This year, Bentley Motors celebrates 60 years of hand-assembled car production at its historic factory in Crewe. To commemorate Crewe’s Diamond Jubilee, Bentley is announcing a limited series of the Continental GT coupe, the most successful car in the company’s illustrious history.
"Bentleys have been renowned for their sporting performance and craftsmanship since the very start of the company, way back in 1919," says Bentley Chairman and Chief Executive, Dr Franz Josef Paefgen. "Since the move to Crewe in 1946, Bentley has created a long line of sporting models with an unrivalled standard of craftsmanship that reflects the unique skills of the Bentley workforce."
The Continental GT Diamond Series, based on the 2007 model year Mulliner Driving Specification, features an exclusive package of enhancements that, in keeping with the Bentley tradition, combines sporting performance with cosseting luxury. Many of these features are unique to this very special model including carbon ceramic brakes, a production-first for Bentley, and new 20-inch, 14-spoke alloy wheels.
"The Continental GT coupe remains true to the Bentley traditions of performance, luxury and craftsmanship while showcasing the modernity of today’s Bentley model range. It has been a magnificent success since its launch in 2003," says Dr Paefgen. "The GT Diamond Series is a fitting tribute to the skills of the Bentley workforce and reinforces Bentley’s growing reputation for advanced technology."
Production of the Continental GT Diamond Series is restricted to 400 cars for worldwide distribution and shares the limelight with the Arnage Diamond Series to form a double celebration of the 60th anniversary of Bentley production at Crewe.
The braking system of the standard Continental GT already features the largest diameter brake discs of any production passenger car on sale today. The new Continental GT Diamond Series further extends the car’s performance boundaries by using new carbon ceramic brakes, a first for a production Bentley.
Boasting 420 x 40 mm carbon-silicon carbide, cross-drilled front discs and 356 x 28 mm rears, the new brakes are even larger than the standard GT. The new brakes offer significant performance benefits together with a 23 kg reduction in rotating unsprung mass benefiting steering response and handling.
"The standard Continental GT has the biggest brakes fitted to any production car, so braking performance is already superb," says Member of the Board, Engineering, Dr Ulrich Eichhorn. "The carbon ceramic brakes deliver a major improvement in braking performance and pedal feel, while their lighter weight benefits both vehicle handling and steering response. Bentley believes in building the ultimate. Carbon ceramic brakes are another example of this philosophy."
The Continental GT Diamond Series features new open-design 9J x 20-inch, 14-spoke forged alloy wheels giving a good view of the handsome new brakes and their impressive black, 8-piston front callipers. More importantly, these bigger wheels improve road holding as well as brake cooling.
The Continental GT Diamond Series is based on the Mulliner Driving Specification, designed by Bentley’s bespoke coachbuilding division in direct response to customers’ requests for a GT with a more overtly sporting, contemporary character.
The Diamond Series features derived from the Mulliner Driving Specification include quilted rather than straight-fluted leather seats, quilted door casings, solid drilled alloy brake and accelerator pedals, leather and chrome sports gear lever – with knurled top – and dark stained walnut or piano black wood, for a sportier appearance.
Externally, the Diamond Series is distinguished by unique tread plates and badges and a Mulliner alloy fuel filler cap.
The magnificent W12 twin-turbo 6-litre, 552bhp engine is unchanged, as is the six-speed automatic transmission with manual change mode and paddle shift. The four-wheel drive system with Torsen differential, and air suspension with continual damping control benefit road holding and primary safety. As with the normal Continental GT, the Diamond Series model has an official top speed of 198mph – although some independent tests have suggested its true maximum is over 200mph.
The three additional Diamond Series colours are Moroccan Blue (bright blue), Anthracite (grey black) and Meteor (steel blue grey). It is expected that over 80 percent of customers will opt for one of the special colours, although the existing 15 Continental GT colours may also be specified.
"Our research shows buyers of the Continental GT value, above all, the Continental GT’s sporty and classical design, its awesome performance, the appeal of the Bentley marque as well as its sheer practicality," says Dr Paefgen. "Eighty percent of all Continental GT customers are new to the Bentley marque, migrating not only from top-end luxury coupes but also supercars such as Ferrari – attracted by its mix of high performance and extraordinary refinement. More than two years after sales began, worldwide demand for the Continental GT remains strong."