Why we ran it: To see if the third-generation Continental GT rules the roost as the ultimate grand tourer
Month 4 - Month 3 - Month 2 - Month 1 - Prices and Specs
Life with a Bentley Continental GT: Month 4
Four months have, like the 5000 miles driven, flown by. So what did we learn? - 18th September 2019
Let’s admit it: running a Continental long-term test car isn’t a bad gig, is it? When editor Tisshaw asked me earlier this year if I wanted to run a Conti, I replied saying yes within milliseconds.
There’s one elephant in the room: I don’t have the money or lifestyle associated with owning a car such as our £208,765 Continental GT W12. That means it has been parallel parked, nervously, on a typically narrow London residential street and while, for many, a Continental is a daily driver – perhaps the cheapest car in an owner’s garage – our long-termer has very much been treated as a jewel in the crown.
This is the downside of living with a Continental – the desire to avoid public car parks, airports, unknown parking situations, tight lanes – but you can’t help wonder if one had enough money to properly own this, would such concerns even exist? I can’t answer that, but in three months with the car, we’ve racked up 5000 miles and had ample time to grasp the finer points of ownership.
There’s been no journey I haven’t enjoyed in it, although naturally, given its grand tourer title, it’s most thrilling on long stretches where one can extort the 626bhp available from the W12, and the glorious, rare-these-days sound that comes with it.
An early drive from London to North Yorkshire not only proved that the W12 never runs out of torque but also showed the true meaning of wafting. The smoothness interlaced with exceptional ride comfort felt, at times, as if I was almost floating.
Ride comfort – crucial for a GT – never failed, and on a lengthy French road trip, not once was I uncomfortable or fidgety. The Bentley has become the benchmark for comfort in all cars I drive. After much playing with Bentley’s four driving modes – Sport was too hard for me and Comfort meant not-quite-right wheel control – I concluded that the ‘Bentley’ mode was perfect, and presumably why it was created.
It wasn’t until I’d racked up a few hundred miles in the car that I came to notice one of the Conti’s subtler technologies – the intelligent coasting system, which predicts a gear and engine control based on the road ahead or speed limits, for example. For me, this is a perfect example of clever, understated technology that helps improve drivability and efficiency.
The looks of this third-generation Conti are what sells the car – and I found the styling grew and grew on me – but it’s inside that makes this car really special and, keeping in mind we had £50,000 worth of extras, you’d hope that was the case.
The £4700 rotating display remains a highlight, simply for being cool, although I rarely took it off the screen. It’s a bit of a gimmick but one that impressed every single person I showed it to. Other keepers were the £8095 Mulliner Driving Specification, which 80% of Conti buyers opt for and includes seat quilting, ‘diamond-in-diamond’ embroidery and Bentley emblems, plus our good-looking 21in alloy wheels.