Bentley Continental GT W12 2019 long-term review
It’ll devour countries for breakfast but how does it fare in regular, everyday life? Let’s see
Why we’re running it: To see if the third-generation Continental GT rules the roost as the ultimate grand tourer
Life with a Continental GT: Month 1
Direct competitor makes its presence felt – 12th June 2019
Our Bentley met its most direct rival: another hand-finished British grand tourer with 12 cylinders and more than 600bhp. The Continental GT and the Aston Martin DB11 AMR also cost not dissimilar money. The Bentley feels more luxurious, more refined, although it’s heavier and less agile. The verdict? Watch the video on our website to find out.
Welcoming the Continental GT to the fleet – 5th June 2019
When Bentley revealed its third-generation Continental GT in late 2017, it promised “a paradigm shift in driving performance”. In layman’s terms: the Crewe-based maker wanted to get the attention of those buyers typically devoted to a certain Stuttgart marque not named Mercedes…
The aim, beyond captivating Porsche buyers, was to appeal to both loyal and new customers and be “even more agile without compromising luxury”, helped by a new chassis, suspension, W12 engine and dual-clutch eight-speed gearbox. Given that the Continental remains Bentley’s second biggest seller – outranked only by the successful Bentayga SUV (just) – it’s not a formula to mess with. Bentley is set to sell 12,000 cars in 2019, an increase of 2000 over last year, and 5000 of those will be Continentals, of which 500 will be in the UK.
And for all of Bentley’s desire to attract younger, more sports car-orientated owners, let’s be honest: a large proportion of these cars will be bought by those already familiar with the Continental formula. There’s no official Continental customer profile but, anecdotally, UK buyers tend to be in their 50s and male.
Bentley’s intentions for the latest Conti have succeeded – to an extent – according to our road test. We gave it 4.5 stars and said it retained all the “lavishness, top-level luxury and first-order touring refinement” of its predecessor while halving the gap between that second-gen car and the best handling cars in the super-GT niche. The Aston Martin DB11 V12 nudged just ahead in our rankings.
As well as the introduction of the impressive DB11 since the previous-gen Conti, the (much pricier) Rolls-Royce Wraith and Ferrari 812 Superfast have arrived. The new McLaren GT will also enter the mix. We’ve racked up some miles on the Continent in a Continental, when Andrew Frankel completed a mammoth 24-hour drive through 15 countries. In his sign-off, he noted: “I sat in that Bentley for an entire day and emerged without the smallest ache, and there can be no better measure of a car called Continental.” All of which bodes well for our next adventure in Bentley’s grand tourer…
I’m running a W12 Continental for three months to see what it’s like to live with day to day. I can’t pretend I have the house or garage of a typical Continental buyer – given that those I’ve met have upwards of three cars – but I will be doing some serious mile-munching and seeing if what appears an incredibly luxurious interior translates to usability, ease and comfort day in and day out. This is a chance for the Continental to prove its standing as the ultimate grand tourer in the comfort stakes, with an extra dose of dynamic driveability thrown in.
Now, the mind-blowing numbers. The 6.0-litre W12 engine produces 626bhp at 6000rpm and delivers 664lb ft of torque between 1350rpm and 4500rpm. Our acceleration tests achieved a 0-60mph time of 3.5sec and 0-100mph in 8.1sec. If you care, claimed combined economy is 20.3mpg. On the upside, it has a generous 90-litre tank so you’ll get upwards of 400 miles on a fill unless you’re a total hooligan (which, I’d like to think, Bentley drivers aren’t).
The Continental is priced from £159,100, but our car comes to a costly sum of £208,765 taking into account £49,665 of options. We have a handful of so-called ‘specifications’. Touring (£6195) gives you features such as lane assist, adaptive cruise control and heads-up display; City (£3960) includes a top-view camera, reverse traffic warning and handsfree boot opening; and Mood Lighting (£1490) does what it says on the tin.
Our most pricey extra is the Mulliner Driving Specification, at £8095. That doesn’t put off buyers: 80% of Continental GTs have this option and you can see why. It gives the interior an extra dose of the luxury you want in a Bentley. It includes quilted seats, embroidered Bentley emblems, sports pedals and diamond embroidery. Mulliner spec has 22in wheels as standard but you can go for 21s, as we have, for better ride comfort.
By far my favourite interior gimmick is Bentley’s rotating display in the central dashboard, in which you can alternate between a 12.3in screen or three traditional circular dials. When the engine is turned off, a third face sits flush to the rest of the dash design. It’s a £4700 option and two-thirds of buyers go for it. The other particularly expensive option on our car is the ‘Naim for Bentley’ audio system, at £6500. Apparently, 40% of buyers opt for this set-up. All in all, we have 19 options. The bargain? A £250 air ioniser.
The first thing that strikes you about the Continental is its sheer presence inside and out. While it still looks like a Continental, its more mature, sleek lines are a sizeable upgrade to my eyes. Inside, it’s opulence epitomised. But will those formidable first impressions last? Let’s find out.
I’ve yet to meet anyone who hasn’t loved being in a Bentley. But I also meet very few people who aspire to it. Part of the problem, I believe, is that few fully know what Bentley stands for. It’s arguably not as posh as a Rolls, nor as sporty as an Aston and thereby not as defined as either.
Bentley Continental GT W12 specification
Specs: Price New £159,100 Price as tested £208,765 Options Extended paint range £4500, Mulliner Driving Specification £8095, Touring Specification £6195, Front Seat Comfort Specification £3945, heated windscreen £480, heated steering wheel £750, deep pile overcast £350, Naim for Bentley audio system £6500, rotating display £4700, digital TV and radio tuner £965, inductive phone charger £280, parking heater with remote activation £1840, welcome home lighting £450, contrast stitching £1720, Côtes de Genève finish to centre console £1395, air ioniser £250, liquid amber over black veneer £1800, City Specification £3960, Mood Lighting Specification £1490
Test Data: Engine 5950cc, W12, twin-turbocharged petrol Power 616bhp at 6000rpm Torque 664lb ft at 1350-4500rpm Kerb weight 2244kg Top speed 207mph 0-62mph 3.7sec Fuel economy 23.2mpg CO2 278g/km Faults None Expenses None
Source: Autocar Online