Development of the next generation Continental GT continues and now a development prototype has been photographed. The exciting part is that this Bentley coupé looks decidedly more “Bentley” than the last one we saw, which was dressed up like a Porsche.

The current Continental GT has roots going back to the original Continental GT, which debuted in 2003 and is due for a refresh.  It’s expected that the next GT will retain the current Continental’s 2+2 seating and it’s classic coupé profit. The next Continental could debut as soon as 2018.

Taking a look at the images that surfaces yesterday, there is something very interesting about the car.  Do you see it?  That’s right. This thing looks exactly like the EXP 10 Speed 6.  It looks so much like that concept car that at least one UK magazine believes this is a Speed 6 concept.  We don’t share that belief.

20160223 Bentley Continental GT III Mule 01

After spending some time analyzing the images, we can see that the headlights obviously look like the concept car.  The curve of the C pillar looks exactly the same as the concept car.  However, the tail is decidedly Continental.  And then there’s the big giveaway: this car has a back seat.

Speed 6 headlamps lurking beneath camouflage

Speed 6 headlamps lurking beneath camouflage

Now here is where I get to speculate.  I’ve believed for sometime that it would be easier to base the Speed 6 off of the next generation Continental GT.  The savings in engineering wouldn’t just be in the form of currency….it would save time.  It’s only way I see Bentley being able to launch a new Continental in 2018 and the Speed 6 in ’19 or ’20.

The Speed 6 has won numerous awards since its launch.  Like, a crazy amount of awards.  Why wouldn’t Bentley want to leverage that outstanding design into its most popular car?  Now what we don’t know is if this is the true design direction of the Continental or if Bentley just dressed it up like this because this design is already known (and they knew it would wind me up!)

20160223 Bentley Continental GT III Mule 02

Okay, getting back to what is fact or believed to be fact at this time. It is known that the next generation Continental will share a platform with the next generation Porsche Panamera. Both cars will be based around VW’s MSB platform with allows for a front, longitudinal mounted engine and all-wheel drive.

In addition to the current Continental’s 4.0l V8, the car will also ship with a new version of the W12 (the new version is currently available in the Bentayga.)  Additionally, Porsche has some pretty good hybrid/plug-in hybrid technology in the current generation Panamera.

It’s a safe bet that the new Panamera will have the next evolution of that system.  Because we’re talking about the two cars being built from the MSB platform, I think the it’s very possible the next Continental will also ship with this same hybrid technology.

20160223 Bentley Continental GT III Mule 04

Stay tuned to for more coverage. As Bentley moves closer to production, we’re going to see the car photographed more frequently.

Headlamp photo credit: Carscoops