Cars in this class put the ‘super’ in super-GT in various and interesting ways, and the Continental GT has relied principally on refined, longstriding luxury to do that thus far.

But when you feel the new car’s turn of speed – and hear the new-found edge to the bark of its W12 engine – you’ll begin to understand that change is afoot in how this car defines itself.

Simon Davis

Simon Davis

Road tester
The manner in which this 2.3-tonne behemoth takes off will never cease to amaze me. There’s a huge amount of traction off the line, and that initial surge of acceleration is mighty.

No longer, you suspect, is Bentley willing to play second fiddle to Aston Martin, Mercedes-AMG or any other maker of big GT coupés in any comparison of bald acceleration.

And, for the time being, it needn’t.

On a slightly moist track, driving from all four corners and perfectly governed by its launch control system, the Continental GT needed just 3.6sec to hit 60mph from rest and less than 3sec to go from 30mph to 70mph through the gears.

It was quicker in both respects than the DB11 V12 we benchmarked in 2016, quicker than the Continental GT3-R tested the year before and within a tenth or two of the last Porsche 911 GT3 RS we figured, a car that’s 749kg lighter than the Bentley as tested.

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The car’s acceleration never feels violent or savage, though, and remains more impressive for the kind of huge and assured mid-range torque that makes 2.3 tonnes of bulk seem inconsequential under power.

Even so, this accelerator pedal is one you squeeze rather than snap open, partly to avoid unleashing greater force from that engine than you really need, but also because there’s still a softness to the powertrain’s pedal response that rewards smooth input.

At high range, the engine revs more freely than it used to but still has a hint of laziness about its delivery above 4500rpm, the transmission upshifting automatically at 6200rpm even in manual mode. Be smooth, though, and the powerplant gives you supreme smoothness back, which is entirely the point.

The double-glazed Continental GT has first-rate cabin sealing (registering at a 50mph cruise 6dB less cabin noise than that of a DB11 V12) and a transmission so suave that you won’t miss the car’s old torque-converter ‘slushmatic’.

All up, this powertrain has a broader spread of abilities than any W12 Continental GT before it and typically long, fine cruising legs, but it’s still not as likely to hit exciting high notes as some of its rivals.

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