Super GT: putting Bentley's new W12 Continental to the test
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Bentley New Zealand is celebrating not only a record 2018 but also the success of its Continental GT.
Bentley took out first place in the supercar segment, selling 53 vehicles last year, beating out Aston Martin with 48 vehicles sold.
With the Bentayga dominating sales for Bentley NZ, the four-seater Continental GT is set to attract more customers for the British brand.
The third-generation grand tourer has had a major redesign over the outgoing model, with new looks and technology, plus a number of firsts.
The major innovation is the use of the aviation industry’s superforming technology for the body. The system has aluminium heated to 500C, allowing designers to create more complex panels.
The Bentley is the first production car in the world to use the technique, with it implemented specifically and superbly on the new rear haunches of the Continental GT.
This technique also helps make it 80kg lighter than the previous model, to weigh in at 2244kg.
It also has an upgraded 6-litre twin-turbo, W12 engine and is paired with a new eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. The engine produces 467kW of power and 900Nm of torque and is also found in the Bentayga SUV.
It has a top speed of 333km/h hitting 0-100km/h in 3.7 sec.
The Conti GT has never been short on power and the two twin-scroll turbochargers make this vehicle fairly fly.
The GT is 4850mm long, 2187mm wide and 1405mm high, making it lower and longer than the previous model.
This has enabled the design team under Jean Paul Gregory to create a smaller, yet dynamic bonnet, and it the appearance of sitting low on its haunches — ready to pounce at traffic lights.
The vehicle’s exterior also gets a major overhaul. The jet fighter-looking rear of the Continental resembles the company’s 10 Speed 6 concept — thanks to Gregory being part of that vehicle’s design team.
Inside, the Continental has a revolutionary three-sided rotating display, nicknamed the Toblerone.
When you get in the car there is no screen, so it looks like a seamless dashboard. But once the engine is turned on, the display rotates to show the touchscreen or three analogue dials.
This component took two years of development work to perfect and features more than 40 parts, including two motors with individual high-precision gearboxes and cooling fans.
This is next level in infotainment and styling in the luxury segment. It also allows the architecture of the vehicle, rather than technology, to come to the fore.
You can flick it to three analogue dials, then on the cockpit screen choose the low display and suddenly all the multi-coloured satnav, speed and rev counter information disappear and you have a black screen with the speed and rev information just illuminated as a line.
Gregory had an ethos for the look of the Bentley Continental GT: “You fall in the love with the exterior, but the interior is like a marriage.”
And it’s true. The interior is like being in a five-star hotel suite, with understated luxury, and soft touches of leather.
We tested the GT W12 priced from $441,720 with such features as LED welcome lamps by Mulliner.
It also came with heated leather seats, but a friend has a 2018 Continental GT with heated, ventilated and massaging front seats. I was jealous but to get those options is going to cost you.
The four-seater coupe has a huge boot and works superbly as a tourer due to the interior space.
I took it on my usual testing circuit that included motorway, country roads, and winding tight corners.
I flicked between comfort and sport mode, and toggled through the gears via the steering wheel paddles. Those tight corners with ingress speed of 20km/h made me feel the 2244kg weight of the GT — reaffirming it’s not a sports coupe but a beast made for long trips.
So I did that. I headed on to the motorway and flicked back into sport mode, and here the GT came alive. It holds the gears long, giving you plenty of legs if you needed to overtake quickly.
Due to the four-wheel drive system, it’s also a smooth ride and handles any unusual bumps and lumps on the roads with ease.
It’s also a looker thanks to the exterior colour of onyx black and a dark interior.
I parked by a large inner Auckland luxury hotel and many tourists decided the Bentley was the focus of photographs rather than the Sky Tower.
Unlike some low-slung sports coupes, the Continental GT is easy to live with in everyday situations such as supermarket car park spots and daily commutes.
2019 Bentley Continental GT
Engine: 6-litre twin-turbo W12 (467KW/900NM)
Pros: Genuine tourer
Cons: Expensive extras