Class Act: The Bentley Continental GT

2011 Bentley Continental GT

Don’t be misled by the name: Bentley’s roots may go back a long way but this doesn’t stop its output from being as up-to-date as any rival’s. Take the Bentley Continental GT, for example. Resplendently named after its illustrious predecessors, it nevertheless doesn’t rest on its ancestors’…or anyone else’s…laurels.

What does the Continental GT boast, you ask? The answer is more about what it doesn’t boast, as the list would be far shorter. But we can consider some of the many highlights, such as aluminium Super forming for the front wings and bootlid, which gives a sculpted body with sharper swage lines. The process heats the aluminium panels to nearly 500 degrees Celsius before shaping them using air pressure. Using a single sheet of aluminium means no seams or welding are required. The well-established four-headlamp configuration houses LED daytime running lights. And the standard wheel size is 20 inches; 21-inchers are optional so nobody can accuse Bentley of not following modern trends.

The mixture of modernity and proven factors continues inside the Bentley Continental GT. Premium hide clads the bold, sweeping dash, while distinctive ‘cobra’-design seats offer comfort and increased rear cabin space. Modern? No, just well-proven but the inclusion of a new, 30Gb touchscreen infotainment system adds advanced satellite navigation with dynamic route guidance, seven-digit postcode entry and Google Map compatibility (in specific markets). The car’s audio systems feature the latest wide frequency balance mode radiator speakers, driven via a revolutionary Dirac Dimensions™ DSP for exceptional sound reproduction.

The Bentley Continental GT looks great and is extremely comfortable but has it performance to match? Let’s see. Currently, buyers receive the 6-litre W12 ‘FlexFuel’ engine, producing 567bhp and 516lb/ft torque. These figures translate to 0 to 60mph in 4.4 seconds, 0 to 100mph in 10.2 seconds and a top speed of 198mph. Not enough for you? You’ll have to wait for the new, high-output, high efficiency V8 ‘FlexFuel’ engine then…this is due for release late next year.

Meanwhile, the Continental GT features a ZF 6HP28 transmission with a ‘Quickshift’ system that cuts shift times by 50% and enables double downshifts. And it can put the power down on the tarmac, where it belongs, A new, 40:60 rear-biased torque split for the all-wheel drive system reduces understeer when powering out of bends and provides for better modulation of line and attitude by ‘throttle steering’. Increased front and rear track improves grip and stability, while the Advanced ESC system fully exploits the potential of the more powerful W12 engine and improved chassis.

There’s far more to learn about this stylish 2+2 coupe but one burning question remains…is it thirsty? I suppose that, if paying around £126,500 (roughly average web price) for a car, you needn’t ask but here are the factory’s figures…

FUEL CONSUMPTION (EU Cycle) *
Urban 11.1 mpg (25.4 litres/100km)
Extra Urban 24.9 mpg (11.4 litres/100km)
Combined 17.1 mpg (16.5 litres/100km)
CO2 emissions 384 g/km
• Fuel consumption figures are provisional and subject to Type Approval.

We can leave the last word to Bentley Chairman and Chief Executive, Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen, who says, “The new Continental GT is an automotive work of art, with superb craftsmanship and elegant, contemporary design. It drives like a supercar, but without the usual sacrifices in ride or practicality. It is a car that you can enjoy every moment of every day.”


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