Gran­der GT

Bent­ley’s sig­na­ture su­per coupe be­gins its world tour

Automobile - - New And Future Cars -

THE HULKING BENTAYGA SUV may be the sto­ried mar­que’s new hot­ness, but the 2019 Con­ti­nen­tal GT is Bent­ley’s mod­ern-era heart. The as­sem­bled of­fi­cials who spoke—and whom we spoke with—dur­ing our first taste of the car used words like “honor” and “crowning achieve­ment” to de­scribe how they felt about work­ing on the new gen­er­a­tion of Bent­ley su­per coupe. In­deed, the Conti GT was a phe­nom­e­non when it first hit the mar­ket back in 2003. It quickly be­came a gotta-have-it ma­chine for hiphop stars, Hol­ly­wood hot­shots, and the nou­veaux riches alike, with some 70,000 hav­ing been sold to date.

The third-gen­er­a­tion Con­ti­nen­tal GT finds its voice from the hand-built mas­ter­piece that is its

6.0-liter twin-turbo W-12 en­gine, which is rated at 626 hp and 664 lb-ft—num­bers that would have blown ev­ery­one away a decade ago but now seem al­most com­mon­place. There is noth­ing com­mon about this su­per coupe, how­ever. This is a mem­ber of the House of Lords—a proper Bri­tish mo­tor­car that does its tour­ing in grand style while nod­ding to Bent­ley’s past.

Dur­ing 200 miles or so of tak­ing on chal­leng­ing, foggy moun­tain passes, lol­ly­gag­ging through pic­ture-post­card moun­tain towns, blast­ing through tun­nels, and rolling deep across rain-slicked mo­tor­ways in Aus­tria and a tiny slice of north­ern Italy, we felt to­tally in con­trol of the Con­ti­nen­tal GT at all times.

There is no get­ting around the fact that this is still a big and heavy car at 4,947 pounds, but it is some 130 pounds lighter than be­fore and flat and con­fi­dent dur­ing hard cor­ner­ing. It’s also fe­ro­ciously fast, with 60 mph com­ing on in 3.6 sec­onds. And like the pre­vi­ous Con­ti­nen­tal GT, it joins the 200 Club, with a top speed of 207 mph.

The steer­ing wheel you’re turn­ing is a stitched-up, leather-clad unit, part of a cabin that many heifers gave up their hides to swathe. Bent­ley has ramped up its in­te­rior fit and fin­ish, claim­ing that more than 310,000 stitches are needed to cinch up all that leather. Wood ve­neer op­tions kick up the im­pres­sion of lux­ury and are a main cus­tomiza­tion touch point. An­other in­te­rior cue Bent­ley of­fi­cials are par­tic­u­larly proud of is the di­a­mond-in-di­a­mond stitch­ing pat­tern that re­port­edly took 18 months to per­fect.

Prospec­tive U.S. cus­tomers are go­ing to have to wait al­most a year to get their hands on one at $214,600 to start, which is too bad. By the time that hap­pens, Bent­ley will have al­ready be­gun rolling out the in­evitable V-8, plug-in, and myr­iad high-per­for­mance vari­ants. There will be plenty of op­tions, to be sure, but from our first taste of it, the GT is wor­thy of praise.

As for what’s up­com­ing on the Bent­ley docket be­sides the GT—a new-gen­er­a­tion Fly­ing Spur sedan and a ru­mored “coupe” ver­sion of the Bentayga—the big ques­tion is what the Crewe crew’s next all­new model will be. Spec­u­la­tion cen­ters on ei­ther a com­pact-ish, Audi Q5-sized cross­over be­low the Bentayga (please, no) or an all-elec­tric of­fer­ing us­ing a ver­sion of the same VW Group J1 plat­form that will un­der­pin the Porsche Tay­can and the

Audi e-tron GT.

De­sign chief Stefan Sielaff has been on record as all but con­firm­ing that a four-seat

EV is com­ing, with the name Bar­nato be­ing tossed about. This move would make sense, as it would give Bent­ley its first all-elec­tric ve­hi­cle and al­low the mar­que to ex­plore a new look. The com­pany show­cased an EV con­vert­ible road­ster con­cept called the EXP 12 Speed

6e at the 2017 Geneva auto show, but our sources say the pro­duc­tion Bent­ley EV will be based on sis­ter-brand Porsche’s forth­com­ing Tay­can. AM

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.