New Continental GT 12

Bentley Continental GT: It’s Not A Sports Car, But It’s Still Fast

This is the all-new Bentley Continental GT. It is many things, but one thing it is definitely not, is a sports car. Yes, it is very fast. Yes, it can cover huge amounts of ground at high speed. Yes, it has NASA levels of technology packed within. But, this thing weighs more than a Sherman tank. No, Bentley doesn’t give weight figures, but I’m willing to bet this Bentley, like all Bentleys before it, tips the scales at least double what a real sports car should.

Red Carpet Treatment

No, the Bentley Continental GT will not be seen at an Autocross meet any time soon, although it might be entertaining if it were to. The Bentley Continental GT is not about stripped down, high performance at all costs. No, the Continental GT is all about getting you from, say, Madison Avenue out to your place in Montauk, and doing so quickly and quietly, while drowning you in wood and leather and luxury and high tech connectivity and more wood and leather.

Wait, what am I saying? How nouveau riche. Madison Avenue to Montauk, how gauche of me. More like from your place in Kensington up to Highclere. There’s even a convertible version of the Continental GT if you want to feel the wind through your hair on the way.

Power & Performance

Yes, the Bentley Continental GT is fat and overstuffed with riches and tech, turning it into a rolling gentlemen’s club. But, somehow, it is also capable of getting up and moving fast. This third generation of the Continental GT, which the Anglo-German company refers to as the “definitive luxury Grand Tourer,” is motivated down The Strand thanks to an enhanced version of the company’s 6.0-liter W12 TSI twin-turbocharged engine. It delivers 626 horsepower and 664 lb-ft. of Sarsen pulling torque, good enough to make this hefty ride hit 60 mph in 3.6 seconds with a top speed of 207 mph.

That W12 plant is mated to a dual-clutch, eight-speed transmission. This is the first application of that gearbox in a Bentley, and it makes for faster, more efficient gear changes.

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Designed, developed, and handbuilt in Crewe, the W12 TSI engine is one of the most advanced in Bentley’s history. The unique “W” configuration means the engine is 24 percent shorter than a traditional V12. This helps weight distribution and increases cabin space. Bentley utilizes precise engine management technology that makes 300 million software calculations per second. Photo: Bentley Motors.

Chassis Implementation

The new Continental GT has, of course, gotten a new skin to cruise around in. And although it is modern and attractive (from some angles), it is, sadly I think, rather copycat and lacking in understatement (something 99 percent of Bentley owners value highly). The Conti GT oozes along on a new, technically innovative, adaptive chassis that uses Bentley’s 48-volt Dynamic Ride System. This new system controls ride comfort and lateral roll, “cushioning passengers from excessive movement as well as making the car feel effortlessly precise,” cause, you know, your butt’s worth a couple billion dollars, so you better give it more cushion.

The exterior was created using what Bentley calls a revolutionary technology, resulting in a lightweight, yet stiff, body structure. The engine is positioned further back in the chassis to improve weight distribution, of course, and results in “driver-focused, dynamic performance.”

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Steering feel and suspension design was a focal point for Bentley. The Electric Power-Assisted Steering, with a variable rack ratio, improves feedback and isolates unwanted road disturbances for better overall handling. The air suspension uses three-chamber air springs which gives the Continental GT 60 percent more air volume in the softest setting than the previous model. Photo: Bentley Motors.

Interior Finishes

The new Bentley Continental GT is a four seater. No plebeian bench seat in the back. Oh no. None of that for the Bentley buyer, thank you very much. And the new Conti has improved luggage capacity for, get this, “genuine real-world usability.” Gee, I wonder how many cinder blocks I could haul back from the hardware store in the thing? I’ll ask for a loaner from Bentley and let you know how that “genuine real-world usability” works out.

The interior, which Bentley redundantly calls a “luxurious cabin,” is saturated in features and details that quietly scream: “look at how much money you just spent!” There’s a new “diamond in diamond” leather design which one-ups that now-old diamond stitch pattern that Bentley popularized a short while back. Your choice of off the rack interior colors come from the “extensive portfolio of 15 colors across hides and carpets.”

Seriously, the whole 4,000 word Bentley press release uses terms like that continually. The more I read, the more I find myself starting to agree with Cecil Rhodes and what should have been done with The Cape Colony.

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The Bentley Continental GT offers a Bang & Olufsen 1,500 watt, 16-speaker system with illuminated speaker grilles. It benefits from the first automotive application of the BeoSonic system – a new way for tone setting with a one-touch user interface. Photo: Bentley Motors.

Digital Displays

But, as Olde English as the new Continental GT is, it also has lots of that high tech stuff nestled within. There is an advanced, fully digital, driver-focused instrument panel and this thing they call the “Bentley Rotating Display.” The Bentley Rotating Display features a 12.3-inch touchscreen stored in a three-sided unit and, as the name implies, revolves the veneer to reveal the touchscreen and analogue dials.

Laundry Lists

Bentley goes on, at Silmarillion-like length about every last detail of the new Continental GT, but most of it is, again, very Silmarillion-like, and rather uninteresting; how they choose the carpets, the hand-finished twisted polished wheel finish, luxurious haptic finishes, Mulliner Bespoke buttock massagers, cut-crystal effect taillights, and more . . . so much, much more. Okay, one of those is a joke, but I’ll let you figure out which one, but reading through it becomes hard to tell whether Bentley is being serious or having a laugh with this stuff.

Pricing & Availability

The Bentley Continental GT is available now for a starting MSRP of $218,400.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle formatFollow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz

Photos & Source: Bentley Motors.