Bentley Continental GT review - Engines, performance and drive

New chassis tech combined with blistering performance make the Continental GT a thrilling driver’s car

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 mean the model offers both a more comfortable and refined ride, as well as more engaging handling for enthusiastic drivers.

The W12 engine is set further back in the chassis to improve the handling balance, but the big advance is new double wishbone suspension at the front and a multi-link rear end damped by an advanced air-suspension system with an active electronic anti-roll set-up – also seen on the Bentayga. Huge 420mm front and 380mm rear brake discs – claimed to be the largest on any production car – provide stopping power.

The torque-split of the four-wheel-drive system has also been rethought for the new Conti 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. This is particularly impressive in the convertible model, with only the really worst potholes sending the structure shuddering. Given how big the void is with the roof folded down, there’s very limited shake through the chassis, and no trim rattles in the cabin.

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.

The V8 model weighs 50kg less than its W12 sibling, with much of that being removed from the engine bay. This means there's less weight over the front wheels; turn-in is noticeably keener and the Continental becomes a more entertaining proposition on a twisty road. A similarly engined Porsche Panamera still feels sportier to drive, but the Continental is still good fun. It's more than a match for a V8-engined Aston Martin DB11, too.

Engines

The W12 engine shares its configuration with the original Continental GT but is a development of the new unit first launched in the Bentayga SUV. Key features include high pressure direct injection alongside traditional port injection that allows the car to select its fuelling method to optimise efficiency, along with cylinder deactivation.

The power and torque figures are phenomenal, at 626bhp and 900Nm, which combined with the eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox (the same Porsche PDK unit in the Cayenne) and launch control will rocket the Continental GT to 60mph in an eye-watering 3.6 seconds. Top speed is an equally startling 207mph.

Bentley also offers the Continental with a 4.0-litre V8 that’s derived from the Porsche Panamera’s unit. Power sits at 542bhp, 0-62mph (in the Coupe) takes 4.0 seconds and top speed is 198mph.

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