Bentley and Audi are co-developing an all-new V8 engine that will go into the new Continental GT towards the end of next year and also be used for a number of high-performance Audis.
The 4.0-litre direct-injection unit will help to lower the average fuel consumption and emissions of both makers ranges. However, the partners are remaining tight-lipped about further details at this stage, apart from saying that its CO2 output will be 40% below that of the W12 unit in the car.
We are adapting it four our purposes so that it delivers Bentley driving characteristics [lots of low-to-mid-range torque], says Brian Gush, Bentleys director of chassis and powertrain. He would not say whether it is turbocharged, but added: It does not have a conventional layout.
The 6.0-litre W12 engine has also been reworked for the new GT and now delivers increased power and torque with lower consumption and emissions, helped by a 65kg weight reduction in the new car.
Weve continued to refine it throughout its life and have now reduced internal friction and fitted lighter components, says Gush. Bentley remains far and away the largest producer of 12-cylinder engines in the world.
The new Continental GT is based on the same underpinnings as the current model, but there have been improvements to the gearbox, four-wheel-drive system, stability control and chassis.
This has completely changed the cars character, says Gush. Its been sharpened up and made more focused. The ESP [stability control] has been tuned to take advantage of the more rear-biased torque split and the wider tracks on each axle. It recognises when the driver knows what hes doing and will not intervene.
The car has been totally redesigned inside and out, but is still instantly recognisable as a Continental GT, says Gush. It also shows great attention to detail in the quest to save weight moving the front seat belts from the seats to the door pillars has shaved 18kg off the car and also helped to create a bit more rear space by allowing thinner front seatbacks.
The new car goes on sale in the first quarter of 2011, priced at 135,760, but the more powerful two-seater Supersports version of the current Continental GT remains in production.