Bentley Continental GT

December 2010

picture of car from the front

Familiar nose hides a multitude of changes

Ratings

Overall Rating 8Overall rating

Value for money Rating 6Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 2Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 6Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 7Controls and display

Comfort Rating 8Comfort

Security Rating 8Car security

Safety Rating 8Car safety


Likes

  • Gutsy and appealing W12 engine
  • Subtle but very effective exterior changes
  • High quality interior is a pleasure to use
  • E85 option is useful and unusual

Gripes

  • Rear room is still snug rather than generous
  • Looks may not suit all tastes
  • Gearbox is effective but manual paddles awkward to use
  • Running costs likely to be very high

The original Continental GT represents the first step in a new era for Bentley, it being the initial product to come from the company under its VW Group stewardship. The success of it and the numerous follow-up variants has resulted in a substantially-revised version some seven years on from the original, with the intention of keeping it on the wish-lists of the well-heeled.

At first glance the Continental GT might not seem like a new model at all. Understandably Bentley has chosen to implement modest visual changes, although many of the exterior panels are new. A new manufacturing process for the Continental GT has allowed sharper radii on the body's curves, and the result is a car that looks familiar but sharper and tauter. The modest changes also help to maintain residual values on older models.

Mechanically the Continental GT is also broadly similar to the outgoing model, retaining the four-wheel drive transmission to handle the high-output 6.0-litre W12 with twin turbochargers. Significant revisions include a higher output, an ability run on an E85 ethanol as well as petrol plus a revised transmission that offers quicker shifts. For the first time Bentley is planning to offer a smaller capacity V8 engine with increased efficiency.

Elsewhere the four-wheel drive system is switched to a 40:60 front/rear torque split which is designed to counter understeer that is common with powerful four-wheel drive cars. A wider track both front and rear ensures greater stability too, and the electronic stability programme has been adjusted to allow greater freedom for the driver.

Inside the Continental GT is also substantially revised whilst retaining the hand-finished appearance which is such a large part of the car's appeal. The updated dashboard is more attractive and easier to read and there are new seats that claim to offer increased support as well as more rear legroom. An updated range of infotainment systems also include a very high specification Naim system for high levels of sound quality.

Our verdict on the Bentley Continental GT

The new Continental GT demonstrates a careful and considered revision of the original car, maintaining its strengths while attending to its weaknesses. It remains an engaging mix of luxury, performance and comfort quite unlike any of its rivals. Although not the last word in dynamism, it is certainly the most usable car in this price bracket.

Costs
Costs rating 2

Running costs for the GT will inevitably be high, thanks to the thirst of the 6.0-litre engine, high insurance costs and the price of servicing. Its high carbon emissions will also put it in the highest bracket for excise duty.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 6

For a car of its size, the GT is relatively inefficient in its use of space. The cabin is cosy rather than spacious, although there is no shortage of room for front seat passengers. There are a handful of storage spaces in the cabin and the boot is usefully large.

picture of car from the rear

Bootlid is one panel created through advanced 'superforming' process

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 7

A revised layout gives the Continental GT a cabin that is easy to understand and a pleasure to use. A new touchscreen system handles many of the major functions leaving a less-cluttered facia, while the quality of the controls and displays is as high as ever.

Comfort
Comfort Rating 8

As you would expect from a Bentley, comfort is high on the list of priorities and the GT delivers with near-silent driving at low speeds, a smooth ride even on massive 21-inch wheels and very supportive seats.

Car security
Security Rating 8

A desirable car such as this needs protection, and the standard alarm and immobiliser system should prove sufficient to prevent most thieves.

Car safety
Safety Rating 8

A high level of active and passive safety is present in the GT, aided by the standard four-wheel drive system. Standard ESP and ABS systems are backed up by airbags throughout the cabin and a strong safety cell.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 8

The mix of comfort and performance is what separates the GT from its key rivals. The effortless acceleration and cruising is a pleasure to use whether ambling between cities or blasting along a deserted road. Three transmission modes and the ability to alter the response of the dampers are also a big help in making the GT a car that can cope with whatever the driver throws at it.

picture of car interior

Sumptuous interior is as welcoming as ever

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 3

The GT is probably too exclusive and expensive to be a family car, although it would take a family of four without any trouble.

First car appeal
First car Rating 1

The GT is out of the range of first car buyers, and its performance and costs would be prohibitive.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 9

The quality of the GT is superb throughout and is in keeping with standard that Bentley customers would expect. Especially inside, the GT feels hand made rather than mass produced, and has the right feel for a luxury car. The image of the GT is almost as strong, taking the peerless Bentley image and making it more accessible. It is this that has caused the only potential demerit, as the GT's popularity has made something of a common occurrence in certain circles.

Accessibility
Accessibility Rating

Access to the front of the GT is simple, with a long door on each side that opens wide. The low roofline does not present a problem either. Getting into the rear is more of a challenge, but the slimmer seats help to a degree.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

As standard the GT comes with a high specification audio system, but it is the high-end Naim system that will really appeal to audiophiles. The bespoke system includes a separate amplifier and delivers exceptional sound quality.

picture of car in detail

Massive 21-inch wheels do not affect ride quality

Colours and trim

The exterior of the GT is available in a variety of shades ranging from the lurid to the conservative and, surprisingly, some of the more outlandish shades suit the sharp curves of the revised model. Inside there is a vast range of trim options from the tasteful to the dubious, all to suit the exacting standards of the owner.

Parking

Visibility isn't ideal from the driving seat, but the light steering and parking sensors make parking a straightforward process.

Spare wheel

Space saver spare wheel fitted beneath the boot floor.

 

Range information

Petrol engine options: 6.0-litre (567bhp). Fitted with six-speed automatic transmission as standard driving all four wheels. No trim levels.

 

Alternative cars

Aston Martin DBS More performance oriented, impressive image

Ferrari 612 Scaglietti Four-seat supercar, looks a matter of taste

Maserati Quattroporte Saloon has the looks to compete, great to drive

Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG Technically incredible but falls behind on style



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December 2010