2020 Bentley Continental GT Is Everything A Luxury Grand Tourer Should Be
Amy Plemons | March 26, 2020
What a difference a few weeks makes. Less than three weeks ago, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S., I arrived at Bentley Dallas one afternoon to drive the 2020 Bentley Continental GT and 2020 Bentayga Speed, the fastest production SUV in the world. Two exquisite vehicles that define power, luxury and expert craftsmanship.
It was as normal a day as they come. The roads were busy with traffic and the skies above were blue, a welcoming sight after a previous day of rain. As I pulled into the Bentley Dallas lot the Continental GT and Bentayga Speed glimmered under the sun in the parking lot. I couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel.
Soon, thereafter, I met with Bentley Dallas Sales Experience Manager Chris Fine who then expertly guided me through both models, with incredible knowledge and passion for the brand. The Continental GT is what I’ll focus on here.
Let me just say upfront the Continental GT had me at hello. Sleek, sculpted and absolutely stunning in Caspian Blue, it is one gorgeous luxury grand tourer. The crystal-cut diamond headlights catch the light like a diamond, a pattern echoed throughout the interior. A luxurious, leather-filled and multi-toned interior that is exquisite, the result of expert and detailed craftsmanship. 20-way power and massage front seats with signature Bentley quilting are so comfortable you don’t ever want to leave them.
Wood veneer paneling and quality trims abound. You’ll even spot bronze inserts between surfaces on the primary controls. The tachometer is completely digital with navigation. A very cool feature is an optional Bentley rotating display. Say you want a more traditional look, and don’t want to see the 12.3-inch high-resolution multimedia touchscreen (Bentley’s largest ever.) The screen will rotate to reveal a wood veneered panel that displays analog dials: a compass, temp gauge and chronograph timer. The tachometer is completely digital. The “B” logo’d gear shift is special, too. Fine tells me that because it is Bentley’s Centennial, there is gold trim around the “B”. Fine says every Centennial Edition Bentley will feature gold around every “B” on the car both outside and inside and including the puddle lamps.
A panoramic fixed glass sunroof is a new and welcome addition to the Continental GT. And guys I can’t say enough about the optional top-of-the-line Naim 2,200 Watt 18-speaker system audio system with Active Bass Transducers built into the front seats. It is outstanding. It’s one of three audio systems offered.
Bentley Dallas’ Chris Fine shows us some highlights of the exterior and the W12 under the bonnet. It’s the first production car ever to have an entire body side made from the Super Formed process. During the process, aluminum is heated to 500 degrees Celsius which allows designers to give it more sharply defined body lines and deeper, sculpted haunch muscles.
This Continental GT sports Mulliner 22” directional alloys, but 21” wheels are standard. As for the elliptical exhausts in back, they serve a dual engineering purpose. They have a complex perforated sleeve which adds visual detail but also reduces the exhaust temperature.
Now let’s get to its ride and drive and I’ll say this: I’ve never driven anything that delivers such power coupled with a buttery smooth, refined ride in my life. The Continental GT’s 6.0L W12 delivers a magnificent 626-horsepower and there is no denying the power I felt as I headed down the Dallas North Tollway. The W12 is mated to an 8-speed dual clutch transmission, one that Fine says is pretty much the PDK gearbox you find in the Porsche Panamera. (A V8 engine is also available.)
The handling on the third-generation Continental GT is amazing thanks to a 48-volt Dynamic Ride System that gives you incredible, responsive control and exceptional handling. Bentley says the system controls and adjusts the electronic actuators on the anti-roll bar of each axle and so improves handling and ride comfort, as well as making the car feel lighter and more precise. The Continental GT uses its rear-wheel drive as much as possible for normal driving but also has an all-new Active All-Wheel-Drive System that adjusts the front-to-rear torque split dependent upon the driving situation.
Fun fact: ‘W’ means that the engine is 24 percent shorter than an equivalent V12, benefitting weight distribution and maximizing usable cabin space.
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