Our exclusive image of the new Bentley Continental GT previews how the car will look when it hits showrooms in 2018

The Bentley Continental GT may only have been facelifted a relatively short time ago, but underneath the bodywork the car is now 13 years old. As such Bentley has got to work on a brand new generation of the GT, which is set to go on sale in spring 2018.

As our exclusive render shows, the GT will look much sleeker than the heavily clad test versions that have been spied on the roads over the last few months, with several improvements made to boost performance.

Flagship models will come powered by a new 6.0-litre W12 twin-turbo engine that first appeared in the Bentayga SUV, delivering 650bhp and 900Nm of torque. This will bring with it a 0-62mph time of around 3.8 seconds, and a top speed in the region of 210mph. Prices are yet to be confirmed, although an estimate for the final figure has been given as £155,000.

2017 Bentley Continental GT review - front

Meanwhile, a redeveloped version of the more modest 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 will also be offered.

Performance figures aside, key to the overhaul is redesigned chassis technology that will underpin the two-door coupe. The MSB platform, first used on the new Porsche Panamera, is considerably lighter than the architecture from the current Continental. And having shaved 200mm off the platform’s wheelbase, it represents a big step forward from the VW Phaeton underpinnings of the outgoing model.

It’s likely that this GT will shed around 100kg in total – thanks to the new aluminium body, fresh chassis and new engines – but will still tip the scales at over two tonnes. Bentley has had to significantly raise its game with the all new model following increased competition from the likes of the McLaren 570GT, Aston Martin DB11 and Mercedes-AMG S 63 Coupe.

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In addition to the conventional petrol engines, Bentley CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer has also previously expressed an interest in a plug-in hybrid version of the new Continental, which is expected to adopt the powertrain from the Panamera E-Hybrid – a mix of a twin-turbo 2.9-litre V6 and electric motor, for a combined output of 455bhp.

Bentley has the option of introducing a diesel Continental for the first time, too. The 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 diesel also from the Bentayga could address a common gripe with current buyers, who are frustrated not by the cost of refills, but by the inconvenience of visits to the pumps.

Spy shots from the first half of 2017 revealed that the coupe will take cues from the EXP 10 Speed 6 concept that appeared at the Geneva Motor Show last year. That model will make it into production as a two-seater sports car – expected to be called the Barnato – while the Continental will remain a more practical 2+2.

A lower nose, more sculpted bonnet and new two-part LED headlamps will make up the bulk of the changes at the front – and while Bentley has gone to great lengths to ensure that the headlamps are disguised, we expect the trademark two-part lights to remain. The iconic rear haunches and cascading roofline have also been spotted. While the car will be partly inspired by the EXP 10 Speed 6 concept, the spy shots confirm an evolution of the Continental GT’s look rather a radical overhaul.

Bentley Continental GT Cabrio - spy shot 4

While the Continental GT will arrive first, the drop-top GTC – which has been spied alongside the coupe development testing – will follow shortly after, with the same visual and technology changes. As with the current model, it will stick with a folding fabric roof to help keep weight down. The range will then expand further with the addition of a new Flying Spur saloon.

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Bentley’s product offensive, initiated by the Bentayga SUV, is part of Dürheimer’s plan to increase annual global sales to around 20,000 units by 2020.

2018 Bentley Continental GT render

2017 Bentley Continental GT review - front

2017 Bentley Continental GT review - rear

2017 Bentley Continental GT review - front

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2017 Bentley Continental GT review - side

Bentley Continental GT spied - front

Bentley Continental GT spied - rear

Bentley Continental GT - exclusive image front (watermarked)

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Bentley Continental GT - exclusive image rear (watermarked)

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