RE: Bentley Continental GT: Driven

RE: Bentley Continental GT: Driven

Tuesday 28th November 2017

Bentley Continental GT: Driven

The long-awaited new GT isn't quite ready for buyers yet. But it's in fine enough fettle to already have Prior impressed...



It's not finished. That's the first thing you need to know about the Bentley Continental GT. It was kinda meant to be, but, alas, is not. There are a few months to get it right and, although the hardware is all there and, as we'll see, most of this new car is present and correct, Bentley would like me and, by association, you, to know that it's not yet done.


Right. Duly noted. This is the new Continental GT, then, the replacement for a car that has defined a new era of Bentley, post that amusing affair around the turn of the century when Volkswagen thought it was buying both Rolls-Royce and Bentley but wasn't. That turned out quite well for you and me, because now we've got two very distinct brands with very different driving forces behind them.

As part of VW Group, though, you'd expect Bentley to be entwined in group platform, architecture and component sharing, and so it proves. And because these days Porsche is also part of the empire, it leads the way on this kind of thing.

So beneath the Continental's shapely new skin - we're agreed it's pleasingly shapely, aren't we? - sits the 'MSB' platform that also underpins the latest Porsche Panamera. Which is good because, in the last Conti, weight distribution was chronically biased towards the front, but is now around 55:45 front to rear. Which is not perfect, but is better.


And it's as good as you'll get when you have a 635hp, 6.0-litre W12 engine in the front, as the Continental does for now (a V8 is coming later) and an eight-speed dual-clutch, not torque converter auto, bolted to it.

Power goes to all four wheels but even here there's also rather more to get excited about than in the previous car. Most of the time it's rear wheel drive, and even in the softest of its drive modes (of which, inevitably, there are a few), no more than 38 per cent will ever go to the front. Stick it in 'Sport' and a maximum of 17 per cent will ever reach the front. Oh goody.

The rest of the architecture is a bit lighter than the Continental GT of yore, but at 2,244kg this still isn't exactly a lightweight GT car. As well as the mechanicals - the W12 is so complicated that it even has both port injection and direct injection, one being good at idle whilst the other is good at high revs - there's also rather a lot of luxury hardware.


The GT's nearest rival is, perhaps, the Aston Martin DB11, but it only takes one look inside to see their differences, and how the DB11 has a kerb weight undercutting two tonnes by about as much as the Bentley overshoots it. There're acres of leather in here, and mirror-matched wood, and shining aluminium, and although Bentley says the finish is one of the things that's not yet, er, finished, even now you have to look hard to spot any area where it isn't exquisite.

Our drive took in the roads from Crewe, around north Wales, and up to Anglesey for a quick squirt around the circuit. This isn't a track car, says Bentley - again, duly noted - but they reckon it's better than ever before in a hard corner.

You don't need to be on a circuit to know that. Out of Crewe, the Bentley reminds you that it's a pretty all consuming GT car. The ride is good, in the middle setting of three. There are adaptive dampers (natch), but the bigger deal is that there are three-chamber air springs. In 'Comfort' mode all three springs are active, in 'Bentley' (read: normal) mode, only two are active, and in 'Sport', just the one works, giving the GT double the spring rate in Sport as in Comfort. There's a 48v electrical system, too, to support active anti-roll bars, which can go from full loose, as it would be while mooching down an A-road, to full lock, as it would be mid-corner, in 0.3sec.


The upshot, then, is that the GT does have quite the duality of character. It contains its body movements well, and has a ride quality suitable for a Bentley. It has a steering set up that's good for one, too: the right speed, a middling weight, and, pleasingly, it doesn't change when you flick through the drive modes, unless you specifically want it to.

Melding all of these elements together, though - the clever chassis, the hugely complicated engine, the transmission - is what Bentley is still tweaking.

To be fair, the chassis is there, and it's good. It still doesn't have the adjustability or agility of, say, a DB11, on a circuit, but it takes about one yank of the wheel at speed, on road or track, to realise that this is a much more neutrally balanced, far more agile, and way more capable GT car than before. It hangs on gamely, steers convincingly and, if pushed, will even indulge in slides the old car could only have dreamed of.


The donkey and transmission, then, are where it still needs a bit of work. Most of the time, both are good already. But quick throttle inputs, if you lift off then come back on again, give the engine a hesitation. Otherwise it's a paragon of effortless oomph, albeit delivered less soulfully than a V12. And the gearshift still needs tuning for better comfort and refinement at low speeds, where there's the occasional audible, and sometimes decelerative, clonk. But at higher speeds, it's already fine. I do wonder if they'd rather have fitted a conventional auto, which intrinsically feels more refined, to me, but that's a limitation of the platform.

Small price to pay, though, for an architecture which is lighter, more keenly balanced and far more capable than before. It's already extremely competent, then, this car. A few more details and it'll be an excellent mildly sporting GT.


SPECIFICATION - BENTLEY CONTINENTAL GT

Engine: 5,950cc, twin-turbocharged W12
Transmission: 8-speed ZF automatic, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 635@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 664@1,350-4,500rpm
0-62mph: 3.7sec
Top speed: 207mph
Weight: 2,244kg (kerb weight)
MPG: TBA
CO2: 278g/km
Price: £156,700

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author
Discussion

sidesauce

Original Poster:

718 posts

149 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
I think this car will sell even better than the last one...

jhonn

1,043 posts

80 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
That is lovely, some really fine details and luxury touches there. Looking forward to being astonished at the monstrous prices in the options list!

Krikkit

12,524 posts

112 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
This looks great on the outside, but falls down on the interior (that screen looks very parts-bin and wtf is that button splodge around the gear lever?), and why haven't they got a proper torque converter auto? Surely the Continental is supposed to be a wafty machine, not sporty? Auto for the normal Conti, maybe the dual clutch for the speed?

Helicopter123

3,054 posts

87 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
Looks epic. Exactly what a Bentley should be.

As for the price, I expect if Sir has to ask...

Crazy4557

177 posts

125 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
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Saw one in the flesh at the weekend, beautiful interior quality but I didn't notice any flaws at all.
Side by side with the old model makes it look a lot less sporty but I guess it'll drive better.
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DJM7691

336 posts

40 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
100% would have a DB11 over this.

DB11 is best part of 400kg lighter, and will wipe the floor with the GT dynamically. I know the DB11 looks are subjective, but to my eyes, and in the metal, it looks fabulous, wheras this just looks like a re-hash of the old one. That side profile does nothing for it, makes it look frumpy and rides too high.

The V8 of these will be the one to own, as it will help to bring that weight distribution back towards what it should be.

BIRMA

2,330 posts

125 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
A lot better looking than the previous model. I could never get the comment someone made about the rear of the old model looking like Vanessa Phelps a*se and it stuck with me. Although now I've seen a few pictures of the new model there seems quite a resemblance to the Audi A5/6 fastback.

Streetrod

6,302 posts

137 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
By chance I was up at Bentley Sevenoaks a couple of weeks ago and they had one in the show for display purposes only. Compare to the old version next to it the new car is a massive step forward.

What will sell this car is the interior, it made the DB11 I test drove the week earlier look low rent and I really liked the DB11. The details in things like the headlights are exquisite. On the flip side, with such a huge options list it would be very easy to spec a car and make it almost unsalable in the future.

For the money I think Bentley have done a great job

howardhughes

192 posts

135 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
Beautiful and Opulent as it should be.

givablondabone

2,502 posts

86 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
I'll have to reserve judgement on the styling until/if I see one in the flesh. Not convinced at all from the pics, especially the rear quarter/wheel arch. The front grill looks too slabby as well.

Interior looks lovely in terms of detailing but a bit too much wood/chrome for my liking. It's more like a Riva Aquarama speed boat.

Objectively, it will of course be rather good no doubt.

Gameface

3,259 posts

8 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
I think Bentley interiors are the best around at the moment.

Inspectre

356 posts

150 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
The "donkey and transmission" is that cockney slang for something or a subtle Azeri joke?

Car looks impressive by the way...

So

13,813 posts

153 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
givablondabone said:
The front grill looks too slabby as well.

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There should be no cooking equipment on the vehicle at all.

FerdiZ28

900 posts

65 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
Streets ahead of the Aston. What a fabulous looking thing, this will sell like hot cakes, they will be everywhere.

Good Work Bentley!

T16OLE

2,704 posts

122 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
Is it a dual clutch as it says in the main text or ZF 8-speed auto as it says in the spec?

Looks good to my eyes, love the interior

clowesy

204 posts

52 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
T16OLE said:
Is it a dual clutch as it says in the main text or ZF 8-speed auto as it says in the spec?

Looks good to my eyes, love the interior
It is an 8-speed Dual Clutch (PDK) made by ZF

ZX10R NIN

10,978 posts

56 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
I think it's proportions look better than the first gen.

akashzimzimma

21 posts

8 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
You've mentioned in the article it has the 8 speed dual clutch box ( PDK box shared with the new Panamera) , but for some reason you've written its got an 8 speed ZF in the spec.

dazwalsh

3,740 posts

72 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
Oh wow, it took many years and a face-lift or 2 for me to warm to the old shape but this one looks fantastic.

This makes the db11 look a little err cheap, especially the interior.

156k, yeah I'd pay that. Looks every penny like a 150k + motor.

Nice video of it here https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=T0w5wYmffhU

Edited by dazwalsh on Tuesday 28th November 21:46

Too Drunk to Funk

804 posts

8 months

Tuesday 28th November 2017
quotequote all
Cool.