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For almost a year now, we’ve been anticipating the return of Bentley to Le Mans Racing, with the possibility of racing in the GT3 category. Well, now it’s pretty official as photos of the new Bentley Continental GT3 race car has leaked ahead of its unveiling at the 2012 Paris Motor Show.
With the advent of hybrids and electric vehicles, many skeptics thought the age of high-performance sports car would die out. Reality couldn’t be any more different, as America has more than 70 cars on sale today that make 500-hp or more.
The number of vehicles pushing out 500-hp or more has nearly doubled in the last five years. What is more remarkable is more than a decade ago, there were just two vehicles in the club: the Ferrari 575M and the Lamborghini Murcielago. Now Ferrari alone has four models pushing out over 500-hp.
The ability to pump out so much horsepower has been aided by the leaps and bounds that engineering and technology has made over the last decade. Automakers are now able to equip their vehicles with smaller, more fuel efficient engines, which thanks to forced induction, can reliably crank out plenty of peak horsepower.
The 2012 Women’s World Car of the Year short list has just been announced, and women motoring writers from around the world will begin voting for their top picks.
Cutting a list of contenders from 300 down to 32, judges will now allocate points to the nominated cars that fall into four categories: Family Car, Luxury Car, Sports Car and Economy Car. Just one of the 10 criteria that cars are allotting points for is Child Friendliness, which is something vehicles aren’t usually judged on in a competition.
Winners of the 2012 Women’s World Car of the Year will be announced before the end of March, and awards will be presented at the Paris Motor Show in September. You can check out the complete short list after below.
The new Bentley Continental GT and GTC V8 still doesn’t have a scheduled release date, but that hasn’t stoped the British automaker from releasing more photos of the two upcoming models to whet our appetite.
The new V8-powered Continental features a 4.0L, twin-turbo engine with 500-hp and 487 lb-ft of torque with an eight-speed automatic transmission. With the new V8 engine, the GT reportedly can get up to 33-mpg on the highway, which is extremely impressive for a vehicle with 500-hp.
On the outside, the V8 model will have slightly different exterior features than its W12 counterpart including a glossy black grille with chrome frame and center bar, a red enameled Bentley “B” badge, and a black mesh three-segment front bumper.
Even though US pricing still hasn’t been announced, the UK buyers will be paying a base price of around $196,215 (£123,850) while the rest of Europe has a starting price of around $179,000 (€136,000) based on today’s conversion rates. We expected American pricing to be closer to $175,000 than $200,000.
GALLERY: Bentley Continental GT and GTC V8
Bentley turned to the skies to make its new Continental V8 debut one to remember out in Germany. The new 4.0L V8 Continental GT coupe went flying (literally) above downtown Munich thanks to a very sturdy harness and excellent helicopter pilot.
Obviously a marketing and publicity stunt more than anything else, Bentley also needed a way to beat the traffic jams in order to get to the SkyLounge, a glazed bridge between two skyscrapers. The fashionable SkyLounge is where an exclusive Bentley Continental V8 launch party was held with 300 VIP guests, and of course the car was the guest of honor.
“A dramatic car got the debut we felt it deserved and we took a little bit of our inspiration from Bentley’s iconic ‘Winged B’ emblem. On a practical level the helicopter was the fastest way to get to the rooftop podium,” said Klaus Becker, General Manager of Bentley Munich.
Of course the cynic in us has to wonder how badly this could have gone for Bentley if someone had forgotten to tighten something.
Check out the video after the break.
Bentley recently found an interesting way to prove the all-wheel drive capabilities of its Continental sports car, taking to the sport of skijoring out at the Switzerland Alpine passes.
Skijoring, a winter sport that usually involves a person on skis being pulled by a horse or dogs, can sometimes be seen with a motor vehicle, but not commonly. Especially not with a luxury car like a Bentley Continental. Nonetheless, the British automaker teamed up with 16-time skijoring world champion Franco Moro to show off what the 570-hp Continental GT out in the snow. And of course it was recorded for all of us to enjoy on Youtube.
The event took place at a joring track in Rougermont, Switzerland, and we reckon this was the fastest Moro has ever experienced skijoring – around 40-mph.
Just out the two videos after the break.
GALLERY: Bentley Continental Skijoring
An insane nine car accident occurred out in Kiev, Ukraine, caused by a speeding Bentley Continental Flying Spur. And while this isn’t as painful to see as the Ferrari accident out in Japan, this Bentley did cause some real havoc.
Reports came in that the Bentley was just going way too fast at a junction, starting the accident that even involved a poor police officer that was controlling the junction. Fortunately he only suffered a fractured leg but the Mercedes-Benz CL500 that the Flying Spur hit can’t say the same. From the photos, the collision with the CL500 was so strong that most of the front end is missing and the engine is well, not quite where it’s supposed to be.
Check out the news report video after the break.
GALLERY: Bentley Continental Flying Spur Nine Car Accident
[Source: GT Spirit]