From £135,760
Useful improvements all round for Bentley's jumbo GT

What is it?

It's an important and interesting car, this revised edition of the Bentley Continental GT. It's the first of the VW generation of models, produced since the Wolfsburg giant acquired Bentley, to have come around for rejuvenation.

Given that the GT was very well received at launch in 2003 and has become the best-selling Bentley in history in the intervening years, it’s fascinating to see what Bentley’s accomplished team believes needs changing.

The revisions have been thorough: nearly every exterior panel changes to modernise and re-balance the exterior, and there's an all-new interior which strikes again for the best quality levels in the £100k-plus class. It also includes a much better infotainment system and new-design seats that look sportier, save space and bring a weight saving of 35kg.

There are also wider tracks and suspension refinements (mostly from existing go-faster Contis), and the adoption of the Supersports’ 40:60 torque split (it used to be 50:50) and a new level of 6.0-litre W12 engine which produces an extra 15bhp and will run on petrol, E85 (85 per cent ethanol) or any biofuel mix in between).

See pics of the Bentley Continental GT in action

What's it like?

It’s a very successful revision of a great car. Bentley builds its cars beautifully, and this new interior only improves the standard. The car looks good, too, though it’ll take you a few views to appreciate the improvements fully. The lengthened nose and ‘prouder’ grille make a big difference, and the stance is improved by the wider tracks, too.

But it’s the driving that’s different. Bentley claims refinement improvements - lowered bump and road noise; controlled wind noise courtesy of double-glazing - as the big issues, but there are other benefits. Great efforts have been made to reduce steering friction, and refine the car’s geometry so that it has brilliant high-speed stability, yet excellent near-centre steering sensitivity.

There was always great cornering grip, and it's made better because the tracks are wider, but this heavy car will now throttle-steer much better than previously, something that belies its 2.3-tonne mass.

The combination of 15bhp more from the flex-fuel engine and a reduction of 65kg overall improves the power-to-weight ratio by a useful six per cent. The car now sprints from 0-60 mph in just 4.6sec, and to 100mph in just over 10sec, even though it’s geared to do 198mph flat out.

If the car now has a foible, it’s the heavy fuel consumption and faint signs of age from its mighty W12 engine, which isn’t quite as good, and doesn’t sound quite as nice, as the very best modern engines in this price bracket.

Should I buy one?

Definitely. The Continental GT is more than a sports car, but far more rakish and agile than a saloon. And its price (boosted to £135,760 by the advent of 20 per cent VAT) still seems pretty decent value against cars that go no faster and are less well equipped and made.

The W12-engined GT’s main rival may turn out to be the still-secret 4.0-litre turbo V8 iteration to be revealed in a year’s time, since it offers a 40 per cent cut in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. For now, though, the W12 rules the roost.

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Bentley Continental GT

Price: £135,760; Top speed: 198mph; 0-60mph: 4.6sec; Economy: 17.1mpg; CO2: 384g/km; Kerb weight: 2320kg; Engine: W12, 5998cc, twin-turbocharged, petrol; Power: 567bhp at 6000rpm; Torque: 516lb ft at 1700rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd automatic

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Steve Cropley

Steve Cropley Autocar
Title: Editor-in-chief

Steve Cropley is the oldest of Autocar’s editorial team, or the most experienced if you want to be polite about it. He joined over 30 years ago, and has driven many cars and interviewed many people in half a century in the business. 

Cropley, who regards himself as the magazine’s “long stop”, has seen many changes since Autocar was a print-only affair, but claims that in such a fast moving environment he has little appetite for looking back. 

He has been surprised and delighted by the generous reception afforded the My Week In Cars podcast he makes with long suffering colleague Matt Prior, and calls it the most enjoyable part of his working week.

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Add a comment…
david RS 15 November 2010

Re: Bentley Continental GT

A very nice (big) car.

Be carefull to well choose the rims : a taste fault is easily arrived.

Grunt 12 November 2010

Re: Bentley Continental GT

Los Angeles wrote:

Grunt wrote:
Point taken about style being subjective
Third time this week that cliche has hit the site.

Either the overall design of an object works because its represents perfection personified, or it does so in spite of its faults (as with the human face) or its so badly underdeveloped, a mish-mash of styles, it's not even passable as a tawdry fashion object.

A more candid observer would make a distinction between style (which is indeed subjective, hence the appropriateness of the cliche) and design, which does (in case it is well-designed) or does not correspond to more universal rules and proportions.

Peter Cavellini 12 November 2010

Re: Bentley Continental GT

Gee!, you must be hard to please Los Angeles, does your toast have to be the right shade of brown?,no car's perfect, this we all or i thought we all knew, everythings 99%, no such thing as 100% perfect!, i think your nit picking.