The Bentley Continental GT is as luxurious as a Rolls-Royce but faster and a lot more fun to drive. Unfortunately, this winning combination does not come cheap
As its name implies, the Bentley Continental GT is a car that’s designed to carry its passengers across continents in as relaxed a manner as possible. It’s fun to drive, quick, comfortable and feels very luxurious inside.
For the third of those points, you can thank an interior that’s crammed full of more leather and wood than you’ll find in gentleman’s club in Mayfair. Cold-to-the-touch chrome buttons and knobs feel expensive and, if you choose to add Bentley’s extremely expensive revolving dash option, the 12.3-inch infotainment display can be swapped for old-school dials or hidden behind a large slab of wood completely at the touch of a button if you’d rather preserve the traditional feel.
As well as being plusher, the interior is also more spacious than in a Ferrari or Aston Martin. Up front, there’s loads of room even if you’re tall, two adults can sit in the back for short journeys and the boot is large enough for two big suitcases or one set of golf clubs. We’d wager that last point will be extremely important for many of the Continental’s buyers.
Driving the Bentley Continental GT feels a bit like popping to the shops in a rocket-propelled country mansion
Thankfully, this practicality has not come at the expense of performance – the Continental GT’s 6.0-litre, 635hp W12 engine has no shortage of thrust. It’ll officially get you from 0-60mph in just 3.7 seconds (although we managed to go a smidge quicker in 3.6 seconds) and hit a staggering 207mph flat out if you can find a long and legal enough stretch of Tarmac.
On the road, that means you can fly past long queues of traffic with power in reserve – but while the car won’t break sweat, you might when you realise how quickly it can guzzle fuel. Expect to achieve mpg in the low 20s when taking it easy, and much less if you’re, let’s say, enthusiastic.
More surprising, though, is how nimble it feels in corners. The Bentley’s sharp steering and well contained body lean make it an easy car to drive on fast A-roads, but it’s equally comfortable cruising on the motorway.
You can choose from three driving modes – Comfort, Sport and Bentley – and it’s the third option that suits the car best. Bentley mode sharpens the engine’s responses, while keeping the suspension soft and compliant enough to soak up bumps and patchy road surfaces.
Whichever mode you choose, the Bentley never feels intimidating to drive thanks to its grippy four-wheel-drive system and powerful brakes. That said, guiding its huge body down tight country lanes and past oncoming traffic can be a little nerve-racking, even with reassurance that the Bentley’s standard automatic emergency braking technology should save you from prangs at lower speeds.
You’ll find the Bentley’s a much easier proposition in town, where the eight-speed automatic gearbox gives your left leg a rest in stop-start traffic and parking is easy thanks to a variety of electronic aids and cameras.