Bentley Continental GT review

Category: Coupé

The 2024 Continental GT is an impressive coupé grand tourer that finely balances performance and comfort

Bentley Continental GT front cornering
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Introduction

What Car? says...

For some, the Bentley Continental GT conjures up images of the so-called golden age of motoring but it was actually the British brand's first truly modern car.

When the Continental GT was launched in the early Noughties (shortly after Volkswagen bought the car maker), the performance coupé's technology was cutting edge. Indeed, it was such a hit with buyers that it single-handedly increased Bentley sales five-fold.

It's now several years into its third generation and is soon to be replaced by a fourth-generation model featuring an all-new 771bhp plug-in-hybrid powertrain that pairs a twin-turbo V8 engine with a 25.9kWh battery. And that leaves us with a question: should you wait for the new car to be launched in 2025 or get in before the Continental GT is electrified?

After all, the two current engines have massive character, be it the "entry-level" 4.0-litre V8, with its top speed of 198mph, or the 6.0-litre W12, which is good for 208mph.

Read on to find out how we rate the Bentley Continental GT against the best coupés – notably the Aston Martin DB12 and Ferrari Roma.

Overview

The Bentley Continental GT is a fine grand tourer that gets the balance between sports car and luxury car just about spot on. We’d take ours in "entry-level" V8 form over the flagship W12 model due to its more characterful soundtrack and sharper handling.

  • Luxurious interior
  • Huge performance
  • Enjoyable to drive
  • Range-topping W12 sounds flat
  • Not as involving as an Aston Martin DB12 or Ferrari Roma
  • Missing some safety kit
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

The Bentley Continental GT is the perfect fit for the indulgent lifestyle of the super-rich, so we'll start with its most extravagant version: the Speed, with its 650bhp 6.0-litre W12 petrol engine. 

That might sound like too much power, but it’s all efficiently put down to the ground through its four-wheel-drive system and eight-speed automatic gearbox. Speed models have a locking differential to make sure the power is evenly distributed between both rear wheels, preventing any loss of traction.

That combination makes the car feel monumentally and effortlessly fast, but it’s not the most emotive engine, even with a more tuneful exhaust fitted. It lacks the ferocious bark of the soulful V8 in the Ferrari Roma for example.

In Bentley and Comfort driving modes, the long accelerator pedal and the way the gearbox tends to shift up earlier than you might expect could lead you to think the W12 is a bit docile. In Sport mode, it responds far more eagerly, but it still feels designed to relax the driver on a long stretch of Autostrada, rather than excite them on a switchback mountain road.

For that reason, we'd choose the V8. It has four fewer cylinders and 84bhp less than the W12, but still feels face-bendingly quick in a straight line. Bentley says it will do 0-60mph in 3.9 seconds, just 0.4 seconds slower than the W12. You don’t really feel those extra tenths of a second, perhaps because you’re too busy enjoying the deep, bassy bellow coming from the quad exhaust pipes (the W12 gets oval apertures, if you’re wondering).

Bentley Continental GT image
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The V8, unlike the W12, loves to rev, giving it an alluring versatility. Sure, it can do the long-legged GT thing, but it also rewards you when you knock the gear lever over to manual mode and start to press on. Although maximum torque comes at just 2,000rpm, the engine feels at its best between 3,000 and 4,000rpm, with impressive accelerator response and very little lag. 

Clever three-chamber air suspension is standard on all Continental GTs, providing a wafty ride in its softest setting. The default Bentley driving mode strikes the best balance between comfort and body control on most roads, disguising the two-tonne bulk while taking the sting out of nearly all lumps and bumps.

Over particularly rough sections of road, sharp-edged abrasions occasionally send small shudders through the base of your seat, although that's much less noticeable in the lighter V8. When we say lighter, we’re talking about small margins. At 2,165kg, the V8 Continental weighs 108kg less than the W12.

Most of those kilos will be over the nose of the car, so during quick changes of direction, the front of the V8 is pretty keen to turn in, which helps you rotate the car mid-corner. The optional 48v active anti-roll bars (standard on Azure and Mulliner V8 and standard on Speed) keep the car flat through the bends, giving the V8 surprisingly high limits that you'll struggle to breach on a public road.

The heavier Speed still has some tricks up its sleeve, including four-wheel steering to make it feel more nimble, both during low-speed manoeuvres and quick changes of direction when you up the pace. The lighter, rear-wheel drive Aston Martin DB12 and Ferrari Roma are sharper still, but we reckon the Continental GT would be quicker point to point.

Inevitably, the wide tyres generate road noise over grainier surfaces, but both engines run at just above tick-over at motorway speeds and the double-glazed side windows block wind noise very well.

Bentley Continental GT rear cornering

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

You’d expect a Bentley to be luxurious, and the Continental GT doesn’t disappoint. Just about everything is trimmed with polished wood or soft leather and the quality of the fixtures and fittings is exemplary.

There's a wide range of electric adjustments so drivers of different shapes and sizes can get comfortable. You sit quite high up by coupé car standards, but the window line is high too, creating a cocooned feel. The dashboard is styled to echo the wings of the Bentley badge and is reasonably user-friendly, with most functions controlled through a responsive 12.3in infotainment touchscreen that has well-ordered menus.

The touchscreen set-up looks impressive, but if you’d prefer a more traditional interior, you might want to tick the "rotating display" options box. It allows the driver to press a button to choose between the main touchscreen, a set of three analogue gauges (outside air temperature, a compass and a chronometer) and a piece of veneer. The way it rotates through its three positions is very James Bond and adds to the sense of occasion. 

Mere mortals will probably find the standard 650w, 10-speaker sound system to be sufficient, but audiophiles can opt for either a 1,500W, 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen, or the range-topping 2,200W Naim for Bentley premium audio sound system. The Naim system consists of 18 speakers, two shakers and a 20-channel amplifier, and while it's eye-wateringly expensive, it also happens to be one of the best-sounding audio systems we’ve tested.

In terms of visibility, the steeply angled windscreen pillars are quite restrictive and create sizeable blind-spots at roundabouts and angled junctions. Fortunately, the City Specification safety pack is included as standard, and comes with a top-view camera, a pedestrian warning function and a reversing traffic warning system designed to stop you backing into cars approaching from the side.

Bentley Continental GT dashboard

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Space isn’t a problem if you’re sitting in the front of the Bentley Continental GT, where head, leg and shoulder room are in generous supply.

True, the news isn’t quite so good for those in the back, but it's still more practical than most coupés. Anyone under six feet tall will be fine and you can fit a large rear-facing child seat behind the front passenger seat. If you have friends who are taller than six feet, we’d recommend taking a look at a Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo or the four-door equivalent of the Continental GT, the Bentley Flying Spur.

Or, if you want limitless head room in your Continental, you could always get the convertible and drop the roof – to read about that, see our Bentley Continental GTC review.

Storage around the interior is ample rather than generous. The door pockets are long but slim, there’s a reasonable-sized glovebox and a small cubby under the central armrest.

At 358 litres, the Continental GT's boot is smaller than a Sport Turismo’s (520 litres), but bigger than that of the Aston Martin DB12 (262 litres) and Ferrari Roma (272 litres). In other words, it's a decent size. And while the boot’s saloon-like opening is not uniform in shape, the widest section is aft of the bulky opening mechanism making it a relative breeze to load in your luggage and golf clubs. 

The rear seats themselves don’t fold down but Bentley has been kind enough to incorporate a ski hatch into the middle of the rear bench.

Bentley Continental GT boot open

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Even in V8 specification, the Bentley Continental GT is far from cheap – and the day-to-day running costs of a car with eight or 12 cylinders are no less intimidating than the asking price. Considering the size of the engines, CO2 emissions are comparatively low, but it sits in the top road tax (VED) band. 

If this is a concern, you’d be better off waiting for the fourth-generation Continental GT, which is due to be released in 2025. As a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) with its 25.9kWh battery, it will have an official electric range of over 50 miles and significantly lower CO2 emissions.

That said, the tax bill will pale into insignificance when you see the insurance premiums and annual service costs, especially when you need a new set of tyres. The same is true of any of its rivals, though, including the Aston Martin DB12 and Ferrari Roma.

The Continental GT – as you'd hope at the price – comes with lots of standard equipment, including alloy wheels (20in on the V8, 21in on the W12), full matrix LED headlights, a 10-speaker, 650-watt audio system, wifi and a digital radio. In typical Bentley style, customers can also specify virtually any other luxury item they might desire.

Safety experts Euro NCAP haven’t crash-tested the Continental GT, but it has all the regular electronic stability control systems you’d expect, plus traffic-sign recognition and rear cross-traffic alert that come bundled in the City pack.

Automatic emergency braking (AEB) only comes as part of the optional Touring Specification pack, which is a bit mean considering it's standard on most small cars these days. The pack also includes adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assistance, and blind-spot monitoring.


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Bentley Continental GT dashboard clock

FAQs

  • Not until the fourth-generation Continental GT is launched in 2025 as a V8 petrol plug-in hybrid (PHEV). It will get a 25.9kWh battery giving it an official electric-only range of more than 50 miles.

  • In effect, yes. The Bentley Flying Spur is essentially a Continental GT with two extra doors.

  • If you can afford the running costs, a Continental GT would make a wonderfully luxurious and relaxing daily driver or company car.

At a glance
New car deals
Target Price from £186,300
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RRP price range £186,300 - £273,500
Number of trims (see all)7
Number of engines (see all)2
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)petrol
MPG range across all versions 20.6 - 23.3
Available doors options 2
Warranty 3 years / No mileage cap
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £13,579 / £20,032
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £27,158 / £40,064
Available colours