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29 August 2017

2019 Bentley Continental GT First Look

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It’s been almost 15 years since we first got a chance to drive the Bentley Continental GT, and more than five since Bentley let us loose behind the wheel of its refreshed luxury grand tourer. In that time, Bentley has tweaked and updated the Continental GT as much as it could, even offering a 700-hp version called the Supersports. Even so, there’s no escaping the fact that the platform is dated. But now there’s an all-new 2019 Continental GT, and it looks more than ready to take on the rest of the luxury grand tourer segment.

Visually, the Continental GT hasn’t changed all that much. It’s got the same basic look as the outgoing model, only sleeker and more refined. But while most people will only notice the updated headlights and new taillights, there’s a lot more going on. The new car has a wheelbase 5.3 inches longer than the previous Continental, likely attributable to the new MSB platform shared with the Porsche Panamera. This additional length allowed the designers to stretch the lines and give the car a more athletic look. And while 21-inch wheels are standard, Bentley will also offer lightweight 22-inch wheels as an option.

Inside, there’s a sea of leather, wood, and metal finishes like you’d expect in any ultra-luxury coupe. Bentley claims each cabin uses more than 100 square feet of wood and that it takes nine hours to hand-fit the inlays. The 20-way adjustable seats are covered in leather and get a “diamond in diamond” quilting pattern that reportedly took 18 months to develop. You’ll also find bronze inserts used as accents for several of the more important controls. Plus, if the standard 10-speaker, 650-Watt sound system isn’t acceptable, Bentley offers your choice of a 1,500-Watt, 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen system or a 2,200-Watt, 18-speaker Naim system.

The highlight of the redesigned cabin, though, is what’s called the Bentley Rotating Display. When you first get into the car, the infotainment screen is hidden with a wooden veneer. But when you press the engine start button, the panel rotates forward to reveal a 12.3-inch display. But that’s not the Bentley Rotating Display’s only trick. There’s also a third side with three analog dials—a temperature gauge, compass, and chronometer. Is it necessary? Not at all. But is it super cool? Absolutely.

Under the hood, Bentley has updated its 6.0-liter W-12 that it claims is 24 percent shorter than a V-12 would have been. The updated engine now makes 626 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque, enough to launch the new Continental GT to 60 mph in a scant 3.6 seconds with the help of Sport Launch mode. It also gets a new dual-mass flywheel and an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission for smoother acceleration and quicker shifts. Thanks to stop/start technology and more advanced cylinder deactivation, the new GT has also reduced emissions by 16 percent compared to the current W-12 car.

Bentley says it worked hard to make sure the redesigned car offered both a luxurious ride and impressive agility. To improve handling, the all-wheel-drive system now no longer defaults to a 40:60 front-to-rear power split. Instead, the system defaults to rear-wheel drive and sends power forward as needed. The new Continental also gets Bentley Dynamic Ride, a system that uses electronic actuators on each axle’s anti-roll bars to decrease body roll and improve grip. There’s also a new air suspension that Bentley promises can “vary from sporting spring stiffness to luxury limousine refinement depending upon which mode the driver has selected.” And drivers will be able to choose Comfort mode, Bentley mode, or Sport mode, each of which adjusts suspension, engine, gearbox, and other systems to change the car’s dynamics.

Brakes, meanwhile, are about a half-inch larger than before, with each disc now measuring 16.5 inches.

For buyers who won’t settle for an off-the-shelf ride, Bentley offers an abundance of personalization options. There will be 17 paint colors, 15 carpet options, 12 choices of wooden veneer, and 15 different leather options. Alternatively, if you need a Continental GT that’s even more unique, Mulliner, Bentley’s “personal commissioning division” will gladly customize your car however you’d like. For a modest fee, of course.

At the moment, pricing is unavailable, but look for the 2019 Bentley Continental GT to make its public debut at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show.

 

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