After essentially reinventing Bentley after its introduction in 2002, the automaker's Continental GT has become something of an icon among high-end super luxury coupes. Bentley chose the ever-popular "evolution over revolution" mantra for the redesigned Continental GT and GTC Convertible- with one twist: A nod to ever-stricter emissions standards.
Slotting beneath Bentley's W12-powered Continental range, a new 4.0-liter V8 model promises much improved fuel economy while retaining most of the 12-cylinder's power. Bentley says the eight-cylinder is good for 500 horsepower and 487 lb-ft of torque, falling just short of the W12's 567 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque.
Paired with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, the V8 is capable of propelling the heavy coupe to a 4.6-second zero-to-60 sprint and a top speed in excess of 180 mph. Fuel economy comes in at 15 city, 24 highway miles per gallon.
Although the V8-equipped Continental GT is technically the range's entry-level vehicle, Bentley isn't treating it as such. V8 models come fitted with a unique black gloss matrix grille with chrome frame and center bar, a red enamel Bentley 'B' badge, and a black matrix three-segment lower front bumper divided by distinctive body-color strakes. Out back, the car gets unique chromed 'figure eight' exhaust tailpipes, a dark lower valance and a red enamel 'B' trunklid badge.
The V8 model comes standard with 20-inch wheels, but a bespoke, 21-inch wheel package is also available. Inside the V8 model gets an Eliade cloth headlining, new contemporary Dark Fiddleback Eucalyptus veneers and optional two-tone leather.
W12 Lives On
For Bentley traditionalists, however, the W12 returns, boasting 6.0-liters, twin turbochargers and 567 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. Lighter than the outgoing model thanks to some material changes throughout, the revised W12 sprints to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds.
It sends power to all four wheels via a new six-speed automatic capable of delivering gear-skipping double downshifts for improved response. Fuel economy is rated at 12 mpg in the city and 19 mpg on the highway.
The Continental GT's all-wheel-drive system has also been revised. Sending power to an increased width track, the system now splits 40 percent of the power to the front wheels and 60 percent to the rear to reduce understeer. New 20 and 21-inch alloy wheels are available.
Outside, the Continental GT gains new jeweled headlamps with LED running lights, a revised front grille and some tweaking to the outgoing car's bodylines. The body is heavily revised from before despite a similar appearance.
Inside, the interior was treated to a thorough refresh centered around a sweeping dashboard and instrument panel finished in premium, soft-touch leather hides. New front and rear seats improve comfort, Bentley says, while new touchscreen, 30GB infotainment system introduces advanced satellite navigation with dynamic route guidance, seven-digit postcode entry and Google Map compatibility for certain North American, Asian and European markets.
The audio systems feature the latest wide frequency Balance Mode Radiator speakers as standard, as well as Dirac Dimensions DSP for exceptional sound reproduction (Naim for Bentley premium audio).
In terms of price, image and sheer luxuriousness, the Continental GT is a bit unique - but don't be surprised to see the big Bentley compared with the Audi R8, BMW 6-Series or one of many Porsche 911 Carrera models.