In Review

Bentley Continental 2018: prices, specs and reviews

Critics hail a car described as ‘the best grand tourer in the world’

A long-awaited sequel to Bentley's luxury grand tourer, the Continental GT, is due to go on sale next year – and it’s already a hit with the critics. 

Unlike previous versions of the Continental over the past decade and a half, the 2018 model has been completely redesigned. It will be lighter and sportier than any of its predecessors.

It also comes with a cabin packed with technology and a revised engine that manages to balance power with a lower CO2 output to conform to the tightening emissions regulations. 

Here’s everything you need to know about the new grand tourer and what the critics think. 

Reviews 

The new Continental GT has taken five years to develop, says Auto Express, resulting in a car that could possibly be “the best grand tourer in the world”.

Its design is a “sizeable step on from the outgoing car”, the magazine adds, making the Continental GT look “closer to many of its two-door rivals in terms of outright road presence”. The new oval headlights make the car’s rear end look “better resolved, too”.

Grand tourers are better known for their ride comfort than precision handling, but Autocar says Bentley’s air suspension and new anti-roll system help keep the car’s “body movements in check”.

The steering is also impressive, the magazine says, allowing drivers to change the weight of it in different driving modes. However, it adds, the new Continental GT doesn’t quite match the agility of its rival, the Aston Martin DB11. 

Inside, GQ says the cabin possesses “one of the most hi-tech yet exquisitely hand-crafted interiors in the car world”. 

The car’s “crown jewel” is a rotating screen in the centre console, the mag says. This can display either the vehicle’s infotainment system or three traditional analogue dials. 

Despite having a sportier look than its predecessor, Top Gear says the new Continental “hasn’t forgotten what ‘grand tourer’ actually means”. It is, the site argues, among the best grand tourers on the market. 

Design

The new Continental GT has had some radical design changes that set it apart from the original 2003 grand tourer.

Its styling is derived from the Bentley EXP 10 Speed Six concept that first appeared at the 2015 Geneva motor show. The new car shares the concept's low front end and larger rectangular grille, as well as its thin tail lights and dual oval exhaust outlets.

Bentley has retained the muscular "haunches" that feature on the rear wheels of the previous car, says Auto Express, while the wheels themselves are a tweaked version of those found on the company's Bentayga SUV.

There are a few subtle differences between the new Continental GT and the Speed Six. The production car appears to have a taller roofline, while small metal air intakes replace the concept's large vents behind the front wheel arches. 

Interior

In the cabin, Car magazine says Bentley has fitted a "revision" of the previous car's dashboard with digital instruments. There's also an "all-new 12.3in touchscreen that revolves from behind a panel of wood veneer”.

"Like a fine suit, the Conti's interior can be tailored to your exacting specifications and uses quilted leather, whacking great panels of wood veneer and metal switchgear by the tonne," says the magazine.

It's also packed with technology. Car Buyer says drivers can enjoy features such as Apple CarPlay as well as a ten-speaker hi-fi system. Buyers can also spec a 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen unit or a 2,200-watt, 18-speaker system by Naim.

Engines and performance

Like the car it succeeds, the new Continental GT will be powered by a 6.0-litre twin-turbocharged W12 engine that delivers 626bhp and 664lb-ft, says Autocar.

 This is paired to a dual-clutch eight-speed automatic gearbox, the magazine says, that launches the 2,250kg grand tourer from 0-62mph in 3.7sec – 0.8sec faster than the outgoing model. 

While its motor is both big and powerful, Autocar says it's also compliant with the stricter Euro 6 engine regulations that limit the vehicle's emissions output. Bentley has achieved this by shutting down half of the engine's cylinders below 3,000rpm, helping it emit "278g/km of CO2" – an improvement of 16 per cent. 

More engines, including a V8 model, will appear in the future with Bentley's "cylinder deactivation" technology, says AutoExpress. There could even be a hybrid, too, but the magazine says Bentley "faces a challenge to introduce electrification to the car without altering its character too much”.

Price and release

Prices have yet to be announced for the new Continental, but Auto Express says the range-topping W12 version is expected to sell for around £156,000. Orders are open now, with deliveries due next year. 

Bentley unveils its new Continental GT3

10 November

Barely two months after taking the wraps off its road-going GT3 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Bentley has unveiled a racing car version of its forthcoming Continental. 

The competition car shares its basic silhouette with the production model, incorporating the same low front-end  design and coupe body shape.

But that’s where the similarities end. The GT3-spec racer sports a large rear wing and wider wheel arches to improve on-track grip. It also has a rear diffuser that’s more complex than the one on the older version of the racing car.  

Under the bonnet sits a 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 tuned by former F1 engine maker Cosworth, says Auto Express. The motor produces 550bhp in an unrestricted state, the magazine adds, but that figure could change when racing restrictions are enforced. 

Inside, the racing car is fitted with a roll cage and six-point harness seat belts, says Autocar. To enhance its performance, it’s been stripped of all the leather and electronics that come in the road car, meaning it has a kerb weight of just 1300kg, a saving of 950kg. 

The Continental GT3 will feature prominently in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup, the magazine says. Its first appearance is expected to be in Monza, Italy, on 28 April.

Bentley will open orders up to independent racing teams in June, the magazine says. 

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