The launch of the new Bentley Continental GT is not fresh news, it was supposed to be launched six months earlier.
After an extra long model cycle of its predecessor, the new Bentley Continental GT has a high performance and refinement targets to match up to its competitors, especially on the technology edge – that it has certainly lived up to.
Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark says the company was not satisfied even with the PDK gearbox, so the official launch was delayed in favour of obtaining supremely smooth shifts. With so much detail and attention given to this launch, it certainly conveys Bentley’s commitments to perfect this continental model.
Bentley encapsulates quite a contradiction of ideals – it represents a paragon of tradition but also a crude signifier of wealth. The 99 years of heritage has to be balanced precariously with the increasing fascination with automotive one-upmanship in the industry, while the parent company tries to commit to innovation but remains adverse to experimentation.
Bearing the famous winged ‘B’, the first Continental GT was released in 2003 before an overhaul in 2011. Its striking, big, though slightly brutish body was loosely inspired by the legendary 1950s R-Type, clearly created for the mass-market. Over 65,000 GTs have been sold since its introduction, standing out as the most successful model of Bentley. From the design studio to details under the bonnet, the Continental has been sought after by enthusiasts.
While the concept remains close to that of 66 years ago, there are noble upgrades that reflects the great technological progression of this two thirds of a century – fast, powerful and comfortable on the road. The chassis and suspension are well harmonised that there are no bump, groove or hole this car can’t iron out.
The algorithmically controlled, pressurised air that it sits on also eliminates any roll on the tight, fast curves of a grand tour. Speed wise, Bentley claims a maximum of 207 mph for the GT, and a 0 to 60 of around 3.6 seconds. While the throttle response is not the sharpest, the overall driving experience is still a delightful and well-balanced one.
The Bentley Continental GT features endless and immediate accessible reserves of power in any gear or engine range. If you’re feeling impatient, the huge and responsive engine can propel forward with almost Tesla-esque levels of power and torque that’s available from a 1,350RPM. There’re even a dozen of buttons, knobs and dials offering massage options to work out a knot. While not the best on the market yet, the Bentley software also includes a smart satellite navigation that will smoothly cosset you through half a dozen European countries.
Bentley has taken meticulous care down to the smallest details that make a driving experience, such as the banging 16-speaker sound system with its very intuitive Bang & Olufsen touchscreen-based equaliser. You can opt for analogue and distraction-free dials with a simple click of a button, and the head-up display and driver’s screen dims upon entering a tunnel. It’s really really hard to think of a better car to take on long journeys around Europe.
On windier roads, however, the Bentley Continental GT suffer from its heavy weight, despite its weight loss of a good 80kg. The “sport” mode does help by tightening the suspension and automatic gear shifts thanks to the CEO’s extra thoughtfulness, but it pales to more sport-focused models like the Aston Martin DB11 on a twisty mountain tour.
All in all, the new Bentley Continental GT is a fine automobile that offers smooth and refined comfort for an impeccable drive, with just a dash of sportiness of a Grand Tourer.
For a reasonable price of £159,100, the new Bentley Continental GT now available for retail.