Bentley Continental GT review
Luxury Bentley Continental GT is a hugely accomplished grand tourer, especially in V8 guise
This second-generation Bentley Continental GT sticks to the popular formula established by the original and provides strong competition for the likes of Aston Martin and Mercedes.
The hand-built two-door four-seater coupe is made to the highest standards, with a luxury cabin that offers supreme comfort. Two engines are offered: an updated version of the 6.0-litre W12 from the original Conti GT (available with either 567bhp as standard, or 626bhp in the GT Speed) and a new 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 available with 500bhp as standard or an extra 21bhp in S spec.
We’d go for the latter, as it offers similar performance to the basic W12, has better handling and fuel economy, plus a great V8 soundtrack. If you want a luxurious grand tourer that can pamper four passengers and still be an entertaining driver’s car, the Continental GT is a great choice.
Our choice: Continental GT V8 S
The second Bentley Continental GT is an evolution of the original, with a low and wide stance and a big mesh grille up front, leaving no doubt about this car’s origins.
The V8 S and Speed models get subtle but sporty bodykits that don’t detract from the classy style. Mulliner Driving Spec (which is standard on the Speed) also gives you a few more bits and pieces, bigger 21-inch alloys for example and a plusher, sportier cabin with quilted hand-stitched leather on the seats.
Inside, Bentley’s usual high standards have been maintained, with luxurious leather trim, deep pile carpets and a distinctive dashboard finished with leather and turned aluminium.
The Bentley Continental GT is a big car, and it shows in corners. Four-wheel drive means there’s lots of grip, but the W12 Continental GT rolls a bit in bends – and always feel more at home as a long-distance cruiser than anywhere near a racetrack. As for the new V8 S, it provides the best blend of handling (superb for such a big car), but still with the ability to waft along.
In terms of reall world performance, the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 in S trim is as fast as the more expensive W12, offering huge acceleration and fantastic mid-range overtaking pace. However, the GT Speed is the fastest Bentley yet, boasting a top speed of 206mph (or 203mph for the convertible), along with suspension that's lowered by 10mm and around 45 per cent stiffer. As a result the handling is remarkably precise for a 2.3-tonne car.
It's the V8 that delivers a sportier soundtrack, too. While the W12's booming full throttle exhaust note is imposing, it never sounds particularly exciting for such an outrageously-powerful car.
The Continental GT is new, but it uses tried and tested parts from the VW Group. The 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 is all-new, but is going to be used in top-of-the-range cars from Audi and Porsche, too, so has been tested thoroughly before its introduction. The W12 engine is hand-built by highly skilled workers at the factory in Crewe, which also supplies the engine to the rest of the VW Group. As a result, Bentley produces more 12-cylinder engines than any other manufacturer in the world, and is a centre of excellent for 12-cylinder engine for the entire VW Group. For peace of mind, it also offers a unlimited mileage, three-year warranty, while pre-paid servicing packs are available through dealers.
There’s plenty of room for two up front in the Continental GT, but those in the back seats will find there’s not much legroom - which is a surprise considering how big the Conti GT is on the outside. The low roofline and small rear windows don’t help matters, either. At least the 358-litre boot is well-shaped. And while the rear bench doesn’t fold flat, few people will buy a Conti for its practicality.
You don’t buy a Bentley if you’re worried about running costs. Even so, we’d still choose the V8 S version over the W12. Cylinder-deactivation technology and an eight-speed gearbox helps it return 26.9mpg - compared to 19.5mpg for the W12 - but it’s pretty much as quick as the bigger-engined models and it still has an incredible 192mph top speed, so in everyday driving you’re not missing out in the way of performance.