One thing that has always separated Bentley from its former longtime partner Rolls-Royce is its racing heritage. Bentley trots out this factoid from time to time when it wants to go back to the track, as it did at Le Mans from 2001 to 2003 with the Speed 8 and as it is doing now with the Continental GT3 in the Blancpain Endurance Series in Europe and the Pirelli World Challenge here in the States.
Whipping well-heeled motorsports fans into a froth over Bentley race cars doesn’t serve much purpose unless you can then give them something to buy. So along comes the GT3-R, a limited-edition brand stretcher intended to test the waters for even sportier Bentleys that may come down the chute later.
Priced at $339,725, or more than $135,000 costlier than a base Continental V-8 S, the 300 copies of the GT3-R that Bentley says it will build will not be GT3s with license plates. In other words, the GT3-R is not a slammed, rear-wheel-drive racing shell with a sequential transmission, a roll cage, and a rather large Gatorade bottle. Instead, it’s a massaged Continental GT V-8 S that has been horse-whipped to 572 horsepower and 516 lb-ft, increases of 51 and 14. That’s a lot of sauce out of 244 cubic inches. Actually, there’s an overboost function that makes possible 592 horses and 553 lb-ft for 15 seconds, which is not long enough to get down the Mulsanne straight but more than sufficient to scare the caviar lunch out of your passenger.
Yes, just one passenger, because to achieve its 220-pound weight savings over the regular Conti, the GT3-R goes without back seats, instead offering a diamond-pleated parcel shelf to go with your diamond-pleated buckets. This is the first Bentley that anyone at the factory could remember with absolutely no wood (although the Bentley PR team later pointed out that the ISR from a few years back also lacked wood). Instead, the GT3-R features carbon trim on the doors and the center and overhead consoles. If you miss that detail, the slashes of grasshopper-green trim fairly scream that you’re in for a different kind of Bentley experience, despite the fact that the car is still weighty, at a factory-claimed 4840 pounds. Complete review on www.caranddriver.com, by AARON ROBINSON