Since its introduction in the early 2000s the Bentley Continental GT has been a runaway success and, following a few facelifts during the intervening years, this new version successfully reinvigorates the coupe’s appeal with a raft of changes that catapult it to the top of the class. The latest model’s styling grabs the eye, while the fabulously luxurious and lavishly equipped interior feels a cut above anything else you can buy for the money. Throw in a thoroughly reworked driving experience that – courtesy of a new chassis shared with the Porsche Panamera – brings a thrilling level of responsiveness, plus Bentley’s muscular 4.0-litre V8 or 6.0-litre W12 engines, and the recipe for the world’s greatest GT car is complete.
The luxury ‘grand touring’ coupe market has always offered an array of drool-worthy exotics, and the latest Bentley Continental GT arrives in a marketplace with some formidable rivals. A four-seat cabin and £150k-plus price point throw the Conti GT into battle with the Aston Martin DB11 coupe, the (£50k more expensive) Ferrari GTC4 Lusso, the Mercedes-AMG GT and S-Class coupes, the Maserati GranTurismo and Porsche 911.
It’s a critical model for Bentley, and follows in the footsteps of a predecessor that earned unprecedented sales success for the marque. It was the first model developed under VW Group ownership when Bentley split from Rolls-Royce in 1998, and it brought the Bentley brand to the attention of a new breed of customer far removed from the traditional ‘English gent’ who had previously typified Bentley owners.
The first generation Continental GT arrived in 2003, and a revised version arrived in 2011. That makes this the third-generation Continental GT, and it’s a step-change in technology and driving performance from its predecessors.
First-generation cars were based around a VW Phaeton platform, with a four-wheel-drive system and turbocharged version of that car’s W12 engine. Now, however, the new version sits on a platform shared with the Porsche Panamera, with Bentley engineers helping to specify the platform’s spec from the start.
The Continental GT is available with two engines: a 6.0 W12 that’s a further development of the unit launched in the Bentayga and a 4.0-litre V8 that’s similar to that found in other VW Group cars like the Porsche Panamera.
There’s also a Continental GT Convertible, boasting a fabric roof that can fold in just 19 seconds at speeds of up to 30mph. Bentley revealed a Continental GT3 racing car in 2018, which may herald the arrival of a road-going GT3 variant in due course.