Bentley Continental GT (2011-2018) review – engine and transmission

A great grand tourer but definitely no sports car

Evo rating
Price
from £140,300
  • Bespoke interior, plenty of performance, refinement and comfort
  • Heavy, cheaper V8 is better than W12, tech now outdated

The 6-litre twin-turbo W12 engine in the standard Continental GT produces 582bhp and 531lb ft of torque. This jumps up significantly in the Speed model, which generates 626bhp and 607b ft from the same W12 motor.

V8 models are slightly down on power, with 500bhp and 487b ft of torque in the entry-level car. They do however produce their torque lower down the rev-range, generating the maximum from just 1700rpm, compared to 2000rpm in the W12. The V8 S makes 521bhp and 502lb ft of torque.

While straight line performance differences might be largely imperceptible in real world use, the difference in character between the W12 and V8 are much more noticeable. 

The W12 is perhaps better suited to the Continental GT’s character, with a smooth and linear torque curve that ensured the car is hugely quick, but creates little drama or fuss while it goes about it.

By contrast, the V8 is much more about exhaust noise and boasts far more character. It adds to the driving experience of the GT, rather than just being a means to propel you along in luxury like the W12 is.

As for the gearbox, it’s a ZF eight speed auto found in all models. It’s responsive enough and definitely does an excellent job of shifting smoothly when moving about at lower speeds. Bentley has also revised the shift paddles for the car for its 2015 facelift, which makes changing gears yourself a lot easier.

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