Bentley’s model-year 2016 coupes are rapid, refined and hard-hitting.
THE British marque has updated its entire lineup of Continental GT coupes and GTC convertibles. Since the debut of the GT range in 2003 and the subsequent full model change in 2011, the twodoor grand tourers have been the company’s saviour, selling over 50,000 units. It’s a little disappointing to me that Bentley only improved the GT’s standard 6-litre W12 motor. Cylinder deactivation, as applied in the newer V8s, has helped the twin-turbocharged 12-cylinder reduce fuelconsumption by 5 percent, while a remap of the engine’s ECU has netted modest gains of 15bhp and 20Nm.
4-litre V8 S motor roars, crackles and burbles.
The GT range starts with the 500bhp/660Nm V8 and graduates to the 521bhp/680Nm V8 S. The range-topping GT Speed off ers 626bhp and 820Nm from its soupedup 6-litre W12 motor. With Bentley, styling updates are usually subtle, so as not to date the outgoing models. Look closely and you might spot the changes made to the fenders (more pronounced and with redesigned vents), radiator grille (which has a smaller outer frame), boot lid (more sculpted) and rear bumper (now with a full-width chrome strip). Completing the subtle restyle are new 20- and 21- inch wheels, and three new paintwork choices: Marlin (rich blue), Jetstream (light blue) and Camel (soft golden tone).
As expected of Bentley, most of the wow factor is inside the cabin, which neatly blends the best values of the old and new automotive worlds. For the refresh, Bentley’s artisans have created lovely new materials, with one of the loveliest being the “straight-flute” upholstery for the big seats. To give the interior more bling, the stylists have used a lot more chrome and mirror-polished metal surfaces. There’s also a new steering wheel, whose knurledmetal paddle-shifters have been made larger than before. Catering to the surge of techsavvy Bentley owners, on-board Wi-Fi is now available in every Continental model.
Redone “brightware”, revised instruments, larger paddles and elegant options galore make the Continental GT interior even nicer.
When I tested the updated Continental GTs in Oslo, the Norwegian mountain roads were wet in places because of intermittent rainfall. I was glad that these Bentleys come with full-time all-wheeldrive, because piloting anything with this much power and without “4x4” grip around the many hairpins could be dangerous in those conditions. In the dry, the 626bhp 6-litre W12 GT Speed uses its all-wheel-drive system to the greatest advantage, charging from a standstill to 100km/h in 4.2 seconds and reaching an impressive 331km/h. The 582bhp W12 GT takes 4.5 seconds to do the same run, with the 521bhp 4-litre V8 S keeping pace until both cars charge past 300km/h. Even the “base” 500bhp 4-litre V8 GT slips under 5 seconds for the 0-100km/h sprint and hits a top speed of 305km/h.
As far as straight-line performance goes, there’s no doubt the GT Speed is the quickest car in the Continental collection. But throw in a torturous mountain road as an “equaliser” and the V8 S jumps into contention. It’s lighter by 25kg, better balanced and, with “less” engine over the front axle, more agile at the same time. Furthermore, there’s a naughty, “un-Bentley” side to the car, thanks to its V8 exhaust roar, replete with crackles and burbles. I would choose the GT V8 S for roads like these, where it would be most enjoyable to drive.
Of course, the W12-powered Continental GTs are even more refined than their V8 siblings If ultimate refinement is of paramount importance to you, go for the W12 versions. If you want great refinement plus even greater performance, go for the W12 GT Speed. The slow pace of styling changes to Bentley’s Continental GT family has given it an evergreen appeal, much like Porsche’s 911 design. Having a variety of V8 and W12 engines ensures that diff erent tastes are satisfied, while the motorsport success of the Continental GT3 appeals to a younger (multimillionaire) demographic in the market for a new V8 Ferrari and gives the Bentley brand added street cred