Fresh from its world premiere at the Frankfurt Motor Show last week, the new Bentley Continental GT was quickly shuttled to its Asian debut in Singapore on Friday. This marked the first time the car was seen outside the harsh motor show lights and out in the open, although the swift downpour meant that it was soaked almost as soon as the veil was pulled.

Even so, this preview event gave us a good first-hand look at Crewe’s new grand tourer, which has been inspired by the well-received EXP 10 Speed 6 concept. Its predecessors have always exuded presence but looked rather heavy-set, and while the new car is only 44 mm longer (4,850 mm), 10 mm wider (1,954 mm) and one millimetre taller (1,405 mm), the rejigged proportions have given it a whole different demeanour.

This has been achieved through a new platform designed for Bentley and shared with the latest Porsche Panamera, which has enabled the massive 6.0 litre twin-turbo W12 to be pushed behind the front wheels, pulling the latter some 135 mm forwards (the wheelbase has only grown 105 mm, to 2,851 mm). Thus, the bonnet has now been made longer and lower, giving it a proper GT look.

To match the new template, Bentley has gone for more sculpted bodysides, using a process called superforming – which involves heating aluminium panels to 500 degrees Celsius to shape them – on the entire side of the car to create voluminous surfaces whilst maintaining crisp lines and creases. The technique was previously only used for the sweptback front fenders.

Additionally, the “power line” stretching from the front wheel arches to the rear fender line has also been deleted, making for a simpler, more elegant look. Head of exterior design John Paul Gregory, who was present at the event, said that the styling of the new Continental GT is characterised by just three lines – a new “power line” going above the front fenders, the roofline and the rear haunch.

Details are important for any luxury product, and designers have paid particular attention to even the tiniest components. The matrix LED headlights, for example, features a criss-cross design inspired by cut crystal glasses, and in conjunction with the optional welcome sequence gradually illuminate as you approach the car. The effect is mirrored on the tail lights, which are now shaped like ellipses to match the twin tailpipes.

Speaking of which, the exhaust exits the exhaust exits are enclosed in a perforated sleeve that reduces exhaust temperatures. Meanwhile, the fender vents just aft of the front wheels feature a gorgeous shaved “12” graphic denoting the number of cylinders, which Gregory says will change when the inevitable V8, Speed, Supersports and GT3-R models come along.

Inside, the Continental GT continues to use a twin-wing design that echoes the shape of the Bentley badge, but it has been redeveloped to house the new technology on board. The upper layer is dominated by a digital instrument display and a new 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen that features optional Apple CarPlay connectivity, navigation with Google point of interest search and real-time traffic information, as well as Private eCall that provides instant access to emergency services.

That’s all well and good, but if you don’t want to look at all that, the main centre display can be hidden via the Bentley Rotating Display. This incredibly complicated device has three sides – aside from the touchscreen, you can also switch to three analogue gauges (outside air temperature, a compass and a chronometer), and when the car is turned off, it all goes away, leaving just veneer that matches the rest of the cabin.

As befits a Bentley, there’s over 10 square metres of wood in here – requiring nine hours to create and fit the inlays by hand – and for the first time customers can specify a dual-veneer option. The centre console is optionally available in aluminium and finished using a striped Côtes de Genève technique typically applied on the movements of luxury automatic Swiss watches.

The finishes on switches and dials have been tweaked, with some – including the paddle shifters and even the lever for pulling the front seats forward to access the rear – using pillow knurling instead of mechanical knurling for a softer, more refined feel. The air vents, bezels and other rotary controls, on the other hand, gain diamond knurling that adds a three-dimensional faceted surface. Bronze inserts have been placed between the surfaces of primary controls to create an extra level of fine detailing.

Slide into the front seats and you’ll find 20-way power adjustment as well as cooling, heating and massage functions. The quilted leather is typical of Bentley, but the optional “diamond-in-diamond” quilt is new here – it uses both stitching and embroidery, with the inner diamonds themselves featuring 712 stitches each. Acoustic laminated windscreen and side windows reduce passing car noise by as much as nine decibels.

To fill in the newfound quietness, buyers can choose between three sound system options, including a base 10-speaker 650-watt system, a mid-range 16-speaker 1,500-watt Bang & Olufsen BeoSonic option and the top-of-the-range Naim system you see here with a whopping 2,200 watts of output, 18 speakers and Active Bass Transducers built into the front seats, plus eight sound modes to choose from.

Elsewhere,there are also two technology option packs on offer, these being the City Specification and the Touring Specification. The former adds hands-free boot opening, pedestrian warning, traffic-sign recognition and city braking, while the latter throws in adaptive cruise control with traffic-jam assist, active lane assist, a heads-up display, night vision with an infrared camera, and pre-sense braking.

Customisation options are aplenty, with the full palette containing 17 standard exterior colours (up to 70 available in the extended range), 15 carpet options, eight veneers (plus four dual-veneer options) and 15 leather choices. Two 21-inch alloy wheel designs are provided as standard, with 22-inch lightweight forged items also available – as is a hand-finish option that gives a twisted polished finish.

Those looking for a sportier look for their car can choose the Mulliner Driving Specification, which features the larger wheels, “diamond-in-diamond” quilting, embroidered Bentley emblems, additional veneer options, sports pedals, an indented leather headliner and even a jewelled finish on the fuel filler. You can also personalise the front and rear stitching as well as the side sill plates, and as always Bentley’s Mulliner bespoke division can tailor your car to your heart’s desire.

With all the luxury on offer, it almost seems unnecessary to talk about the mechanical bits, but this is still a grand tourer after all. The aforementioned W12, all new from the Bentayga SUV and fitted with direct injection, produces 626 hp at 6,000 rpm and a tree-pulling 900 Nm of torque from 1,350 rpm to 4,500 rpm.

These figures that are 44 hp and a massive 180 Nm up over the outgoing model, enabling the big two-door – still weighing north of two tonnes, mind – to sprint from zero to 100 km/h in just 3.7 seconds (0.8 seconds quicker) before hitting a top speed that is 14 km/h higher, at 333 km/h.

At the same time, the use of cylinder deactivation and start/stop – which can switch the engine off even when coasting to a stop – cuts fuel consumption to 12.2 litres per 100 km. That may still sound like a lot, but it’s a significant reduction from the 14.2 litres of petrol the previous mill guzzled every 100 km. Carbon dioxide emissions have also been slashed some 16% to 278 grams per kilometre.

For the first time on a Bentley, the new Continental GT uses an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, with the engine’s dual-mass flywheel replacing the torque converter. There’s a Sport Launch mode that uses careful clutch pressure sensing and pre-loading to provide quicker acceleration during a race start.

A new active all-wheel drive replaces the previous fixed 40:60-split system – it’s predominantly rear-wheel drive for optimum efficiency and dynamic performance, only sending torque to the front wheels when needed. This reduces understeer and is claimed to increase driver engagement, helped along by the introduction of brake-activated torque vectoring, first seen on the GT3-R and Supersports.

The body structure of the new Continental GT uses mixed-material construction predominantly of aluminium, saving over 85 kg in body weight – although the car still weighs a staggering 2,244 kg. The more rearwards positioning of the powertrain has provided a more optimal weight distribution of 55:45 front-to-rear (from 58:42), which becomes 53:47 with the addition of two passengers and their luggage.

Suspension is handled by front double wishbones and rear , with 48-volt fully-adaptive roll control first seen on the Bentayga. Bentley calls it Dynamic Ride, and uses electronic actuators to control the anti-roll bar on each axle, improving both handling and ride comfort.

Also fitted is air suspension with three-chamber air springs, resulting in 60% more air volume in the softest setting compared to the previous model. This allows more scope for tuning the suspension to either increase ride comfort or provide a more dynamic handling character when needed, depending on the which of the three drive modes (Comfort, Bentley and Sport) the driver has selected.

Other new chassis technologies include the latest-generation Continuous Damper Control (CDC) as well as variable-ratio electric power steering, which is said to improve feedback and isolation from unwanted road disturbances. The brakes are 15 mm larger at the front, measuring 420 mm and clamped by huge 10-piston callipers. The 380 mm rear discs, meanwhile, get four-piston callipers.

Bentley has kept mum about exactly when the new Continental GT will arrive in the region, but has given a ballpark of 2018. What do you think of what must surely be Crewe’s most important model? Sound off in the comments section after the jump.