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2018 Bentley Continental GT: A Learjet For The Autobahn (With Video)
by Martin Green
Launched in 2003 and receiving a significant update in 2011, the Continental GT put Bentley back on the map with something other than a four-door sedan. It was very popular as it combined luxury with sheer power.
Bentley cleverly extended the lifecycle of the previous generation by introducing the V8 later on, which helped to keep sales number up. But now we finally have a whole new Continental GT, and it does not disappoint!
Far more seductive curves for the 2018 Continental GT
While its main lines are instantly recognizable as Bentley, for 2018 these are infused with design cues from the EXP 10 Speed 6, which the brand launched as a concept car in 2015.
With its Matrix LED headlights and prominent folds in the hood, the front looks more organic, effectively shifting Bentley’s traditional styling a little bit closer to the future. Bentley’s designers were able to make the GT more athletic looking as well, using an increased wheelbase length 13.4 cm longer than the previous generation.
The back of the car is also significantly restyled with its still very prominent hips now flowing into a far more refined tail section. Fortunately, this also includes better-proportioned taillights, making the back far less blunt in design.
The oval design takes some getting used to (at least for me) as it would be more expected on an Italian thoroughbred then an English locomotive.
Nuclear power plant under the hood
Of course, part of the appeal of the Bentley Continental GT has always been found under the hood. There has never been a version lacking in power, and the updated 6.0-liter W12 in the new edition is most certainly not lacking in that department, either. This car can go 0 to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds thanks to 626 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque. That is enough to fight off most Ferraris, see nearly all Porsches disappear in the rearview mirror, and at least keep within reach of a Tesla!
The Continental GT is capable of these sprints thanks to its Sport Launch mode, which is part of the new eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. But of course burning rubber at every traffic light is not chic at all, so most owners will probably appreciate the smoother gear changes that this gearbox provides. The Continental GT now also features more advanced cylinder deactivation as well as stop/start technology, which helps to reduce emissions by 16 percent in comparison to the previous model.
To put the car even more in the GT spirit, the all-wheel-drive system has also been adapted, sending all its power to the rear wheels unless the system detects that it is more advantageous to also send some power to the front wheels.
Bentley combines this with the “Bentley Dynamic Ride” that the brand first introduced on the Bentayga, which improves grip and decreases body roll by placing electronic actuators on the axle’s anti-roll bars. The car is also equipped with new air suspension that has several settings: from supercar stiff to limousine smooth.
100 square feet of wood sanctuary
The interior is a critical aspect of the Continental GT as many of its owners indeed use it to travel distances that are just too short to fire up the Learjet for. That is also the beauty of the Continental GT as it is still used as a “GT,” which stand for grand tourer, a fast yet luxurious car made for longer trips rather than showing off along the local boulevard.
To do this in comfort, the seats are 20-way adjustable and covered in the finest leather, which now features a newly developed “diamond-in-diamond” quilted pattern. The owner is surrounded by what must have once been a sizable forest as Bentley uses more than 100 square feet of wood in the cabin of each Continental GT – all of which, of course, is hand-fit. The inlaying alone takes nine hours.
When you are tired of listening to the engine’s magic twelve cylinders, you can turn on the standard ten-speaker, 650-watt sound system and tune into your favorite music. For true audiophiles, Bentley also offers a 1,500-watt, 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen system, while people with audiophile disorder might want to check the option box for the 2,200-watt, 18-speaker Naim system so you finally know how James Corden feels when he does Carpool Karaoke with a superstar in the passenger’s seat next to him.
Bentley is particularly proud of what it has christened the “Bentley Rotating Display.” When you get in the car the dashboard is (minus the instrument cluster in front of you) an unbroken sea of the finest veneer. When you press the engine start button, a panel in the middle rotates to reveal a 12.3-inch display that seems to be mandatory in every single car made today.
Fortunately there is a third side, which is by far the most exciting as it shows three analog dials displaying the temperature, compass, and a chronograph! That is how I like my Bentley: modern technology in the service of old-school style!
The chronograph seems to be able to measure up to 60 minutes in an analog manner with a digital readout built in (much like that of the Breitling B1 Aerospace) for hours, minutes, and seconds. There is also an analog clock between the air vents on the central console. Surprisingly, this only carries the Bentley logo and not that of Breitling.
With this new generation, the Continental GT is now more current than ever. It can turn from a supercar eater into a luxury limousine and become everything in between with the change of just a few settings. And if it were somehow able to drive over water you would probably forgo your Learjet forever. But the best news about this new Bentley is what is yet to come.
It is unannounced yet, but with certainty bordering on probability we can expect a Continental GT Speed and/or Supersports in the near future, providing even more mind-boggling performance. A convertible, the GTC, is most likely in the cards as is a V8 later on the lifecycle of the 2018 model.
But for now, Bentley has secured the Continental GT’s place as top dog when it comes to luxury performance coupes once more.
For more information, please visit www.bentleymotors.com/en/models/new-continental-gt.
Quick Facts 2018 Bentley Continental GT
Engine: 6.0-litre W12 TSI engine
Power: 626 hp
Torque: 900 Newton-meters (664 pound-foot)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic with dual clutch
Acceleration: 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds
Top speed: 207 mph
Expected base price: to be determined
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Also published on Medium.