Bentley hopes the all-new Continental GT will be crowned the most luxurious supercar in the world, and this W12-engined edition certainly comes close. The 2+2 seater impresses with its strong performance and high-quality interior, while the tweaked design provides a fresher look, without spoiling the distinctive profile. The car is still enormously thirsty and heavy, though, which is why we expect the new, even lighter V8 model to be the pick of the range.
If the Candy brothers are building your next house, and your watch was hand-made in Switzerland, the new Bentley Continental GT
ought to be on your shopping list.
It’s 65kg lighter than the car
it replaces, as well as sharper to drive and more crisply styled, and follows the idea that less
is more – particularly in terms
of design and engineering.
While 90 per cent of the
bodywork is all-new, the
styling is heavily inspired by
the previous Continental GT,
and the similarity is entirely intentional. Bosses say this is Bentley’s own Porsche 911
, so you can expect future models to offer the same silhouette, but with different evolutions of the engine and gearbox. To prove that point, a new 4.0-litre V8 arrives in this car later this year.
Used car tests
For the time being, the firm’s tried and tested 6.0-litre W12 provides the power. It drives
all four wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.
This is the first time we have tried the Continental GT in the UK. On paper, there’s no shortage of things to get excited about. With 567bhp and 700Nm of torque, the leaner, meaner newcomer will accelerate from 0-62mph in only 4.4 seconds, while top speed is a claimed 198mph. Crucially,
by reducing the kerbweight,
the firm has also improved the massive engine’s economy and reduced its emissions. Expect fuel returns of around 17mpg
and a 360g/km CO2 output.
Cutting back the weight
has not meant scaling down
on luxury, though. Our car was exquisitely trimmed inside,
with a mixture of quilted and hand-stitched leathers and a machined aluminium dash.
There are also new details, including a revised eight-inch
satellite navigation system (with Apple iPad-like touch control) and a redesigned dashboard.
The latter is marked out by its
arcing leather detailing and
piano black inserts, and was
a beautiful finishing touch
to our model. It doesn’t end there. Although prices start
from £135,760, it’s easy to
top that up. This version cost
a cool £176,435, thanks to the addition of features such as an £11,000 brake kit and a £5,200 optional sound system.
Getting going is easy. Put the key in the ignition and thumb the starter button and the engine whirrs into life. Then slot the knurled aluminium gearlever home in ‘drive’, release the brakes and plant the throttle.
When we first drove this
car, on 21-inch wheels, the
ride was very stiff, and the
steering short on feel. Thankfully, Bentley seems to have got to grips with this, and our test
model provided crisp, accurate steering and far more supple
suspension than before.
As you begin to accelerate, the bassy exhaust note and smooth responses make the Continental feel a relaxed, laid back performer. Despite the impressive thrust on offer, it never quite seems as potent as the 567bhp suggests.
However, if you have room
on the road, and can keep the throttle pinned to the carpet,
the W12’s character changes, becoming harder edged and more urgent. The turbos blow hardest as the needle sweeps towards its 6,200rpm red line.
Gearchanges, too, become faster, and as the paddleshift system fires through ratios like
a cannon, it’s easy to imagine this car exceeding its claimed
top speed and hitting 200mph.
Good news, then, that the
carbon ceramic brakes feel so powerful. The all-disc set-up
has huge stopping performance, and is fluster free. Our only
gripe is that the arrangement
is a bit noisy around town.
But this is hardly going to
be a deal breaker for Bentley
buyers, who will revel in this
car’s torque and performance,
as well as its bespoke feel.