Saturday, 22 February 2020

BentleyWe drive Bentley's Continental GT Ice Racer FIRST DRIVE

It can't go wrong with light bars and skis, right?
Indeed not. This is perhaps the only Continental GT that Bentley created for the GP ice race last month.
It's not on ice now, is it?
No. We managed to intercept the carrier on the way back from Austria to Crewe and redirect it to a test track so that we could go quickly.
And is it fast?
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Of course. It is mechanically identical to a standard Conti GT W12 - meaning that the 5,950 cc twin-turbo W12 produces a torque of 626 hp and 664 lb ft (from just 1,350 rpm, punching fans). No changes in the gear or final drive, because when you have so much torque at the tickover, which gear is not relevant to you in principle. So it's as hard as a standard Conti GT (0-60 mph in 3.6 sec) but just feels a bit looser while you do this.
Why is that?
Although the suspension is the same, the standard air springs are raised 30 mm to give the car extra ground clearance - and more visual impact - plus it runs on 22-inch Pirelli Scorpion tires, which have metal studs drilled.
Hold on, were you driving on asphalt on studded tires?
Yes, not unusual, just talk to your friendly local Scandanaviaan. You just don't want to drive too long, or ideally to carry them too heavy. At this stage I have to say the following: Bentley, I apologize for the sideways curves. Hard to resist because not only the ESP is completely switched off, but the torque distribution calibration has been changed to send more power to the rear axle, depending on the circumstances.
Conditions than skiddy.
That is clearly the case. What is remarkable is that the Conti GT feels almost as ballistic. A Conti GT weighs 2,244 kg as standard, so it - with roll container, fire extinguishing system and harnesses - must weigh more than 2.3 tonnes. Yet it slides with authority.
But hardly relevant.
What do you mean?! This is an ice racer, the windshield must be a blind plate, all visibility needs are taken care of by the side windows. It is impressive to drive. You immediately notice the extra height if you are at a level that is halfway a Bentayga. A standard Conti GT controls its weight and movement reasonably well. By jacking it up, you get more attention for squat, pitch and dive. The 48v anti-roll is still active, so blame the height and your inner ear.
It's pretty endearing. Instead of swinging or slipping over it, it is simply compressed and continues. I think the tweaks mean that it is sending at least 80 percent of the force back, because it leaves the corners neutral, all four wheels pointing straight ahead, the track slightly bent, or actually quite flamboyant. Steering is a bit more out of the way (we can blame the squishy tires), but all in all this is a Bentley off-roader that allows us to get on board all the way.
How does it sound
Almost forgot! It sounds great because Bentley thought it was appropriate to ruin the standard muffled exhaust and a set of noisy Akrapovic pipes instead. The sound is loud, fresh and funny. Matches the much more, well, open features of this GT. It's not a car lurking at parties in a dark corner, wishing he was home with his jimjams on - he has an attitude and an attitude. In addition to being 30 mm higher, the track widths are also 15 mm wider. That's not much, but makes a noticeable difference. At the top there is a Lazer light bar and a set of Bomber for Bentley Centenary Edition skis.
And what about indoors?
Large seats. Huge. They take up even more real estate than the multi-adjustable seats in the regular car. Thick filling, you lock in place, allow almost no movement. There is an ignition opening in the cup holders, but the best detail is the mode button. Where you once found Sport, you will now find Ice GT, complete with a small mountain image. It's just a sticker, but it's the thought that counts.
Go directly into production?
Absolutely not. It is destined to remain a nice one-off project car. This raises the question: what would you like to see do differently?

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