Continental appeal

The interiors of the new Continental boast luxurious upholstery and more chrome surfaces.
The interiors of the new Continental boast luxurious upholstery and more chrome surfaces. PHOTOS: BENTLEY
The interiors of the new Continental boast luxurious upholstery and more chrome surfaces.
The interiors of the new Continental boast luxurious upholstery and more chrome surfaces.PHOTOS: BENTLEY

Bentley's Continental GT coupes and GTC convertibles have been updated with more bling in the cabin and on-board Wi-Fi

Bentley has updated its entire line-up of Continental GT coupes and GTC convertibles.

But it is a little disappointing that the British marque improved only the GT's standard 6-litre W12 motor.

Cylinder deactivation, as applied in the newer V8s, has helped the twin-turbocharged 12-cylinder reduce fuel consumption by 5 per cent, while a remap of the engine's ECU has netted modest gains of 15bhp and 20Nm.

The Continental GT range starts with the 500bhp/660Nm V8 and graduates to the 521bhp/680Nm V8 S. The range-topping GT Speed offers 626bhp and 820Nm from its souped-up 6-litre W12 motor.

With Bentley, styling updates are usually subtle, so as not to date the outgoing models. Look closely and you might spot the changes made to the fenders (more pronounced and with redesigned vents), radiator grille (which has a smaller outer frame), boot lid (more sculpted) and rear bumper (now with a full-width chrome strip).

Completing the subtle restyle are new 20-inch and 21-inch wheels, and three new paintwork choices - Marlin (rich blue), Jetstream (light blue) and Camel (soft golden tone).

  • SPECS/BENTLEY CONTINENTAL GT V8 S 4.0

    Price with COE: On application

    Engine: 3,993cc 32-valve V8 turbocharged

    Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with manual select

    Power: 521bhp at 6,000rpm

    Torque: 680Nm at 1,700rpm

    0-100kmh: 4.5 seconds

    Top speed: 309kmh

    Fuel consumption: 10.7 litres/ 100km

    Agent: Bentley Singapore

  • SPECS/BENTLEY CONTINENTAL GT SPEED 6.0

    Price with COE: On application

    Engine: 5,998cc 48-valve W12 turbocharged

    Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with manual select

    Power: 626bhp at 6,000rpm

    Torque: 820Nm at 2,000rpm

    0-100kmh: 4.2 seconds

    Top speed: 331kmh

    Fuel consumption: 14.6 litres/ 100km

    Agent: Bentley Singapore

As expected of Bentley, most of the wow factor is inside the cabin, which neatly blends the best values of the old and new automotive worlds.

Bentley's artisans have created lovely new materials, with one of the loveliest being the "straight- flute" upholstery for the big seats.

To give the interior more bling, the stylists have used a lot more chrome and mirror-polished metal surfaces. There is also a new steering wheel, whose knurled-metal paddle-shifters have been made larger than before.

Catering to the surge of tech- savvy Bentley owners, on-board Wi-Fi is now available in every Continental model.

When I tested the updated Continental GTs in Oslo, the Norwegian mountain roads were wet in places because of intermittent rainfall.

I was glad that the cars come with full-time all-wheel-drive, because piloting anything with this much power and without 4x4 grip around the many hairpin turns could be dangerous.

In the dry, the 626bhp 6-litre W12 GT Speed uses its all-wheel-drive system to the greatest advantage, charging from a standstill to 100kmh in 4.2 seconds and reaching an impressive 331kmh.

The 582bhp W12 GT takes 4.5 seconds to complete the same run, with the 521bhp 4-litre V8 S keeping pace until both cars charge past 300kmh.

Even the "base" 500bhp 4-litre V8 GT slips under five seconds for the 0-100kmh sprint and hits a top speed of 305kmh.

As far as straight-line performance goes, there is no doubt the GT Speed is the quickest car in the Continental collection. But throw in a tortuous mountain road as an equaliser and the V8 S jumps into contention.

It is lighter by 25kg, better balanced and, with "less" engine over the front axle, more agile at the same time. Moreover, there is a naughty, "un-Bentley" side to the car, thanks to its V8 exhaust roar, replete with crackles and burbles.

Of course, the W12-powered Continental GTs are even more refined than their V8 siblings.

If ultimate refinement is of paramount importance to you, go for the W12 versions. If you want great refinement plus even greater performance, go for the W12 GT Speed.

The slow pace of styling changes to Bentley's Continental GT family has given it an evergreen appeal, much like Porsche's 911 design.

Having a variety of V8 and W12 engines ensures that different tastes are satisfied, while the motorsport success of the Continental GT3 appeals to a younger (multimillionaire) demographic in the market for a new V8 Ferrari and gives the Bentley brand added street credibility.

•The writer is a regular contributor to Torque, a motoring monthly published by SPH Magazines.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2016, with the headline 'Continental appeal'. Print Edition | Subscribe