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New Bentley Continental GT: 626bhp of British opulence explored

Bentley calls the new Continental GT the ‘definitive grand tourer’, which could well be true. But what is new, how fast can it go and what does it look like? Recombu Cars goes all decadent to find out.

The third-generation Bentley Continental GT is yet to make it into the hands of motoring journalists, but the British marque is already confident enough to call it the ‘definitive grand tourer’. A bold claim, indeed.

You, too, would probably would be that confident after more than 70,000 sales since its launch in 2003, earning itself the title of the biggest-selling Bentley ever. Quality and quantity in one highly lucrative bundle – it’s the dream for most manufacturers.

For all of its brilliance though, the outgoing ‘Conti’ (as it’s known internally and to the kids) was starting to show its age ─ particularly where the interior technology stuff is concerned. But a fresh start is what the new model aims to set in motion, with years of hindsight at the ready.

Interestingly, the first-generation Continental GT was the first Bentley to arrive under the ownership of VW, and this is why another member of the group, Porsche, provides the chassis ─ at least, before being heavily modified to suit its grander application.

So what else do we know about the 2018 Bentley Continental GT? Well, let us enlighten you with the top speed, power output, 0-62mph time, top speed, interior and exterior changes and other all-important details. And, of course, photos aplenty.

1) All-new Bentley Continental GT: The engine

The current Continental GT has a V8 and W12 option, but initially you can only have the former. That means 6.0-litres of twin-turbo thunder, which for the first time will be mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic.

The W12 TSI has been enhanced to provide 626bhp and 664lb/ft of torque, which helps propel it from 0-62mph in a mere 3.7 seconds and then give up on gaining speed at 207mph.

Not only is it faster, in part thanks to a ‘Sport Launch’ mode, it manages to be 16 per cent more CO2 efficient, at 278g/km. It is also more fuel efficient (23.2mpg, up from 19.9), thanks to being able to shut off six-cylinders when taking it steady (hence the TSI bit of the name).

Bentley says the new Continental GT will be able to travel more than 500 miles on a single tank of fuel, assuming you keep the W12 TSI from working too hard. Which will be never.

A V8 is also on the cards and that could prove more able in the handling department if the current model is anything to go by, as is a hybrid for those who want to be a little more green without losing any of the luxury a Bentley provides.

2) All-new Bentley Continental GT: The interior design

There is a lot to talk about in this area, but we can only start with the fact Bentley claims there is more than 10-square metres of wood in each Continental GT and that it takes nine hours to create and fit it all as wooden inlays by hand.

The centre console can be finished – for the first time in the automotive world apparently – in a delicate mechanical surfacing that is said to be inspired by the finest automatic Swiss watches.

Bronze inserts, meanwhile, have been added between the surfaces of the primary controls while the seats, complete with 20-way adjustability, offer cooling, heating and massage functionality so you can only ever be perfectly content.

In essence, then, the new Bentley Continental GT is even more lavish and fresher than ever, which will help justify its eye-watering price tag and stand up against more recent competitors.

3) All-new Bentley Continental GT: The exterior design

Taking design cues from the stunning Exp 10 Speed 6 design concept, the new Bentley Continental GT has a new design that is a little curvier and more elegant than before, yet it still retains a grille larger than some football stadiums so nobody will ever mistake it for anything else.

At the back is a quieter, less shouty posterior you could accuse of being rather like the Audi A7 Sportback, but then that is a good thing because few cars have such a recognisable back-end.

In using a new body, more than 80kg has been saved in weight. Speaking of which, the entire body side is created using what Bentley calls the ‘super formed’ process, which involves heating aluminium to 500-degrees for more complex detailing.

Then there are the new Matrix LED headlights, which use internal surfaces to make them catch the light like a diamond, 21-inch or 22-inch alloys, the latter of which is of the sportier forged variety, and elliptical exhausts that now have a perforated sleeve to keep the heat under control.

17 exterior paintjobs with up to 70 different hues will be available, as well as 15 luxurious carpets, eight hand-crafted veneers (and another four dual-veneer options) and 15 interior trim hides. So you can really make the new Conti yours. For a price.

4) All-new Bentley Continental GT: Tested to perfection?

Nearly one million kilometres (620,000 miles) have gone into testing the new Continental GT, ranging from hot weather in South Africa and Death Valley in America to driving on frozen lakes in Sweden where it routinely drops comfortably (or should that be uncomfortably?) below zero. So, in theory, it should keep on trucking without breaking a sweat.

5) All-new Bentley Continental GT: The tech stuff

To bring Bentley’s latest creation into the 21st century and on a par with the more recent Bentayga SUV, the new Continental GT features Apple CarPlay but not Android Auto (rich people only use iPhones, didn’t you get the memo?).

It also features Bentley’s largest ever display, at 12.3-inches in size, that slides out of the dashboard in grand fashion. The home screen can be customised with functions chosen by the driver so there is little need to faff once setup.

Three sound systems are available. The ‘entry-level’ 10-speaker offering has 650w while the Bang & Olufsen 16-speaker beast pumps out 1,500w and can be controlled by the new BeoSonic system, which allows the tone settings to be adjusted using a one-touch interface.

Atop the range is a 2,200w Naim system comprised two further speakers and two Active Bass Transducers built into the front seats. If nobody can hear the W12 TSI coming, they sure as hell will hear your music tastes.

6) All-new Bentley Continental GT: Ride & handling

Bentley has fitted the new Conti with what it calls Dynamic Ride, which is marketing speak for a 48-volt roll control system that uses electronic actuators on the anti-roll bar of each axle to adjust the ride with both comfort and handling in mind.

The air suspension system has been revised and now can offer 60 per cent more air volume than before in its softest setting, which has allowed Bentley engineers to really fine-tune the level of comfort.

Then there is Continuous Damping Control (CDC) in its latest form, which works hard to adjust the air volume in the springs to keep the Bentley smooth and capable of going round a corner without any fuss. In short, it should be more sporty and more comfortable.

As for braking, 15mm larger discs on the front axle take the total to 420mm and provide even greater stopping power. The sort a gigantic 626bhp hunk of metal deserves or, more specifically, needs.

7) All-new Bentley Continental GT: Customisation galore

Besides the shopping list of colour and material options, buyers can also specify up to two technology packs, one of which adds hands-free boot opening and autonomous emergency braking at city speeds, while the other offers adaptive cruise control and a head-up display.

Meanwhile ticking the ‘Mulliner Driving Specification’ box adds the aforementioned 22-inch forged alloys, a jewelled-finish fuel filler, sports pedals, embroidered Bentley emblems, diamond in diamond quilting and the option of personalised stitching in the front and rear of the car.

8) All-new Bentley Continental GT: Eco-credentials

Bentley’s Crewe factory is never going to be hugely responsible for global warming because of the relatively small production volumes, but it is good to know 40 per cent of its electricity needs are met by 20,815 panels stuck to the 34,500 square metres of roof space.

In doing so, Bentley contributes 2,500 fewer tonnes of CO2 per year, which is the equivalent of more than 10 average cars driving constantly for 365 days a year. Not too shabby.

9) All-new Bentley Continental GT: The price

While there is no official word on a price, you can expect to pay at least £150,000 before you add any extras or get a bit picky with the vast array of colour options. Expect to start seeing the new Continental GT on driveways from around Q1 of 2018.

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