We can refer to a period in Bentley’s history as BC: Before Continental. The original Conti GT was so important – not only in terms of sales but also in terms of establishing a template and tone for the entire company – that you might easily argue that Bentley would not exist today if it weren’t for the two-door coupe.
What is the most popular luxury car in contemporary times? Almost certainly. It’s now on to the second generation.
While the Bentayga SUV makes the big money elsewhere in the range, is the new Conti GT, at least in profile, is a lovely car, with the front wheels, pushed forward to enhance weight distribution and the engine lowered and further back in the chassis.
Must sell well and remain the focal point for the entire brand to exemplify what a Bentley is.
Potent Engine Option
You can pick between two engines. The V8, a 4.0-liter twin-turbo with 550bhp, a 4.0-second 0-62mph time, and a top speed of 198mph, is the cheapest. You can upgrade to the big-boy 6.0-liter W12 engine for an extra eleven grand.
It’s two V6s on a shared crank, and it’s brought over from the previous Conti, though it’s been tweaked enough for Bentley to label it the world’s “most advanced 12-cylinder engine.”
It has cylinder shutoff under light loads and produces 626bhp and a whopping 664lb-ft of torque from just 1,350rpm, which it maintains until 4,500rpm. The performance is better: it takes 3.7 seconds to go from 0 to 62 mph, and it has a top speed of 207 mph.
Both variants drive all four wheels through an eight-speed transmission and, if you’re feeling particularly boorish, a launch control system.
Bentley promises increased agility with the Speed to exploit – and enjoy – the vehicle’s higher limits. It engages the driver a little more than the ordinary GT, rather than simply cocooning them in comfort.
The more aggressive Bentley, on the other hand, excels in the luxury department, with all the fine detailing and materials one would expect from a car with the Flying B emblem. It’s impossible to sit in it without pawing at the chrome bullseye vents or the organ-stop pulls that control them, their delightful action almost justifying the astronomical ticket tag.
Inside the Speed, there are subtle variations like unique trim choices and badging, as well as extra Alcantara as standard. Diamond-quilted stitching is also standard instead of a checkbox option here.
Regardless, the interior is a tactile and aesthetic delight, which, despite its massive luxury, merges in a delightfully elegant whole that stays true to Bentley’s normal dignified restraint — those who want more dazzle should attempt to find a Bacalar that hasn’t been spoken for.
The primary instrumentation is a screen that shows a crisp depiction of analog gauges, adding a necessary fragrance of modernity to the otherwise pleasant interior. After you’ve entered your location and tuned into your radio station, the optional Bentley Rotating Display dispenses the central touchscreen, which magically rolls out of sight.
If you do that, you’ll get three lovely analog gauges in the center of the dashboard: a thermometer, a chronograph, and a compass. You’ll never get tired of seeing the spinning display, and you’ll probably wish the instrument cluster did the same.
Get Up And Go
Driving the GT Speed down Silverstone’s long pit seems strange at first, but keep in mind that Bentley incorporated an electronic limited-slip differential and rear-wheel steering to give the promised extra energy.
The Bentley Dynamic Ride 48-volt anti-roll suspension has been specifically calibrated for the fast coupe, and engineers have halved the speed of the eight-speed automatic shifts (in Sport mode) and added some exhaust sound.
There’s also the promise of limitless, neck-straining braking with Bentley’s carbon-ceramic brakes if you pay a substantial premium. Check that box, and 10-piston calipers in the front grip massive 440-millimeter discs (the 410-mm rear discs make do with four-piston clamps).
Although the costly brakes are certain to be handy around Silverstone, they are not a must-have for the majority of Speed customers, even though they would improve the ride thanks to the loss of 73 pounds of unsprung weight.
Nimbler Than Ever
With the Speed, there’s still a hint of that, but the general personality is significantly more neutral, if not reverse-biased. Turning the steering wheel on the GT Speed is a revelation, with an instantaneous response never seen before in W12-powered automobiles.
The aforementioned rear-wheel steering, in combination with the limited-slip differential, torque vectoring, and tuning of those systems in conjunction with the active 48V suspension regulating the body and wheels, can account for a significant percentage of that.
That’s on top of the regular GT’s already significant improvements over its predecessor.
We’re not talking about the urgency, feel, or feedback of a sports vehicle here, but rather a better and welcoming response to inputs behind the wheel.
The steering weighting is still light, with little in the way of sensation at the hand-stitched leather rim, but the increased accuracy is noticeable, with the Speed’s nose turning in much faster, while the GT’s trajectory may be altered by raising or pressing the accelerator.
The Continental GT’s enhanced chassis prowess adds yet another dimension to the car’s already diverse and tempting repertory, providing consumers who have outgrown the Porsche 911 Turbo with a very opulent GT that both cossets and delights. That’s a difficult balance to strike, but one that Bentley appears to have struck.
The “Speed” here isn’t measured in raw numbers – the GT has always been a quick car – but rather in the ability to explore that power and thrust in turns.
Although it’s unclear whether Bentley’s spider chart sacrifices some on-road comfort for handling capability – we could only fast-lap Silverstone’s clean, flat pavement today – the chassis experts are sure that there’s a really little trade-off.
If that’s the case, the Continental GT Speed might just be the best Bentley coupe yet, eclipsing our favorite V8 model (if we were ever lucky enough to be browsing the Bentley configurator with moneyed intent).
However, with that lighter, nearly-as-powerful V8 under the hood, we wonder how good the W12 Speed’s transformational chassis modifications would be.
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