Put the house on it
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.