Driven: Bentley Continental GT3-R

It is not very often that you get to drive a supercar on a race track and it is an even more special occasion when it is a big British beast from Bentley and their Motorsport team. The Continental GT3-R is a model hand-crafted in Crewe based off their epic GT3 race car and I recently had the opportunity to throw this lighter, lower very capable Bentley Continental GT3-R around the Phakisa Raceway in Welkom.

Most of you clued up petrol heads will know that it is based on the brilliant V8 S but what you probably don’t know is that it has gone on a 100 kg diet (rear seats removed), been fitted with carbon ceramic brakes and the interior has been fully loaded with carbon fibre. The GT3-R has shortened the last drive ratio of the 8 speed Quickshift transmission and fiddled with the calibration to make the gear changes even faster. Thanks to this improvement and the weight loss, you can now hit 100 km/h from stand still in just 3.8 seconds, making it the fastest accelerating road-going Bentley ever. I must be honest with myself and say that I thought the ‘R’ in the title meant race but in actual fact it means road so loosely translated it is an extreme road-going GT but still loaded with the usual Bentley luxuries the customers have become accustomed to.

On to the the actual drive which is why I am sure most of you are reading this and simply put it smashes what a majority of people think about Bentley’s out of the water. Powering this beast is the same 4.0-litre V8 from the Continental V8 S but it gets a 37 kW and 40 Nm increase in power and torque. This takes the final numbers up to 426 kW and 700 Nm respectively. Top speed of this thing is a scary 304 km/h and while we did not get close to this on the track you can feel how easily this car can actually reach that figure (and probably go beyond it).

As you get inside the car you are greeted with all the things you would expect in a Bentley such as; black Beluga leather, electrically adjustable seats, alcantara steering-wheel, Breitling clock and glossy carbon all over the show.

As I set off in the car I immediately felt just how nimble the car was bearing in mind it weighs 2.2 tons and I was already put on the back foot. Foot to the floor and the titanium quad-exhausts fill the cabin with an epic V8 soundtrack and this urges you to push the car harder and harder around the corners and onto the straights. The torque-vectoring system (first Bentley to have) works magic on drivers like myself because if you push it too hard in our out of a corner, this brings you back into line quickly and efficiently but not too violently which helps keeping the car stable through the corner. Keeping the car stuck to the tarmac is a set of 21″ Pirelli tyres and to be honest with traction control on and the all-wheel-drive system working its charm, you feel invincible in this car. I could go on and on about how this car will blow your mind around a track (especially driven by Bentley’s professional driver) but go back into normal drive mode and you could drive this thing from Johannesburg to Cape Town without battering an eyelid.

Was this car necessary you may ask? The answer is 100% yes and that is because it is absolutely fantastic! They are only making 300 of them and the demand is outstripping the supply ten fold which re-enforces the point that they have made a winner here.

Price estimated to be around R8 million and if things go well, we can expect one or two making their way on to our South African roads.

A huge thank you the Bentley Motors South Africa for the opportunity to drive such a car and it is an absolute privilege to put a car like this through its paces around a purely South African racetrack. Thanks to Marc Rudman Photography once again for some shots of the car at the track and at the dealership.

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