Bentley Continental GT
Since its introduction in the early 2000s the Bentley Continental GT has been a runaway success and, following a few facelifts during the intervening years, this new version successfully reinvigorates the coupe’s appeal with a raft of changes that catapult it to the top of the class. The latest model’s styling grabs the eye, while the fabulously luxurious and lavishly equipped interior feels a cut above anything else you can buy for the money. Throw in a thoroughly reworked driving experience that – courtesy of a new chassis shared with the Porsche Panamera – brings a thrilling —level of responsiveness, plus Bentley’s muscular 4.0-litre V8 or 6.0-litre W12 engines, and the recipe for the world’s greatest GT car is complete.
The luxury ‘grand touring’ coupe market has always offered an array of drool-worthy exotics, and the latest Bentley Continental GT arrives in a marketplace with some formidable rivals. A four-seat cabin and £150k-plus price point throw the Conti GT into battle with the Aston Martin DB11 coupe, the Ferrari GTC4 Lusso, the Mercedes-AMG GT and S-Class coupes, the Maserati GranTurismo and Porsche 911.
It’s a critical model for Bentley, and follows in the footsteps of a predecessor that earned unprecedented sales success for the marque. It was the first model developed under VW Group ownership when Bentley split from Rolls-Royce in 1998, and it brought the Bentley brand to the attention of a new breed of customer far removed from the traditional ‘English gent’ who had previously typified Bentley owners.
The first generation Continental GT arrived in 2003, and a revised version arrived in 2011. That makes this the third-generation Continental GT, which also comes complete with a convertible model, boasting a fabric roof that can fold in just 19 seconds at speeds of up to 30mph.
Like its predecessor, the Bentley Continental GT is available only with four-wheel drive, but its relationship with the Porsche Panamera has brought an entirely new driving experience to the model. It’s still blisteringly quick and offers a remarkable level of grip for such a large, heavy vehicle, but significantly more advanced suspension means the model offers both a more comfortable and refined ride, as well as more engaging handling for enthusiastic drivers. The huge 420mm front and 380mm rear brake discs – claimed to be the largest on any production car – provide unrivalled stopping power.
The torque-split of the four-wheel-drive system has also been rethought for the new Continental GT. In Comfort mode up to 38 per cent can be directed to the front wheels, providing the reassuring stability and security you’d expect from a four-wheel-drive car. The more sporting Bentley drive mode provides a middle ground with more torque directed to the rear plus a dash of extra damping control and more urgent throttle and gearbox responses.
Select Sport mode and around 85 per cent of the engine’s torque is directed to the rear wheels, while the suspension, engine, gearbox mapping and exhaust note are dialled up for maximum thrills.
On the road the Comfort setting provides a pillowy ride that improves on its already impressive predecessor, but the Bentley drive mode delivers a superb combination of comfort and body control that allows you to devour tarmac in total relaxation.
Selecting Sport mode brings a thrilling added dimension of vitality and dynamism, and means you can throw the car around in a way that belies its considerable size. The new-found precision from both the steering and the chassis, plus the prodigious performance, provide an intoxicating mix of agility and fun.