The very latest aluminium superforming production technology has allowed Bentley’s design team, led by Dirk van Braeckel, much greater freedom for sculpture in the Continental GT's panels, carved into sharper, more pronounced creases and curves than the original could ever have had.
The updated GT looks contemporary and sacrifices a little of the original’s simple elegance for greater visual muscularity. To our eyes, it’s an appealing compromise. There’s even scope for a few references to pre-war Bentleys.
The Continental sits on 20-inch wheels as standard, but there’s a choice of Mulliner-spec 21-inchers as options. That’s a restrictive line-up by Bentley’s standards, of course; the company’s reputation for craftsmanship and bespoke interior trim is just as applicable to the Continental as it is a Mulsanne.
The 2011-revised styling is only quietly suggestive of what Bentley has done to the mechanicals of this car to make it a match for the Aston Martins, Ferraris and Porsches of this decade. The updated GT’s body is 40mm wider than it was, and the track widths of its chassis are 41mm wider up front and 48mm greater at the rear.
There has been a greater effort to keep the emissions under control, with an 8-speed close-ratio automatic gearbox and variable displacement system controlling the CO2 output despite the increase in power. The introduction of a smaller 4.0-litre V8 engine means less weight on at the front and better efficiency without compromising too much on performance.