Bentley, alongside Rolls Royce, has represented the British Isles since time immemorial – or so it seems. Spearheads of opulence and fine taste, they herald a bequest unsurpassed by any other automobile manufacturer on the globe, being chosen not only by prosperous connoisseurs, but also by monarchs and heads of states.
Situated on a privileged position, Bentley is a marque that exudes style and elegance, but also hides, under its subtly muscular lines, prowess and raw power. The Continental, one of the most athletic examples in its stable, has proven to be a more than satisfactory foray into the world of motoring, as it was met with unprecedented success.
Currently, Bentley Motors’ Continental range includes five models: the GT, GT Speed, GT V8 in both coupe and convertible configuration, the GT V8S and the performance oriented GT3-R. Both V8 and W12 propulsion units are available, according to the variant in question.
A Grand Tourer at heart, the Bentley Continental GT features a 2+2 seating configuration, in either a coupe or convertible form. Visually, few cars are able to match its looks.
The frontal side is characterized by an ample stainless steel grille, encased into the massive bonnet that protrudes slightly into the front bumper. Flanking it are two pairs of oval headlamps, which bear resemblance to those on the Mulsanne; yet, unlike those fitted on the larger limousine, the units mounted on the fascia of the GT are back swept and have a more dramatic design: of jewels rather than utilitarian luminescence sources. A bumper moulded in the shape of a grin, with metallic mesh covering the massive air intakes sits low to the ground, conveying an imposing look.
The side profile of the coupe is almost identical to that of the convertible, save for the top, which is fabricated from cloth rather than aluminium, in the latter case. Huge wheel arches shelter 20 inch alloy wheels as standard, while 21 inch rims come as an option. The entire car’s lines flow towards the rear, as if the vehicles was moulded by water in a wind tunnel. The only contrasting feature is represented by the razor sharp lines of the rear panels, which surge rearwards to form a profiled shoulder line, as the cabin progressively shrinks its width.
Following the same path as on the sides, the lines of the roof converge in creating the slanted rear window; as they eyes look further, the same creases create a sculpted boot lid, with a small, almost unnoticeable spoiler. Lower still, a horizontally placed duo of exhausts, coated in chrome, round off the muscular and athletic form of the Bentley Continental GT.
The GT3-R variant was introduced in 2014. Based on the GT V8S, only 300 examples are to be produced. Technical specifications include a 580 horsepower V8 engine, capable of at least 205 miles per hour and an acceleration of 0-60 in 3.6 seconds. Moreover, the rear seats were removed in an effort to save weight, while various body parts, such as the mirror casings, a fixed boot lid spoiler, hood ventilations and rear air diffuser, among others, were fabricated from carbon fiber. Other bespoke characteristics were the special white tone of paint with contrasting green tint tracing the character lines on the sides, a unique interior, finished in carbon fiber, stitched leather upholstery and Alcantara and a titanium exhaust system.
Bentley Continental GT – 5 Point Review
The Continental range of vehicles, with even the base GT leading the way, has served as a proof that a car is able to carry its passengers in style, in addition to offering them staggering performance capabilities. Surpassing rivals such as Aston Martin or Jaguar, the Bentley is among the few vehicles to blend supercar performance with an opulent cabin, forsaking the idea that a performance automobile interior should be a barren land. Thus, the moment you sneak a peek through the window (you needn’t even enter) it is obvious that this is no ordinary car.
Reminiscent of the previous version, the interior exudes an upscale feel, as the fine, stitched leather seats gently cares your figure as you are seated behind the wheel. Large dimension dials, with a soothing backlight, are outlined with subtle chrome touches. Interior trims range from cold aluminium to eucalyptus and from carbon fiber to Burr walnut. Should you have a deep enough pocket, someone whispers, anything is possible.
Although not having a supermodel waistline, as it weights over two tons, the Conti is a surprisingly agile automobile. Even the basic GT, with its 500 horsepower engine, is capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 in under 4.6 seconds, while the GT3-R’s time is reduced by an entire second! Monumental!
Insofar as the driving experience is concerned, the ride is smooth, allowing for long drives without the fear that you’ll end up on a gurney after you get out. Admittedly, it’s not as smooth as in a purpose built limousine, but after all, the Conti is marketed as performance oriented rather than “just” a luxury auto. Little body roll is felt in the corners, but there is also a sport setting which allows you to stiffen the springs, should you need to pull 1G or so on a race track.
A Grand Tourer is not a track day machine – although many tend to disagree – and in order to enjoy it properly, we’d advise you to skip the odd drag race or maximum speed run and drive it like a gentleman – or a gentlewoman, since women can command vehicles just as well as men, even though the spotlight tends to fall, unfortunately, on the first category.
Since the brand is owned by the giant Volkswagen Group –and it shares the V8 engine with Audi, the Continental is as fault proof as any other German automobile. A recipe for success, British design and German engineering make a fitting pair. Few complaints were ever received and Bentley has addressed them in a manner worthy of praise, so you no longer have to worry about remaining stranded on some god forsaken place in the mountains, as the car is virtually flawless.
The cheapest Continental, the 6.0 litre W12 coupe, costs no less than £135,760 and offers a 575 horsepower engine, with a mixed cycle fuel economy of 17.1 mpg.
The most powerful, the GT Speed, is also powered by a W12 engine, but unlike the base model, the power output increases to 625bhp, while the top speed increases from 198 mph to 205. Surprisingly, it’s also slightly more efficient, as 19.50mpg is the official figure released by the manufacturer. The price tag, however, climbs to £156,700.
Should the aura of the mighty W12 not be the prime reason for purchasing the automobile, the 4.0 litre V8 variant offers the best fuel economy: 26.70mpg, mixed cycle. Slightly less powerful than its brothers with a heftier power plant, the V8 still produces 507 horsepower. Improvements over the ageing W12 include cylinder deactivation, low resistance tires and a more efficient management of the electrical systems fitted inside the vehicle. In addition, an eight speed automatic gearbox, sourced from ZF brings faster, more seamless gear changes. The starting price for a V8 Conti coupe is £136,500.
Marketed as a 2+2 vehicle, the Continental is not exactly mirroring the advertising in real life. In fact, the two seats in the back, although offering more room than in the pre-2011 generation, still do not allow for two adults to reside comfortably for long periods of time. The sloping roofline will pose a problem for tall people, while in the convertible, the top will inadvertently lead to a head ducking dance, as the cloth soft top is apparently trying to chop your head off. In the front, things are better, as the larger seats allow for more ample room.
The boot measures 370 litres – not a champion hauler by any means, but for occasional luggage it will be able to hold its own in front of the competition. Should you opt for the convertible, be warned that the area shrinks to 235 litres, due to the roof taking away precious space. In lieu of anything else, you are welcome to use the rear seats.
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