Bentley’s six-litre turbocharged 12-cylinder four-seat coupe has finally gone under the knife, and is taught, trimmed and even more terrific as a result. But such surgery doesn’t come cheap, and neither does the Continental GT.
Bentley Continental GT Overview
The Continental GT was the first car Bentley produced after its break from Rolls Royce and subsequent marriage to the Volkswagen Group. And such was its appeal, that the GT has outsold any other car Bentley Motors has ever made - by 30 per cent. And that’s saying a lot, for the Bentley brand is nearly 90 years old.
The GT coupe itself is long in the tooth, lasting almost eight years without a significant update. But with such a perfect formula, Bentley had to be very careful when updating its iconic coupe.
Bentley Continental GT Engine
Under the sloping bonnet the W12 engine, its four rows of pistons framed like two giant iron-pumping arms, now produces 11kw more power at 423kW, cutting down the 0-100km/h sprint to just 4.6 seconds.
A giddy 50Nm bump now proffers 700Nm from just 1700rpm thanks to the twin-turbocharged push, and has more than enough grunt to haul its 2330kg heft.
However, the engine still does not have fuel injection, which would cut down its greedy fuel slurping quite significantly (claimed at 16.5/100km on premium fuel). Not that the Bentley buyer cares for penny-pinching at the pump…
Bentley Continental GT The Interior
The big tech update inside is a new touchscreen multimedia interface and voice-activated phone connection, but it’s obvious Audi/VW influence and consequent multitude of buttons can distract the driver from the task at hand. And second row passengers are still a mere afterthought in a 2+2, and despite an extra 5cm of legroom it’s uncomfortable for adults in the rear buckets, and long four-up road trips are still a no-can-do in coupe form (that’s what the four-door GT Flying Spur is for).
However, for the driver and front-seat passenger, the walnut, leather and cashmere are cosseting and divine (the only car to do this often gaudy trim well), and hark back on a time when just four horses got the wealthy to their destination with haste.
Bentley Continental GT Exterior & Styling
It’s a massive car: even more so now, with an increased track and width measuring almost two metres, and over five metres in length.
The shoulders and beltline have been redesigned to edge out higher and be more pronounced, for a hunched, muscular stance, while the front and rear bumpers are squared off and the headlights better integrated into the front fascia.
Where the superseded car looked stately, this redesign has given the GT a more aggressive appearance; more performance oriented, and not quite so subtle.
Bentley Continental GT On The Road
The suspension has been retuned to handle a major shake-up in the all-wheel-drive system, with its former 50/50 drive now biased to the rear at 40:60, alleviating some of the nose-heavy push and offering more dynamic handling particularly entering a corner.
The chassis is solid and adjustable, and exiting a corner can be either a smooth affair, or a heavy-handed thump that kicks the tail out for a millisecond before the car reins itself back into line.
With full torque from 1700rpm, it can cruise effortlessly, or fire up and leave would-be rivals behind at the lights – not that one would do such a thing in polite society… Yeah, right.
Bentley Continental GT Challenges
Well, the price is out of reach of most of us, and couples with kids won’t find them amused in the squishy rear seats with the high beltline and small windows. But surely, the kids would travel with the nanny in the Range Rover… In this arena, the biggest challenge is snaring that rare buyer with enough cash to drop on an uber-coupe.
Bentley Continental GT Verdict
While the 2011 GT is only a half-step ahead of the old car in performance, looks, and technology, it remains a wonderful enigma: a high-class hoon-mobile, a stately silhouette with the bark of a junkyard dog. With a stunning race pedigree and the backing of VW, Bentley will continue to build on its GT and variants, while making only subtle changes to keep the constabulary satisfied.
Bentley Continental GT Competition
The Mercedes-Benz CL65, and the upcoming BMW M6 and Audi S7 are obvious competitors for the high-end coupe dollar.
While we wait for the M6 and S7 to hit, the CL65 is on order for a princely sum of $519,250. This gets you a four-seat coupe with a 12-cylinder twin-turbo powerplant, like the GT, but this one develops 463kW and an electronically-limited 1000Nm of torque. But the power comes at a price premium.
Bentley Continental GT Specs as Tested
Engine: 6.0-litre twin-turbocharged 12-cylinder
Power/torque: 423kW at 6000rpm and 700Nm at 1700rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Driven wheels: All-wheel drive