Test Drive: 2015 Bentley GT3-R
The fastest Bentley ever made gets inspiration from its track-driving cousin
"Racing changes the perception," says Brian Gush, Bentley’s Director of Motorsport. The Bentley GT3-R is the latest evolution of the brand's suave and still-alluring Continental GT—and the fastest Bentley ever made. It hauls ass in the most gentlemanly manner, politely even. Though it receives the expected luxury fittings, it takes most of its style cues—both styling and performance—from the automaker's successful GT3 race car.
Limited to only 300 worldwide (99 of them are in the USA), the car’s charm lies in its Jekyll and Hyde personality. Happy to hit the farmer’s market or the office without effort or wrangling, it’s truly an easy daily driver. And yet, it’s also a beast, able to effortlessly hit 60 mph in a mere 3.6 seconds with its turbocharged eight-cylinder engine and 572 hp under the hood. It stops as impressively with its massive carbon ceramic brakes.
Like its race car relative, this model is only available in the same Glacier White paint and Cool Hunting green accents (coincidence, we ask?), sporting a large GT3-R logo on its hips that’s a bit naff, but it works. The interior is a far cry from its spartan track car cousin, wrapping you in leather and carbon fiber trim. The backseat is gone, part of the nipping and tucking that has removed around 220 lbs from the standard GT.
What's most inspiring about the car is how well it brings sport to the GT but doesn't try to be something that it's not: a supercar. It's not the fastest car you can buy. It's not the best handling car. All of those require a very different starting point and driving experience. What it does do, that few others can, is so authentically blend its racing heritage with the luxury, performance and there-when-you-want-it power and packaging these attributes together in a car that works however you want to experience it.
We hit the road in the GT3-R with Gush for a quick tour around Pebble Beach and the winding roads around the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, drooling over the all-wheel drive car’s acceleration, sticky cornering and drivability—there’s no fighting to make this car perform. When in Drive mode it handles and sounds more like a GT. Putting the car in Sport mode, however, brings out the Hyde. The car's sound changes. Gears shift crisper and faster. Everything is tighter, and every corner is a new challenge waiting to be conquered.
We asked Gush about the design brief for the car. "Well, I used the same [designer]. We've got the road car. We've got the racecar. I want a very clear link. I didn't have to give him much of a brief. I wanted the racecar to look like the road car, and the road car to look like the racecar," he says.
“There’s so much handwork in the car, my production colleagues aren’t that happy with me,” Gush says laughingly. “The carbon fiber is all hand laid. The weave joints, it’s all bookmarked in a herringbone pattern and has a seam straight down the middle of the car. The seats are hand done.” He notes that because of all of this work, and the fact that the cars are made on the same production line as all other Bentleys, it made sense to build them at the same time. “Then the cars are taken to our small shop in the Motorsport department and they are finished off,” and sent to dealers around the world who snapped up the entire production run.
The Bentley Boy legend is alive and well.
The Bentley GT3-R will set you back around $337,000 in the USA. "You can have any color you want as long as its white," says Gush. Visit Bentley for details.
Lead image by Evan Orensten, additional images courtesy of Bentley