There is a key point in the Bentley timeline that we can call BC: Before Continental. The first Conti GT was so vital, not just for sales but also in setting a pattern and tone for the entire brand, that it could easily be argued that without the two-door coupe, Bentley might as well not be with us today. The most successful luxury car of modern times? Most likely.
And now in its second generation, it remains the focal point of the entire brand, embodying what a Bentley is all about, while the Bentayga SUV makes big bucks elsewhere in the range. It’s a beautiful thing, the new Conti GT, at least in profile, where the front wheels have been moved forward to improve weight distribution and position the engine lower and further back in the chassis.
In fact, 55% of the weight still rests on these front wheels, but there is less than before: the bodywork alone is 80kg lighter, meaning the new Conti GT weighs “only” 2244kg. But Bentley has made no secret of the fact that the high curb weight actually helps deliver the stability and drive that characterize the way their cars drive. These are knowingly heavy things.
I guess there is technology available to help…
The Bentayga’s powerful 48v electrical system is used, among other things, to manage the suspension, with actuators on the front and rear stabilizer bars to combat body roll. The established 40:60 power split is now fully variable, effectively sending 100% of torque to the rear wheels as often as possible for the benefit of fuel efficiency and emissions.
You have the choice between two engines. The cheapest is the V8, a 4.0-liter twin-turbo that offers up to 550 hp, a 0-100 km/h time of 4.0 seconds and a top speed of 198 mph. Another Big Eleven upgrades it to the big 6.0-liter W12 engine. Basically two V6s on a common crankshaft, it’s inherited from the old Conti but modified enough for Bentley to declare it “the world’s most advanced 12-cylinder engine.”
It boasts a cylinder cut-off under light loads, while producing 626 hp and an impressive 664 lb-ft of torque from just 1,350 rpm, holding it up to 4,500 rpm. Performance is better: 0-62 mph takes 3.7 seconds and its top speed is 207 mph. Both versions drive all four wheels through an eight-speed gearbox and, if you fancy going hard, through a launch control system.
I want to be rude.
Then you’ll probably have to stretch your budget for another upgrade, over £200,000 and into the arms of the Continental GT Speed. This pattern existed in Conti’s previous life and served, unsurprisingly, a bit more vitality. Only now has Bentley given it a character of its own. The addition of four-wheel steering, a new electronic limited-slip differential, and much more rear torque for the AWD system make it the sportiest and supposedly slipperiest GT yet. It gets an output of 650 hp from the W12 engine.
Returning to the base of the range, standard specifications include full Matrix LED lights, 12.3” center touch screen, WiFi, head-up display, night vision, 650W stereo and 21-inch wheels. Pricing starts at around £150,000, putting you in direct competition with the Aston Martin DB11 and Porsche 911 Turbo, or the new kid on the block Ferrari Roma if you really push the yacht.
Because you won’t be spending £150,000. He’ll spend a lot more, getting the stitching to match his shoes, the wood to match his third home office, and more. This is a car made for custom processing. We know. We did this for our long term test car…
What’s the verdict?
Bentley gave its customers what they were asking for: a more athletic, sportier, faster and more capable Continental GT. In the areas that obviously matter most to owners (performance and handling), it’s day and night better than before. The 48v electronics, longer wheelbase and air suspension brought sharpness to the dynamics and allowed the car to cope admirably with the huge increase in straight-line performance.
Comfort and relaxation may have decreased by five percent, but vibrancy has increased by 50 percent. And, above all, this capacity and this behavior are very well suited to the Bentley Continental GT. It has a dozen (or more) rivals in the strangely busy £150-200k coupe sector. But none of them gobble up distance with the charming swagger of a Bentley. Even the full-stepping GT Speed.
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Source : topgear.com
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