The Bentley Continental GT luxury coupe owes its name and heritage to the glory days of Bentley, when cars such as the R Type Continental coupe of the early ’50s offered the wealthy a fast, stylish and comfortable way to traverse the open highways. Sadly, the next three decades saw Bentley become nothing more than a clone of Rolls-Royce, which had purchased Bentley in the early 1930s.
Sometime in the 1980s, the company decided it wanted a distinct identity and returned to its performance roots with cars such as the Turbo R. After being bought out by Volkswagen in the late 1990s and benefiting from that company’s vast resources, Bentley began turning out ever more irresistible luxury saloons, coupes and convertibles.
The first of these models was, in fact, the Bentley Continental GT. Though some of its components are shared with other VW products, the Continental GT boasts a number of key attributes for well-heeled car enthusiasts, including blistering performance courtesy of a twin-turbo 12-cylinder engine, the all-weather confidence of all-wheel drive, a sumptuous interior that typifies the marque and, of course, the prestige factor.
It takes 110 hours to handcraft each GT at the Bentley factory in Crewe, Cheshire. The two-door sports car range consists of the GT 8 S and the GT W12. The sumptuous and technically complex unique interiors are handcrafted by the experts in Bentley’s Leather and Trim workshop. Each hide is carefully checked by hand and eye before being stitched, shaped and finished entirely by hand, rivalling the quality of the finest furniture and precise tolerances of jewellery and watch craftsmanship. Both models were recently refreshed with a complement of new features.
The GT front bumper features a smaller radiator opening and more pronounced fenders to lend a more assertive and confident stance to the front of the car. The front grille features a metallic “B” adornment, which serve to emphasise and enhance the renowned Bentley “power line” that flows rearwards from the front arches. At the rear of the car, the boot lid is sculpted, with a pronounced aerodynamic profile to the trailing edge. The wide rear bumper features full-width chrome strip. The V8 S features a unique rear diffuser design to further differentiate the performance-focused members of the Continental family.
The Bentley Continental GT is refreshed with a complement of new exterior design features, aimed at sharpening the on-road presence of the iconic Grand Tourer. A new front bumper combines with a smaller radiator shell and new, more pronounced fenders to lend a more assertive and confident stance to the front of the car. The fenders now feature a new vent, complete with a graceful metallic “B” adornment, which serve to emphasise and enhance the renowned Bentley “power line” that flows rearwards from the front arches.
New bright chrome fender badges for the V8 S and W12 models now match those applied to the GT Speed. At the rear of the car, the boot lid is now more sculpted, with a pronounced aerodynamic profile to the trailing edge. The rear bumper has been reshaped and widened for an added sense of power, and now features full-width chrome strip. The V8 S and GT Speed also gain a new rear diffuser design to further differentiate the performance-focused members of the Continental family. The standard wheel for the GT V8 and GT W12 becomes a new 20”, six-tri-spoke wheel, in painted finish for the V8 and bright machined for the W12.
The remarkable 375 kW (500hp) 4.0-litre Bentley V8 engine delivers 0-100 km/h acceleration in just 4.8 seconds and a top speed of over 305 km/h, while still benefiting from an impressive potential range of over 850 kilometres between fill-ups.
Under the revised skin of the Continental GT W12 lie three changes to the mighty 6.0-litre twin turbo W12 powertrain. Firstly, the engine receives a power and torque increase, from 567 hp / 423 kW and 700 Nm to 582 hp / 434 kW and 720 Nm, to maintain the model’s reputation of effortless performance.
The power upgrade is accompanied by improvements to fuel economy of up to 5%. The GT W12 now includes a variable displacement system, which allows it to run at part throttle on six of its 12 cylinders to reduce fuel consumption without sacrificing refinement and offers lower fuel consumption rating of 14.1 litres/100 km.
The interior of the Continental GT is renowned for its supreme luxury with soft-touch leathers, wood veneers, polished metals and deep-pile carpeting, handcrafted in Bentley’s unrivalled workshops at the factory in Crewe, England. The interior of the ‘S’ models presents a thoroughly modern interpretation of Bentley luxury in which colour and tone offer further appeal to the senses.
The visual upgrades continue inside the luxury interior of the Continental range. A new and contemporary straight-fluting pattern adorns the four generous seats. Driver controls are refreshed with an optional, more ergonomic and sports-orientated steering wheel and larger gearshift paddles incorporating tactile knurled metal embellishers.
Chrome elements across the console are updated, the driver’s instrument panel receives new dials and graphics for a refreshed, more contemporary look, and the beauty of the new interior is now illuminated by LEDs. The centre console also features a new black gear lever surround, unifying the style of all driver controls. For the V8 S models, a new hidden storage compartment is fitted between the rear seats, capable of accommodating and charging electronic devices.
Abundance. Wretched excess. More than adequate. If any of these phrases gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling, then you will probably fall in love with the Bentley Continental GT. The 2017 Bentley Continental represents the second-generation model, which debuted in the 2011 model year. The 2017 model is not a major departure from the previous GT, amounting to more of a light refresh. An all-new third generation model is currently undergoing development and will premier in 2018. Visit the Bentley Nairobi, located at Porsche Centre in Sameer Business Park along Mombasa Road, for more information on the continental GT range.
Quote: It takes 110 hours to handcraft each GT at the Bentley factory in Crewe, Cheshire.
What we like
- Appealing design
- Plenty of power
- Smooth power delivery
- Extensive customisation options
What we dislike
- Less expensive rival offer almost equivalent performance
- Limited safety equipment
- Expensive optional extras
- Cramped rear seats