Bentley Continental GT review – a grand tourer in every sense

The Bentley Continental GT is not just an excellent cruiser, but now one with real ability, poise and even some engagement

Evo rating
Price
from £159,100
  • Astonishing ability for such a big car; raw performance; refinement; cabin quality
  • W12 GT not as accomplished as the V8 to drive; chassis feels like it could take more power and focus

In many ways the new Bentley Continental GT is not inherently dissimilar to the model introduced in 2003 that went before it. Like before, it takes many of its underlying ingredients from the wider VW group, has a snug but useable four-seat cabin and a sense of mass and refinement that come with having an historic badge such as Bentley’s on the bootlid.

But to dismiss the new Continental GT as just an update on what was always a desirable, if slightly blunt, grand tourer would be a big mistake, because the new Conti is quite a car. Faster, more dynamic and more engaging than ever, Bentley’s success in the development and execution of the new model is a testament to the power of the VW group when there’s a clear, astute brief to work to.

This new-found ability starts with the Continental’s chassis, which was developed in conjunction with Porsche’s four-door Panamera. As a result, the new Continental GT more faithfully complies with many of the traditional GT trademarks that were missing from the previous model, with a long bonnet, sweeping roofline and muscular rear-drive proportions  (although ironically all Continental GT models are still all-wheel drive) being just the tip of an iceberg of refinements that have resulted in this all-new model.

Once again both a V8 and W12 option are available, both twin-turbocharged and both with immense performance, and again there’s a drop-top GT Convertible and Flying Spur saloon to consider if the coupe body shape isn’t your thing.

Bentley Continental GT: in detail

  • Engine, gearbox and technical highlights - The Continental GT’s available with both a W12 and V8 engine, the former bespoke to Bentley
  • Performance and 0-60 time - All Continental GT variants are immensely powerful, yet none feel overstressed. The W12’s 626bhp power figure results in the faster of the two units
  • Ride and handling - Finally the Continental GT drives like a proper GT. Impressive poise and engagement despite some truly huge weight figures 
  • MPG and running costs - If your mpg is in the 20s you’re not trying hard enough. The Continental can be persuaded to do reasonable mpg in V8 form, in context of course 
  • Interior and tech - A highlight of this generation of Continental GT. Superb build quality, sumptuous materials and a slick integration of tech make the cabin about as good as they get
  • Design - Along with its Porsche-borrowed underpinnings have come some real GT proportions. Dramatic, elegant, but not quite as flawless as the rest of the car

Prices, specs and rivals  

The new Continental range is fairly straightforward for the moment, with V8 and W12 models separated by engine choice and coupe or convertible body shapes. All Continental GTs are then able to be fitted with a selection of option packages, the most opulent being the Mulliner Driving Specification, which adds a further £12,500 to the price no matter the powertrain or body shape.

Opening the range is the V8 model, priced from £160,130, with the Convertible costing a further £7000. W12 models are then £5200 more than their equivalent eight-cylinder siblings, but all share an identical starting specification.

The Continental GT’s most obvious rival is the Aston Martin DB11. It is available with both a V8 and V12 engine, and in coupe and convertible forms, but makes do with a more limited model range, and is more a 2+2 for interior accomodation compared to the bigger Bentley. It’s also rear-wheel drive only, and while it has plenty of presence, it lacks the glamorous interior of the Bentley. The V8-powered DB11 starts at a marginally lower price point at a tad under £150,000, but extends to £174,900 for the V12-powered AMR flagship.

Ferrari’s new Roma takes the GT reins from the late GTC4 Lusso, and while it is quite a bit smaller and more focussed than the Continental GT, it does make for an interesting alternative if the use of those rear seats isn’t a priority.

As for other direct rivals, the GT class hasn’t so much diminished as diversified. Replacing the traditional two-door coupe shape are new high-priced SUVs and low-slung four-door coupes which try to pair the notion of a Gran Tourer with more versatility. Mercedes-Benz will not replace the S-class Coupe with a new generation, instead the AMG GT 4-Door partially fills that space, albeit at a lower price point.

Porsche’s own Panamera could also be deemed a more versatile GT in its higher Turbo S models, while BMW’s M8 Competition does approach the base price of a Continental GT, but takes things in a more overtly sporting direction. The Polestar 1 hybrid could also be considered a rival, so too the Porsche Taycan Turbo S if something all-electric appeals.

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