Bentley has announced the First Edition to their Continental GT lineup. The Continental GT, a big, swoopy thing of a car, is about as close as Bentley ever gets to a real sports car. They say the exclusive First Edition model is the “ultimate expression of the Grand Tourer,” offering you a bunch of icing on an already heavily decorated cake. I guess that is to make it more special.
And that is precisely the problem.
One of a Kind
To my mind, Bentley and Rolls-Royce are examples of reserved British bespoke design. They are, in a certain way, like Savile Row suits or polo mallets. Something that is designed for you, and for you alone, sir or madam. If you were sickeningly rich, or a Raja, or a Sultan, or just made it into the House of Lords, you could make an appointment out at Crewe, and, in this case, Bentley would see to your personalized automotive needs. But some time ago, that changed.
And I’m not talking about the fact that Bentley is owned by Volkswagen (and Rolls-Royce is owned by BMW – ‘By the Bosch, my good man! The Bosch!!‘). No, what I’m talking about here is that although Bentley will still make you a car fully customized to your own tastes, by and large, most of their “personalized” offerings are just off the rack options to be ticked when ordering the car, like so much fine Salamanca vinyl you chose for your 1978 Cordoba. So when Bentley cranks up the prose for their First Edition Continental GT, it makes me want to crank up the Sex Pistols. Really loud.
Effectively the First Edition is a trim package reserved for the first production run of the all-new Continental GT. Bentley says this “represents the pinnacle of Bentley craftsmanship, handcrafted and designed in Great Britain,” which, even if you let them gild the lily a bit, is kind of over the top. Bentley further says the Continental GT First Edition is the “most luxurious Grand Tourer ever produced.”
The First Edition includes the unique Bentley Rotating Display that allows the driver to switch between three different fascia panels to “suit the mood of the cabin,” whatever that means. The default is a huge 12.3-inch touchscreen that can be substituted for a more classically styled instrument display with three analog dials if madam wishes. When you switch the engine off, the veneer-only face is displayed for an uninterrupted flow of wood across the dashboard.
Speaking of wood, you can choose from four to use on the dashboard: Tamo Ash, Liquid Amber, Dark Stained Madrona, and Dark Fiddleback Eucalyptus. Which I’m sure are fine, but I’d have them leave it blank on mine, and I’d have the guys at Alembic find me some real exotic wood to use. At any rate, Bentley says whichever wood you choose, it will be combined with Grand Black, which is exclusive to the First Edition. I’m assuming that is like grand piano black, but Crewe does not go into details. Bentley says all this wood adds to the overall vibe of the cabin.
Also adding to that is enhanced mood lighting and illuminated sills emblazoned with “Bentley” that are visible when opening the doors.
The seats are upholstered in a diamond-in-diamond quilt pattern, as are the door panels and rear quarter panels, with a unique contrast stitch only available on the First Edition. The First Edition also comes with the City Specification and Touring Specification as standard. This gets you to stuff like park assist, pedestrian warning and traffic sign recognition, and a Bentley 650 watt audio system. If you’re Keith Moon, you can upgrade to either the 1,500 watt Bang & Olufsen or 2,200 watt Naim stereo, which no doubt sounds great as you drive the car into the pool.
Power & Performance
All this is motivated down the Strand by a 6.0-liter, twin-turbocharged W12 TSI engine that includes the Mulliner Driving Specification as an extra goodie as part of the First Edition package. The Mulliner thing adds sporty bits and bobs like drilled alloy foot pedals, jewel-finish oil, and filler caps, and unique, 22-inch wheels that come in three finishes: bright paint, black, and hand-polished or fully polished
By the numbers, the engine creates 626 horsepower and 664 lb-ft. of torque, good enough to launch the First Edition Continental GT to 60 in 3.6 seconds. A dual-clutch, eight-speed transmission promises “faster, more efficient performance,” according to Bentley.
Taste is ultimately up to the individual, and if the Bentley First Edition Continental GT suits your flavor, then have at it. It’s your garage this thing will be sitting in, not mine.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.