When first-generation Bentley Continental GT was introduced back in 2003, its launch marked a significant milestone for the British carmaker – it was the first model to be conceived under its new owner, Volkswagen AG. The two-seater grand tourer was also the brand’s first mass-produced car that brought the entry point to this luxury brand to more affordable levels.
The first- and second-generation luxury grand tourer enjoyed flying success, with the company subsequently released performance-focused variants and limited editions for the Continental GT. Fast forward to the present day, the third-generation Continental GT is set to continue Bentley’s legacy.
Like the second-generation Continental GT, the designers at Bentley again went for an evolutionary design to ensure that the new car is unmistakeably Bentley. But the devil is in the details.
Underpinning the new Continental GT is an all-new Porsche-developed MSB (Modularen Standardantrieb Baukasten) platform for full-sized luxury vehicles just like the Porsche Panamera. It helps the new car shed 80 kgs while increase chassis rigidity compared to the outgoing model.
Keen eyed readers will notice that the new car is more muscular than the model it replaces. What Bentley has done is by shifting the front wheels 135 mm further forward, allowing the designers to create a lower and longer bonnet profile. Its new sculpture and lines were derived from the EXP 10 Speed 6 concept car.
Forward illumination is of Matrix LED units but the headlamps were inspired from diamonds; fine sharp transparent internal surfaces were arranged meticulously to disperse light similarly to an illuminated gem resulting in a three-dimensional depth of the optics. The taillights also feature the same cut-crystal effect but the housings are now oval in shape to mirror the tail pipes silhouette. Intricate details like these is what separates Bentley from its sister companies.
Customers can have their new Continental GT to be fitted with 21-inch alloy wheels, with two distinct styles as standard or pay a premium to upsize to 22-inch lightweight forged alloy. Hand-polish finish is another item on the bill. A total of 17 exterior paint choices are available but esteemed customers can always knock on Mulliner’s door to tailor to their unique colour palette.
Anyone who has seen, touch, let alone experienced a Bentley will know that the guys at Crewe makes one of the finest interior on the planet. The new Continental GT dials it up to 11.
For starters, the controls now feature new materials that promises softer and more refined haptic feel, elevating the premium feel of the already luxurious interior. The bezels and rotary knobs now comes in with a new knurling design that not only gives off refined visual impact but provides even more precise technical feel during operation.
Diamond quilting is so last decade, have a look at Bentley’s new ‘Diamond in Diamond’ quilt pattern. It took Bentley 18 months to develop this embroidery, using a total of 712 stitches to create a floating diamond shape surface that are, to quote Bentley “extraordinarily soft to the touch”. Now that’s taking things to the next level.
In-car technology is also taken to the next level with an industry-first Bentley Rotating Display. When the 12.3-inch retina MMI display is not in use, the blank cover creates an uninterrupted flow across the dashboard. Upon start up, the elegantly designed MMI display rotates from the dashboard and is instantly ready to use. The third side of the Bentley Rotating Display consists of three analogue dials displaying outside temperature, a compass and chronometer.
On top of the high-tech rotating display, the instrument cluster is now fully digital with three-dimensional graphics to replicate the classic Bentley analogue dials. A choice of three audio systems is offered in the new Continental GT – a standard 650-watts 10-speakers set up, 1,500-watts 16-speaker Bang & Oufsen system and a 2,200-watts 18-speaker system.
Complementing the high-quality audio systems are new laminated acoustic glass on the windscreen and side windows that reduces exterior noise by nine-decibels versus the outgoing model.
Underneath the hood of the all-new Continental GT is a revised 6.0-litre twin-turbocharged W12 engine that now outputs 626 hp and 900 Nm of torque. A new eight-speed double clutch transmission replaces the old ZF torque converter unit. Drive is sent to all-four wheels as before but the new Active all-wheel drive system can now infinitely vary the torque split between the front and rear axles depending on the driving situation.
With Launch Control activated, the W12 powered grand tourer will sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.7 seconds and will continue to accelerate to the acclaimed 333 km/h top speed. All this performance and yet Bentley claims the new Continental GT sips only 12.2 litres per 100 km.
Bentley has also revised the air suspension to balance the increased performance. In its softest setting, the air chambers have 60 percent more air volume than the previous model, giving the engineers a wider scope for suspension tuning.
Two distinct upgrade packs are available immediately from launch – a City Specification that adds powered boot, pedestrian warning, traffic-sign recognition and city braking systems and a top-view camera while the Touring Specification equips the car with adaptive cruise control with traffic-jam assist, active lane assist, heads-up display, night vision with infrared camera, and pre-sense braking.
As with all Bentleys, the Continental GT can also be handed over to Mulliner, Bentley’s personal commissioning division, to customise their Bentley’s to their hearts content.