What's the used Bentley Continental GT coupe like?
You might think that a large and luxurious grand touring coupé made by Bentley would be an instant winner, but when the first version of the Continental GT was launched in 2003 there were some – ourselves included – who weren’t so sure about it. Doubts about its weight, performance, handling and ride, not to mention its expense, dampened our enthusiasm.
Most of these issues were addressed in 2011, when this lighter and rejuvenated model first appeared. Chief among the changes was the introduction of a 4.0-litre V8 engine to accompany the massive 6.0-litre W12. This impressive unit makes the Continental lighter, more agile and more economical while losing little in terms of performance or refinement.
Both cars offer an unimpeachable ability to waft around town or up motorways in near-silence, with just a background woosh from road and wind noise to remind you that you’re moving.
Any car that weighs so much yet can still sprint to 60mph in 4.6sec and to 100mph in 10.9sec is not exactly short of a spot of shove. Bentley’s W12 engine produces 582bhp from 5998cc in the Continental GT. Just as enticing is the prospect of 516lb ft of torque. According to the manufacturer's figures, the 500bhp V8 can urge the Continental from 0-62mph in 4.8sec and on to a top speed of 188mph.
The luxurious interior offers just about every electrical option you’d want (never mind need). Everything is trimmed in polished wood and soft leather, and the quality of the fixtures and fittings is exemplary. You'll get soft embroidered leathers, attractive walnut veneers, handmade aluminium fascia inserts and chrome-bezelled control dials which all contributed to a superbly rich and luxurious ‘old English’ cabin ambience that few car makers can pull off.
Space is great up front, with electrical seat and wheel adjustment, and two small adults or children will be happy in the rear for short distances.
So, the Continental is a big and classy grand tourer that, we think, offers enough to justify its price differential over a number of other wonderful cars in this class. Of course, its running costs are huge, but its sense of occasion is nearly unmatched.
Advice for buyers
What should I look for in a used Bentley Continental GT coupe?
Check the expensive-to-repair bodywork for any scuffs picked up in city-centre car parks and look at the alloy wheels for any signs of kerb damage. The Conti is loaded with electrical goodies, so make sure they all work as they should.
What are the most common problems with a used Bentley Continental GT coupe?
Work on the engine is expensive because, for major jobs, the engine has to come out. Luckily, reported problems are few. The ZF transmission is reliable, too. Some issues have been reported involving electrical failures caused by problems with the wiring looms.
Is a used Bentley Continental GT coupe reliable?
Data is difficult to compile on the Conti despite the car having been around for many years. On the whole, owners report that this solidly constructed car has a good reputation for reliability. The only reported problems lie in the actual cost of the parts, rather than the issue of breaking down. Bentley as a brand has a more mixed reputation, although recent surveys seem to have shown an improvement in this respect.
Bentley as a brand didn't feature in our most recent What Car? Reliability Survey.
What used Bentley Continental GT coupe will I get for my budget?
Entry to the exclusive Bentley club starts at around £32,000 to £35,000 for one of the post-2011 cars. This will buy you an example with an average mileage for the year and a service history – without which we do not recommend buying – from an independent or franchised dealer. Up the dosh to between £35,000 and £50,000 and you’ll be looking at 2012-2015 cars, while £50,000-£60,000 should net you a 2016-2018 car in pristine condition.
How much does it cost to run a Bentley Continental GT coupe?
Quite a lot is the answer to that. The 4.0 V8 model has a claimed average fuel consumption of 26.7mpg, according to the NEDC fuel tests, while the 6.0 W12 claims 23.2mpg in some versions and 19.9mpg in others. In real-world driving, expect to see even lower figures.
Road tax will be correspondingly high, whether registered before the April 2017 tax changes or not. Those registered after will pay the flat rate currently £180 a year. The luxury car tax is £390 a year and is payable from years two to six only.
Insurance groups are all super-high, too, so don’t expect running a Conti to be in any way cheap.
Servicing is best done at a Bentley specialist and, once again, this won’t be cheap. You can choose a used service plan, with prices starting at £1710 for two services (comprising one major and one minor), payable up front or by direct debit.
Which used Bentley Continental GT coupe should I buy?
As far as we’re concerned, unless you’re particularly fascinated by the engineering layout of the 6.0-litre W12 model, there is absolutely no reason to look beyond the V8, particularly given the extra economy it offers.
Bentley’s 4.0 V8 is borrowed from the Volkswagen Group, but it’s a corker and makes far more sense. It pulls very hard from low revs and loves to be pushed. It’s not exactly frugal, but next to the W12 it looks like an economical choice. You can also have an extra 20bhp in the V8 S version.
There’s no doubt that Bentley’s W12 engine makes a statement, but you’ll need incredibly deep pockets to keep it on the road. It’s also a fair bit heavier than the V8, so it doesn’t handle as well. We prefer the smaller engine.
There are varying trim levels available new and used, but the different 20in wheels, more power, lowered suspension, bigger brakes and sports exhaust all work to make the S the best version of the Continental to drive and it's also the best-sounding.
Our favourite Bentley Continental GT Coupé 4.0 V8 S
What alternatives should I consider to a used Bentley Continental GT coupe?
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupé offers astonishing performance for such a heavy and luxurious car, as well as plenty of interior space and lots of opulent luxury. Running costs are high, but its ability to help passengers waft along the road in comfort is sublime.
The Aston Martin DB11 with the V8 engine is lighter than the V12 version, resulting in sharper handling and a much sportier drive. It’s more agile than the Conti, but it doesn’t offer as much room in the front and rear, and its boot space is tighter too.