Hit H-1 in Bentley’s roadside version of its racecar GT3.

To commemorate Bentley’s return to road racing, its Continental GT has received, to put it mildly, a high-performance remake. And to make this modified GT even more attractive, only 300 will be produced, and only 99 will be sold in the United States.

Of course, the regular GT is no slouch. Starting with a nicely shaped two-door coupe with a big and powerful V-8, GT combines performance and looks.

But to emulate racecar speed, two normal approaches do the trick: less weight and more power. With the GT3-R, a titanium exhaust system is added; super-light carbon fiber is found in the hood, front spoiler, on the lower sills and other locations. Even the rear seats have been removed, and a small shelf is found in their place.

On the power front, the already stout twin-turbo, 4-liter V-8 receives some reworking, resulted in 572 horsepower, which is a 49-horsepower increase.

An eight-speed, fully automatic transmission sends power to the all-wheel-drive system. Using the paddles behind the steering wheel, or by using the gearshift lever, gear changes are manually made. Various shifting modes are available (to hold gears longer for greater acceleration).

motors_20151201_01

Picture 1 of 5

And to further reinforce the racing connection, GT3-R features a large, carbon-fiber spoiler—planted atop the trunk lid—and super-sized, carbon-ceramic brakes to help in the stopping department. Th e 21-inch wheels and sticky tires combine to buttresses the handling agenda.

Seating is not only designed for looks and comfort, but also to hold the driver and passenger in place using high bolstering all around. Beluga-hide sports seats, with GT3 logos, have an interesting stitching pattern, and provide a good deal of comfort. In an interesting color pattern, green swatches are spread about the vehicle to brighten up its interior.

Luxury features have been retained, so that everyday driving is completely enjoyable. A large, 8-inch touch video
screen is found in the center of the dash—to handle every function from navigation to Bluetooth connections. Ironically, a Breitling analog clock is positioned above the screen. But a side benefit to that connection is that the buyer of this special-edition Bentley receives a Breitling wristwatch, plus a racing helmet.

Press the engine start button and the powerful V-8 jumps to life with a throaty exhaust note. For cruising in town, the normal drive setting of the gearshift is exciting enough for nearly anyone. But more fun and power come by choosing the sport mode. Gears are held longer, and the exhaust note changes to a snap-crackle-and-pop reverberation when backing off. Acceleration for this super luxury coupe is dazzling. Zero-to-60 time is 3.6 seconds. Top speed is a little slower than the regular GT at 170 mph because gear changes emphasize low-end acceleration. And even with the large wheels and super handling, the daily ride is amazingly smooth on uneven pavement.

HILuxury’s test car was No. 92 of the 99 sold in the U.S., and certainly will be a collector’s vehicle; but this GT should be driven daily to fully enjoy this street racer.

BENTLEY CONTINENTAL GT3-R

PERFORMANCE: 0-60 IN 3.4 SECONDS; TOP SPEED: 170 MPH

POWERTRAIN: 572-HORSEPOWER TWIN-TURBO 4-LITER V-8; EIGHT-SPEED AUTOMATIC; ALL-WHEEL-DRIVE

SOUND SYSTEM: EIGHT-CHANNEL, EIGHT-SPEAKER AUDIO SYSTEM WITH BALANCED-MODE RADIATOR SPEAKERS

PRICE: $346,740, AS TESTED

All photos courtesy Bentley Motors, Inc.