the R-Type Continental, the Continental GT is a driver’s car through and through and Bentley’s chassis engineers – enthusiasts all – have been acutely aware that not only must the chassis have the raw ability to match perfectly the engine’s phenomenal output, it must provide it in a way that indulges and engrosses its driver.

To this end, a huge amount of work has been done analysing spring, damper and anti-roll bar rates to ensure the car has the right sporting stance on the road. Exhaustive testing of steering geometries has been undertaken to eliminate unwanted torque reactions, and also to provide the appropriate amount of ‘feel’ in the chassis. In particular, the Servotronic rack and pinion steering has been evaluated to ensure it delivers the right response in terms of steering, but also feedback to the driver.

Brakes: ensuring the Continental GT stops as well as it goes

Braking will be provided by all new, ventilated and grooved disc brakes at each corner featuring the latest Bosch anti-lock system with Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Force Distribution.

Once all the specification of the chassis had been determined, the Continental GT was put through the most rigorous real world evaluation programme of any Bentley in history, a process that continues to this day. From race tracks such as the famed original Nurburgring to mountain passes and sinuous switchbacks all over the world, the Continental GT is being tested and re-tested to fine tune its exceptionally promising chassis specification to provide ride and handling standards that don’t merely rise above the class standard but define it.

continues... | Part Eight
Published 20 July 2003 Melanie Carter

The information contained this Bentley Continental news article may have changed since publication on the 20 July 2003. Our car specifications, reviews, and prices may only apply to the UK market. You may wish to check with the manufacturer or your local Bentley dealer, before making a purchasing decision. E.&.O.E. You may NOT reproduce our car news in full or part, in any format without our written permission. carpages.co.uk © 2017