GRANDER TOURER CONTINENTAL GT
Bentley’s latest 6-litre W12 Continental GT coddles and travels even better than its predecessor.
IIN 2003, Bentley rolled out the first-generation Continental GT, under the stewardship of VW-Audi rather than RollsRoyce. This was the first Bentley made that had nothing to do with the old partnership with Rolls-Royce. Instead, the 2003 Bentley Continental GT was created from the platform of the Volkswagen Phaeton. Bentley made huge improvements to create the Continental range of cars, which include the Continental GT Convertible and Continental Flying Spur.
The second-generation Continental GT, introduced in 2011, was a heavily revised edition of the first-generation Continental GT. The changes were so subtle that it was not easy to discern new from old at a glance.
However, in 2018, after soldiering on with the old platform for some 14 years, Bentley ditched it for one shared with Porsche – to be precise, the Panamera platform which carries the internal codename MSB.
The Continental GT is the premier luxury coupe that has ruled that niche, with some 70,000 examples sold during that period. There are very few grand tourer coupes that seat four in comfort, have a 12-cylinder engine and offer supercarrivalling performance capabilities. That formula has not changed for the 2018 Continental GT. It may share a platform with Porsche, but today’s platform-sharing is very sophisticated and can create completely unique models.
It is clear that the Bentley stylists have endeavoured to create a noticeably different Continental GT, yet maintain a strong familial resemblance.
It appears more svelte, mainly because it is 44mm longer and 10mm wider, although the height is almost identical.
The redesign actually pushes the front axle 135mm further forward, such that the front overhang is reduced significantly, giving the car the appearance of a longer nose and rearward cab. That forward extension of the front axle is more than the 105mm increase in the car’s wheelbase.
The styling changes are most evident at the front and the rear. Large chrome-mesh apertures dominate the fascia, finishing almost flush with the outer surface instead of being smaller and recessed like on the old GT. The LED headlamps are also flush with the surface, but they have a unique cut-crystal appearance due to the reflector on the inside.
The block-like tail-lamps have been replaced by a pair of ovoid lamps that help reduce the bulk and give the coupe a completely new look from the back.
From the side, it is recognisably similar to the previous Conti GT, as the signature lines are all there, albeit a bit more sharply
delineated thanks to the special super-forming process of the aluminium body panels. Overall, the newcomer seems a bit more curvaceous than before. Even bigger changes await on the inside. The new wraparound design replaces the old biwing design and really makes the cabin feel modern.
Traditional materials have been used all round, with the exception of a Cotes de Geneve-inspired aluminium panel that covers the centre console around the gearlever. Otherwise, there are the usual wood veneers (over 10 square metres in total) and leather upholsteries in abundance. Modernity comes in the form of a three-sided rotating panel at the centre of the dashboard.
Said panel has an up-to- the-minute 12.3-inch LCD touchscreen information display on one face, and a set of classic analogue gauges to display ambient temperature, compass direction and a stopwatch on another face. A matching wood panel is the third face that rotates into place as the car is shut down.
The leather on some surfaces displays a “diamond in diamond” quilting technique, with a single diamond embroidery requiring 712 stitches. It looks immaculate in the new cabin.
Of course, personal customising is a possibility, with an almost infinite number of combinations of leather hues, veneers and stitching to create a one-of-a-kind Bentley.
If the standard 650-watt 10-speaker audio system does not meet your expectations,
THE STYLISTS HAVE CREATED A NOTICEABLY DIFFERENT CONTINENTAL GT, YET MAINTAINED A STRONG FAMILIAL RESEMBLANCE.