Put the house on it

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Sport - Joshua Dowl­ing

WHEN a car costs al­most as much as a house, you’d think it would come with the works, but the $450,000 price tag for the new Bent­ley Con­ti­nen­tal GT is just the be­gin­ning.

If you want the James Bond-style ro­tat­ing touch­screen in the dash – which at the press of a but­ton re­veals old-school gauges or a blank piece of tim­ber – that’ll cost an ex­tra $12,300.

Ad­vanced safety fea­tures stan­dard on a new Toy­ota Corolla are split into two tech­nol­ogy packs that cost $10,300 or $16,200.

“We are pri­ori­tis­ing what our cus­tomers tell us is im­por­tant in a Bent­ley: (a choice of) 15 leather colours, eight dif­fer­ent ve­neers,” said David Parker, Bent­ley direc­tor of prod­uct mar­ket­ing. .

Au­tonomous emer­gency brak­ing is stan­dard even on sub-$20,000 hatch­backs but “that doesn’t mean a Bent­ley cus­tomer ex­pects it”, says Mike Sayer, global PR boss for Bent­ley. Buy­ers want “the com­bi­na­tion of lux­ury and per­for­mance, hand crafts­man­ship and the ex­e­cu­tion of de­sign”.

This is the first com­pletely new Con­ti­nen­tal GT in 15 years. Su­per-rich ve­hi­cles are re­newed decades apart be­cause they are ex­pen­sive to make and de­pre­ci­ate even faster if up­dates are more fre­quent.

The all-alu­minium body is longer, wider and sleeker than be­fore.

There are 82 LEDS in each head­light, the hous­ings etched with grooves in­spired by crys­tal glasses.

Un­der the stretched bon­net is a re­vised ver­sion of the epic twin-turbo W12 en­gine; as be­fore, two V6s mounted back-to-back.

It’s now paired to an eight-speed twin-clutch auto; all-wheel-drive hard­ware sends power pri­mar­ily to the rear wheels.

The in­te­rior is a mix of modern tech­nol­ogy – with a dig­i­tal in­stru­ment dis­play and 12-inch touch- screen – and old school chrome, tim­ber and leather.

The new Con­ti­nen­tal GT comes into its own once on an open road. The hand-as­sem­bled W12 has phe­nom­e­nal grunt and makes light work of the car’s 2244kg mass.

Even though it’s heav­ier than a Toy­ota Hilux, the ac­cel­er­a­tion is mind­bend­ing, with a claimed 0100km/h time of 3.7 sec­onds in launch mode.

There’s some de­bate about whether the switch to a twin-clutch auto was the right move.

Big pow­er­ful en­gines cus­tom­ar­ily work best with torque con­verter au­tos but Bent­ley changed to a twin-clutch trans­mis­sion be­cause it says prospec­tive buy­ers wanted a more sporty trans­mis­sion.

Bent­ley has done a fair job of smooth­ing the shifts to make it feel like a con­ven­tional auto around town, but it does trip up oc­ca­sion­ally when brak­ing quickly or eas­ing off the ac­cel­er­a­tor af­ter a short burst.

The grip in cor­ners is pro­found and the brakes – among the largest fit­ted to a pro­duc­tion car – are as im­pres­sive as the ac­cel­er­a­tion.

Most buy­ers may pre­fer to travel incog­nito but I reckon there will be plenty who want to make a grand en­trance, or de­par­ture.

The Bent­ley Con­ti­nen­tal GT.

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