Bentley Continental R
|Also called||Continental S Continental T|
|Engine||6.75 L turbo Bentley V8|
|Transmission||4-sp 4L80-E automatic|
|Wheelbase||120.5 in (3,061 mm)|
|Length||210.3 in (5,342 mm)|
|Width||80.5 in (2,045 mm)|
|Height||57.6 in (1,463 mm)|
|Kerb weight||5,340 lb (2,420 kg)|
|Related||Bentley Mulsanne Bentley Azure|
The Bentley Continental R is a large, expensive, luxury coupé made by Bentley from 1991 to 2002. It was the first Bentley to feature a body not shared with a Rolls-Royce model since the S3 of 1965, the first to use the GM 4L80-E transmission, and the quickest, most expensive, and most powerful Bentley of its day. A convertible derivative, the Bentley Azure, was launched in 1995.
Many elements of the Continental R design were first seen at the 1984 Geneva Motor Show in Rolls-Royce's "Project 90" concept car, a mock-up of a future Bentley coupé. An enthusiastic reception led the company to develop the vehicle for production as the Continental R 1991. Based on the Bentley Turbo R floorpan, an aerodynamically shaped coupé body had been styled. The Continental debuted at the 1991 Geneva Motor Show, and the Sultan of Brunei purchased the show car on-site.
The "Continental" designation recalls the Bentley Continental of the post-war period. The "R" was meant to recall the R Type Bentleys from the 1950s as well as the Turbo R of the 1980s.
The car's body, styled by John Heffernan and Ken Greenley, was a departure for the marque. It had a slight curvature in stark contrast to the flat-sided Rolls-Royce and Bentley vehicles of the time. While its 0.465 coefficient of drag was not impressive in itself, it was a large improvement over previous Bentleys. The Continental R also featured roof-cut door frames,a subtle spoiler effect in the rear, and 18-inch alloy wheels.
The 6.75 L Garrett-turbocharged engine from the Bentley Turbo R was chosen for use in the Continental R. Power output of 325 hp (242 kW) and torque of 450 lb·ft (610 N·m) was estimated, as Rolls-Royce refused to supply official figures.
The car used the new 4-speed GM 4L80-E automatic transmission and featured ventilated disc brakes in the front wheels. Top speed was 145 mph (233 km/h), and Rolls-Royce estimated a 0-60 mph (97 km/h) time of 6.6 seconds. The Continental R was priced at US$271,780 in 1992.
The Continental S was a limited-edition performance model made in 1994 and 1995 with an intercooler added. Only thirty seven were produced, after which the intercooler was made available in the Continental R. This engine had an estimated 385 horsepower, up 60 from the non-intercooled version, and 0-60 times improved to 6.1 seconds.
The Continental R California Edition was a limited edition of 6 wide body coupes produced in 1998 only. Other than the California Editions one other wide body was made in 1998. Number six only was fitted with the full-spec Continental T engine that just became available in 1998 with some 420 hp (313 kW) and a maximum torque of 650 lb·ft (881 N·m). This car was the first Continental R fitted with the 420 engine, and the only one under English ownership. The larger dual-caliper brakes were also fitted to number six as well as numerous other features that later were incorporated into the 2000-2003 Continental R420 including push button start, eight gauges, and other unique features. Perhaps number six was the inspiration for the later R420, both of which performed similarly to the Continental R Mulline
The Continental R Mulliner model range, offered from March 1999, was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show. The Bentley Continental R Mulliner was equipped with the most powerful engine after the Continental T. This engine had a power output of 420 hp (313 kW) and a maximum torque of 650 lb·ft (881 N·m). The car could be pushed to a top speed of some 170 mph (274 km/h). 0-60 mph (97 km/h) times dropped to 5.6 seconds with the computer nannies left on, and if an owner was willing to shred their tires for 50 or more yards, capable of 5.1 second times with the traction control off and abusive driving practices.
Under German ownership (1999–2003), several other special editions were made with at least some of them fitted with the 420 engine including the Le Mans and Continental R420 and Millenium. A total of 194 Continental R motor cars had the 420 engine—some of which were also wide body cars. The 420 engine was achieved with the replacement of the air-to-air charge cooler with an air-to-water unit, as well as software changes to take advantage of the greater cooling to allow more boost for a longer period.
The high-performance Bentley Continental T brought sportier handling and higher power to the Continental range.
The Bentley Continental T had 590 lb·ft (800 N·m) and from 1997 650 lb·ft (881 N·m) positioned this car at the top. The Continental T was a 2+2 coupé developed from the Bentley Continental R with a more athletic outward appearance due to a 4-inch (10 cm) shorter wheelbase and extended front and rear wheel arches. The interior featured an engine-turned dash with chrome-finished instruments (as opposed to the wood finish in the Continental R). The Continental T's engine responded to a separate push-button starter. Performance, due to 200 lb (91 kg) less weight, was slightly better than the Continental R cars with the same 420 engine.
The Bentley Continental T Mulliner was introduced in 1999. Modified shock absorbers in combination with stiffer torsion bars (front +40%, rear +20%) increased the Continental's handling ability.
Continental SC Sedanca
The Continental SC Sedanca was a short production version of the Continental T of 73 units, with a lift-out glass sun roof over the front two seats. Produced in 1999, owners for this model included boxer Mike Tyson. There were also six Mulliner SC's built.
- Continental R/S: 1504
- Continental R (1991–2002): 1236
- Continental S (1994–1995): 37
- Continental R California Edition (1998): 6
- Continental R (2000) Millenium Edition: 10
- Continental R Mulliner (1999–2003): 131
- Continental R 420 (2000–2003): 38
- Continental R Le Mans (2001): 46
- Continental T: 350
- Continental T (1996 — 2002): 322
- Continental T Mulliner (1999): 23
- Continental T Le Mans (2001): 5
- Continental SC (1999): 73
- Continental SC Mulliner (1999): 6