Bentley Continental GT 2020: Old English style meets supercar substance
The new model has raised the bar for the hand-crafted British grand tourer
The 2020 Bentley Continental GT is proof that sometimes rationalising does work for a bespoke manufacturer, because, while on the surface what you see is a bespoke, hand-crafted British grand tourer, underneath it’s an entirely different story.
After 15 years running the previous Continental GT, Bentley started to fall behind the competition in terms of modern build methods that saved weight, time and money, not to mention the advent of many driver aid technologies such as lane guidance, self-parking and blind spot assistance that have crept into the market in the meantime.
A new Continental GT was sorely needed to keep its place at the top of the grand touring tree and, being part of the VW empire, there was plenty of expertise from the various branches of Audi, Porsche, Volkswagen, Lamborghini and Bugatti to lean on.
The result is a car that still shouts old English money with all the Bentley touch points of timber, chrome and leather wrapped in a sleek yet traditional shape dominated by the legendary grille. But what lies underneath is closer to Porsche than the previous Continental GT as it rides on a platform that’s not only shared with the new Bentley Flying Spur but also the Porsche Panamera.
It’s a one-size-fits-all platform designed for the VW Group’s large, front-engined and rear or all-wheel drive cars that has transformed the Conti GT from a classy boulevard cruiser, which, admittedly, had plenty of go, to a proper, long-distance, high-speed luxury performance car worthy of any comparison against similar performance options from Ferrari or Aston Martin.
It can also add race winner to the mix after it took victory last month in the gruelling Bathurst 12-Hour enduro in Australia where it outpaced the likes of the Porsche 911 GT3, Aston Martin Vantage, Ferrari 488 GT3 and McLaren 570S to take the chequered flag.
The Continental GT has been a huge success for Bentley with more than 66,000 units of the previous version sold,. This new iteration continues the theme in a lighter, faster, more technically advanced and efficient, yet still supremely luxurious version.
Under the hood resides a 626 brake horsepower, six-litre, W12 twin-turbo engine that appears familiar but is very different from those in previous Bentleys. Debuted in the Bentayga, this W12 motor has not only shed 30 kilograms but has also been radically re-engineered with the front drive shafts punching through the sump to make it fit into the smaller engine bay and coupled to a new ZF transmission.
The interior retains all the hallmarks from Bentley’s history, but it has managed to give it a 2020 makeover
It uses a new injection system and its two turbos have also been upgraded to twin-scroll units and it features cylinder displacement, which shuts down six-cylinders when cruising. This helps it to achieve a stated 16 per cent better fuel economy with a range of 800 kilometres and even after more than 600km of running around we saw better than 13 L/100kms average.
The transmission is an eight-speed ZF unit that uses Porsche’s PDK double-clutch set-up that’s been tweaked to handle the W12’s 900Nm of torque. On road it provided rapid shifting that was close to seamless through its eight cogs.
The twin-scroll turbos eliminate all lag as the surge of power felt virtually limitless and despite its portly 2,244kg, Bentley claims it will get to 100 kilometres per hour in 3.7 seconds and on to 333kmh.
The engineers have worked miracles to keep its weight down. The result is that it steers and points like no other Bentley we’ve driven with a lightness and finesse through the steering you would normally find, not surprisingly, in a Porsche.
The interior retains all the hallmarks from Bentley’s history, but it has managed to give it a 2020 makeover with a stylish new take using two-tone timber highlights that gives the cabin a lighter, airy feel. A new 12.3-inch navigation screen can be hidden behind an optional panel that rotates to show either a trio of analogue dials or continues the clean timber look while the ambient mood lighting includes razor thin LED strips across the dash and down the doors into the rear to mimic the outside’s curvy hipline. There’s also more interior room.
The Bentley Continental GT was in need of a make-over and with this new model it has not only done that, but shifted it into a new realm of high-performance tourer.
Updated: March 12, 2020 11:53 AM