A taste of Bent­ley

The third-gen­er­a­tion Bent­ley Con­ti­nen­tal GT ex­udes power and grace as we take it on a charm­ing drive on the Gold Coast, Aus­tralia.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Car Sifu - By LEE PANG SENG car­[email protected]­tar.com.my

THE Bent­ley Con­ti­nen­tal GT took our breath away six years ago in Sin­ga­pore in the Con­ti­nen­tal GT Speed, as we dis­cov­ered then how nim­ble and ag­ile a two-tonne Grand Tourer could be when push comes to shove.

Our paths crossed again re­cently when we were in­vited to the Gold Coast, Aus­tralia, to have a drive im­pres­sion of the third-gen­er­a­tion Con­ti­nen­tal GT on wind­ing back roads where it again re­vealed its sure­footed dy­nam­ics.

The trip was or­gan­ised as part of the Asia-Pa­cific in­tro­duc­tion of the new Con­ti­nen­tal GT in Aus­tralia, New Zealand, Sin­ga­pore, Tai­wan and through­out South-East Asia.

Be­fore we get to the ex­cit­ing part, let’s get bet­ter ac­quainted with what the lat­est ver­sion of this top-end GT from Bent­ley is all about.

To the lay­man, per­haps the most strik­ing note about the lat­est Con­ti­nen­tal GT has to be its four “crys­tal” eyes and to a lesser ex­tent, its sim­pler man­i­fes­ta­tion in the rear lights combo.

This de­sign ap­proach was in­spired by the “cut-crys­tal of the finest glass­ware” as its struc­ture serves well in re­fract­ing the light beam in the head­lamp to the de­sired ef­fect to make night driv­ing safe and plea­sur­able.

While it might ini­tially ap­pear some­what flashy for such an elite and el­e­gant sports car, the crys­tal ef­fect of the head­lamps cer­tainly en­gages the be­holder the more one looks at it.

By con­trast, the oval rear lamps came across as a lit­tle too sim­ple but the clever way in which the in­di­ca­tor lights are com­bined in each light as­sem­bly adds new al­lure.

The in­di­ca­tor light is ac­ti­vated in­side the multi-lamp unit, giv­ing it a rather novel ap­proach apart from pro­vid­ing a cleaner body pro­file with­out lit­tle de­tails be­ing ac­com­mo­dated here and there.

This rear light de­sign is com­ple­mented by the two ex­haust tailpipes, one to each end of the car, which has the chrome units styled in a sim­i­lar oval, though some­what flat­tish, out­line.

When the Bent­ley de­sign­ers got

down to work on this third-gen­era-tion Con­ti­nen­tal GT five years ago, they had to come up with a fresh look with­out fore­go­ing three key styl-ing de­tails that un­der­score its charac-ter and lin­eage. These are the sharp power line that flows from the front wheels, the all too dis­tinct mus­cu­lar haunch that forms the rear shoul­ders and the slop­ing roofline that adds to its swift aero­dy­nam­ics; its aero­dy­namic co-ef-fi­cient is 0.29 and that's pretty good. Help­ing that is the "in­ter­play" be­tween smooth and cur­va­ceous body lines and very sharp edges that un­der­line Ben­ders new "fuse­lage sur­fac­ing phi­los­o­phy", which sur­pris-in­gly is not a novel con­cept. This styling ap­proach was first adopted in the 1934 Spar­tan Ex­ec­u­tive air­craft and Bent­ley fol-lowed up on it with a new twist to achieve a "grace­ful and pow­er­ful" form. A sig­nif­i­cant tech­ni­cal change is in mov­ing the front wheels 135mm for-ward to have a more bal­anced front-rear weight distri­bu­tion and give it a more ath­letic stance and dy­nam­ics. Prac­ti­cal vis­ual ef­fects are the shorter front over­hang and longer bonnet that help con­trib­ute to its grace­ful mus­cu­lar­ity and en­hances its sport­ing po­ten­tial as a top-end GT car.

In that re­spect, the en­gi­neers have achieved their goal; the new Con­ti­nen­tal GT does draw strong ap­peal with its re-en­er­gised pro­file with­out los­ing its dis­tinct her­itage.

Add to that the all-alu­minium ex­te­rior pan­els crafted with Bent­ley’s Su­per Plas­tic form­ing tech­nol­ogy, mak­ing the body the largest Su­per Formed panel in the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try.

And the fas­ci­na­tion con­tin­ues into the 2+2 in­te­rior that re­flects in Bent­ley’ words “in­her­ent beauty of per­fect geo­met­ric pat­terns and the use of ac­cents of colour preva­lent through­out high fash­ion and in the work of tai­lors of Sav­ile Row”.

What is im­me­di­ate to the eye are the new di­a­mond-in-di­a­mond quilt­ing tech­nique ap­plied to the doors and seats, the cen­tre­piece but op­tional Bent­ley Ro­tat­ing Dis­play on the cen­tre dash area, the new op­tional pat­terned fin­ish to the cen­tre con­sole that is taken from Swiss watch­mak­ing and the 12-colour cus­tomis­able mood light­ing (to be en­joyed dur­ing night driv­ing of course).

What would all this au­to­mo­tive fin­ery be with­out the “oomph!”that comes from the power unit in front — the 6.0-litre twin-tur­bocharged 12-cylin­der W12 TSI.

To es­tab­lish this pow­er­ful fact, Bent­ley adds the num­ber “12” to a ded­i­cated po­si­tion on the front wheel arch, which is some­times ac­com­pa­nied by the Bri­tish flag lo­cated higher up to es­tab­lish its roots.

The W12 en­gine has been up­dated since the Con­ti­nen­tal GT Speed and is slightly smaller in ac­tual dis­place­ment of 5,950cc from 5,998cc pre­vi­ously.

Out­put is up though with max­i­mum power now at 635PS (im­proved by 10PS) and torque in­creased by 100Nm to 900Nm.

With a Con­ti­nen­tal GT that is al­most 70kg lighter than be­fore, you could imag­ine the bet­ter power-toweight ra­tio that this third-gen­er­a­tion GT pro­vides.

That trans­lates to faster ac­cel­er­a­tion; Bent­ley says the new Con­ti­nen­tal GT ac­cel­er­ates from the lights to 100kph in 3.7 sec­onds, mak­ing it half a sec­ond faster than the pre­vi­ous model, and has a slightly higher top speed of 333kph (330kph pre­vi­ously).

The proof of the pud­ding is in the eat­ing although the drive im­pres­sion this time was in more sober sur­round­ings than the ex­treme drive we en­joyed in Sin­ga­pore six years ago.

Be­ing a pub­lic road drive in con­voy fash­ion, and in a coun­try where po­lice mon­i­tor­ing is ac­tively con­ducted, we set­tled down to en­joy­ing the lux­u­ri­ous fit­tings that such a top premium GT car would pro­vide.

We hardly heard the en­gine for the kind of le­gal speeds we had to ob­serve, ex­cept for a quick take-off from the lights by the lead car that re­vealed the loud vi­brant ex­haust note as it sprinted away over a short dis­tance.

Our first leg was to By­ron’s Bay to the south of the Gold Coast that had wind­ing roads quite sim­i­lar to that lead­ing to Fraser’s Hill.

There are three drive modes — Com­fort, Bent­ley and Sport — for the air sus­pen­sion that uses new three-cham­ber air springs to achieve a more com­fort­able ride.

By the way, the new Con­ti­nen­tal GT is now an all-wheel drive and not per­ma­nent four-wheel drive and en­gine out­put is var­ied be­tween front and rear.

Through the tight twisties we were com­fort­able us­ing Sport mode as we could re­late im­me­di­ately to how the front wheels were point­ing and the en­gine man­age­ment sys­tem made sure the en­gine was in high torque range to give us that road grip.

Do­ing the same in Bent­ley mode made the steer­ing feel a bit vague and there was less en­gine push to give us the con­fi­dence to drive faster through the cor­ners.

And the new Con­ti­nen­tal GT con­tin­ued to im­press with its level-headed poise when pushed through cor­ners, es­pe­cially for a car of its size.

Ap­par­ently, it is said the Bent­ley made one a good driver with its pos­i­tive dy­namic ad­just­ments through wind­ing roads and it’s true up to a point.

With the eight-speed dual clutch au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, it wasn’t sur­pris­ing to see the en­gine turn­ing be­low 1,000rpm while cruis­ing in ur­ban ar­eas and on high­ways (the sec­ond leg). The down­shifts were so smoothly ex­e­cuted they were only noted when the tachome­ter nee­dle rose above 1,000rpm.

For a de­fin­i­tive Grand Tourer that fetches above RM2mil in Malaysia, the lat­est Con­ti­nen­tal GT is un­de­ni­ably a wel­come ad­di­tion to the garage for the well-heeled.

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