At last week’s 2012 Paris Auto Show Bentley unveiled a race car concept based on its luxury-oriented Continental GT. Simply labelled the Continental GT3, the one-off concept is confirmation of Bentley’s interest in returning to motorsports, which could include a new one-make racing series for the Continental coupe similar to what rivals such as Maserati and Lamborghini currently do with some of their cars.
While Bentley concedes the concept provides a solid foundation for the automaker’s “long-term” motorsport plans, to keep interest alive in the shorter term, we could see a road-going version of the car. In fact, as early as October of last year we reported that Bentley could launch a track-focused version of its Continental GT, perhaps as a replacement for the Continental Supersports model.
Now, Autocar is reporting that this track-focused version could be a production Bentley Continental GT3. With pricing similar to the range-topping Continental Supersports, somewhere close to $553k, the production Continental GT3 would be the most potent model in the Continental range.
This means that output from its twin-turbocharged 6.0-litre W-12 engine would likely be turned up to around 522 kilowatts. However, the lighter and more responsive twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 may be offered instead. Going into the future, Bentley will be positioning its 12-cylinder engines at the prestige end of the market, while the V-8s will be aimed at performance buyers.
Though the race concept featured a rear-wheel drive chassis, the production version would likely remain all-wheel drive for safety reasons. Other changes would likely include a more subtle exterior and a plusher cabin -- it's still a Bentley after all. If given the green light, expect the production Continental GT3 to go on sale in 2014 at the earliest. Numbers will be limited, so perhaps only around 300 examples will see the light of day.