In a grand touring car, style is paramount. And the Continental GT, with its long hood, bulging haunches around the back wheels, and glittering chr
In a grand touring car, style is paramount. And the Continental GT, with its long hood, bulging haunches around the back wheels, and glittering chrome, has it. A car like this doesn’t come cheaply, but on the Bentley price scale, it’s affordable. Prices start at about $215,000, which is in line with competing models from brands like Ferrari and Aston Martin.
As in all Bentleys, the interior is a vault filled with fine leather, gorgeous wood and shining metal. The front seats are supremely comfortable. The back seats less so, but this two-door car isn’t made for passengers, anyway.
The Continental GT was the perfect car to start Bentley’s renaissance. It was beautiful with real presence, but it was also a car Rolls-Royce would never have made. This machine was clearly intended for the driver’s pleasure, not for the poor soul boxed into the backseat.
From both a visual and philosophical standpoint, the Continental GT has changed little over the years. Its basic proportions — it looks fast but comfortably beefy at the same time — remain so distinctive it would take a keen observer to tell the first Continental GT from the last. The new car adds some extra creases that give the body more depth and texture. The grill is also wider and worn even more proudly.
Inside, Bentley designers were challenged with bringing modern technology into the cabin without garishly destroying the Jazz Age ambiance. That required a bit of trickery akin to hiding a flat screen TV behind a bookcase. In the center of the dashboard is a clever three-sided box. On one side, there’s a wood panel with a chrome stripe that blends right in with the rest of the dashboard. On another side, there are three dials, none of which impart critical information but they look retro-sporty. On the third side is a computer screen showing maps, stereo controls, phone controls and such, just like you have on most cars these days. The box flips around to display whichever side you’d like to see. Most of us will probably just leave the computer screen up because, let’s face it, it’s 2018 not 1938, but give Bentley credit for giving us the option to get away from yet another screen if we want.
The Continental GT is at its best doing what a Grand Touring car should do. It drives quickly and comfortably, covering lots of miles in as little time as possible. That 626-horsepower, 6.0-liter turbocharged 12-cylinder makes a sweet sound. Using a simple dial you can set the car to Sport or Comfort mode. In Comfort mode, it rides smoothly down long straight roads while Sport mode is for tearing along a twisting road at high speed. The steering is more direct and the suspension firmer.
There’s also the “B” mode for “Bentley.” It’s the Goldilocks setting, just in the middle, and it’s perfect. On a twisting, hilly road north of New York City I was unhappy with the Continental GT in Sport mode. The car felt jittery and a bit nervous, like I was asking it to be something it just, essentially, wasn’t: a sports car. Finally, I set the knob to “B” and, together, the Continental GT and I found one another. Rounding turns at a comfortable clip, with the steering and suspension a little more relaxed, I could have driven all day. (One can also customize suspension, steering and gas pedal response individually.) The Continental GT felt at peace with itself when not pushed too hard.