Priced from £156,700 Release date March 2018
Bentley asks quite a lot of its Continental GT; the four-seat coupé has be a luxury car and yet also a sports car with 200mph performance. It’s Bentley’s take on, say, the Aston Martin DB11 or Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupé.
It’s a job the model has performed reasonably well over the years, but one which – spoiler alert – this latest model performs even better. Albeit with a caveat: at the time of writing, it’s not yet finished. We’ve driven cars that are narrowly pre-production specification. The hardware is all present and correct, but the engine and gearbox in particular still need a bit more tuning.
It's some hardware, though. The Continental GT has a 6.0-litre W12 engine in its nose, making 626bhp and driving all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox. And, to enable the car to do all of the jobs it’s supposed to, there's variable air-spring suspension with a 48v electrical system to give it active anti-roll bars, which slacken when you’re mooching to keep the ride soft and stiffen up if you’re going quicker, in order to keep better body control.
2017 Bentley Continental GT on the road
All of this hardware makes the Continental GT a really appealing car to drive. Sure, because it’s also a true luxury car, it has ended up being rather heavier than the DB11, at 2244kg, but it combines a good ride quality with excellent body control.
That it’s based on the same architecture as the Porsche Panamera means that the weight distribution is the sportiest it has ever been in a Continental GT, with only around 55% of the heft over the front wheels. That means it’s agile – although these things are relative at 2.2 tonnes – while its steering is smooth and you can select between different drive modes, to stiffen or slacken the suspension. Standard mode is a good compromise: sporting enough if you ask, yet comfortable enough if you don’t.
Our only criticisms at the moment concern the drivetrain. Most of the time, the Continental GT's W12 engine just provides masses of shove, albeit with, perhaps, less smoothness than the V12 of the DB11, but the calibration of minor throttle inputs isn’t quite perfect yet. Neither is the refinement, around town, of the gearbox. Bentley says it’s still working on getting both right for the car’s 2018 launch.
2017 Bentley Continental GT interior
There are fewer issues with the Continental GT’s interior, even though Bentley says that things aren’t quite finished in here, either. Sure, look closely and get really pernickety and you might spot where stitching doesn’t quite line up, but it takes somebody to point it out to you. Otherwise, the Continental GT’s interior is a paragon of luxury, with acres of wood, leather and aluminium – the kind of things that contribute to the car's big kerbweight.
The Continental GT's touchscreen infotainment system is a Bentley-fronted version of a Volkswagen Group system, which is no bad thing, although to our minds, BMW’s iDrive is still the best system of all - it consists of a screen that you control with a rotary dial and physical shortcut buttons . But at least the Bentley’s is one of the best of its type and now befits a luxury vehicle.
At 4.8m long, the Continental is perhaps a little shorter than you might think – it’s shorter than the Ford Mondeo, for example – but it still manages to have roomier rear seats than the DB11, while its boot, at 358 litres, is bigger than that car’s 270-litre cargo hold, too.
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