Shopping for a new Bentley Continental GT?
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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
standard all-wheel drive maximizes traction
Bentley has fitted the GTC with additional structural reinforcements
As quick as it may be in a straight line...the GTC never feels agile
Car and Driver
All versions of the 2010 Continental GT series share a basic drivetrain: a 6.0-liter, twin-turbocharged, W-12 engine that feeds its power to an all-wheel-drive system through a six-speed automatic shifter.
The GT and GTC get the "base" specification of 552 horsepower, a locomotive-style figure that vaults the coupe and convertible to 60 mph in a promised 5.1 seconds despite its unseemly 5,500-pound curb weight. "This massive engine whisks the big Bentley from zero to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds en route to a 12.8-second quarter-mile at 108 mph," states Edmunds, "not quite as quick as the CL600, but still good enough to match the Audi R8 supercar." Automotive says "the Continental's thrust is capable of chirping tires as it hurtles you effortlessly to the horizon or merge lane." In the GT Speed and GTC Speed, the W-12 is tuned to make 600 hp. Dropping about a half-second off that 0-60 mph time, the Speed versions have even more vivid acceleration with a cardiac lope of a soundtrack. Top speed? Bentley clocks 195 mph. "One press of the red 'Start' button on its wood-paneled, chrome-crusted dash lets on that something's gone astray underhood in a good way," reports MotorAuthority, noting "the GTC Speed drops 0-60 mph acceleration runs in 4.8 seconds." Fastest of all, the newest Supersports edition twists out 621 hp, 590 lb-ft of torque and fires the car to a 3.7-second 0-60 mph time and a claimed 204-mph top speed. Careful engineering allows the Supersports "to run on gasoline, E85, or any blend of the two, with no loss of power," Motor Trend points out, "Bentley claims a 3.7 second 0-to-60 time, which feels real to us." Car and Driver raves the Supersports' "passing power is mind-blowing...30 to 50 mph happens in 1.6 seconds."
All versions share a six-speed sequential-shifting automatic with paddle controls and a sport driving mode, which maintains seamless gearchanges but executes them more quickly. The Continental GT also is fitted with standard all-wheel drive, with a Torsen differential doling out torque as traction needs shift, from front wheels to rear wheels. ConsumerGuide says, "The automatic transmission shifts smoothly in normal driving and more sharply under heavy throttle," and MotorAuthority notes the Speed versions have a Sport shift mode that "speeds up seamless gearchanges, pushing power around the four wheels through all-wheel drive and a Torsen differential." Motor Trend gives kudos to the automatic, finding it "so much more responsive than before. Cruise in conventional drive, and shifts are mellow. Select Sport and you get crisper shifts, and it holds gears longer." Supersports models, Car and Driver reports, get "Quickshift programming for the six-speed automatic and a 40/60-percent front-to-rear torque split for the all-wheel-drive system."
The Bentley Continental has a weight problem it barely overcomes with power. "If there's one thing the Continental suffers from, it's weight," Motor Trend attests. "There's just too much of it, and too much of it on the front end; all of the engine sits forward of the front axle line." The mass is a good speed limiter, according to MotorAuthority, while Car and Driver notes that even the slimmed-down Supersports model and all its carbon fiber body pieces still weigh a "'mere' 4939 pounds, which is still spectacularly porky, especially for a two-seater." Fuel economy on the base Continental GT is a miserable 10/17 mpg, though the Supersports edition can run on E85-blend ethanol. As Automotive says, "Discussions on CO2 emissions should be avoided."
The 2010 Bentley Continental coupes and convertibles ride as expected-creamy-but handling's far better than you might expect from such a hefty car. The combination of an independent air suspension with computer-controlled shocks and a three-mode ride control called Continuous Damping Control (CDC), blunts most every road impact, though Bentley's dialed in lighter steering feel and the shocks and steering both raise their input levels as the car's pulse quickens. It's amazingly willing to press hard and deep into corners, well past the driver's desire to crumple anything this heavy and expensive. With the GT and GTC, "Ample, smooth power is available immediately from a stop, and the standard all-wheel drive maximizes traction under all conditions," says ConsumerGuide, while "the all-wheel drive pretty much ensures that no amount of throttle will rotate the tail," reports Car and Driver. "Push hard and all you ever get is understeer." As for higher-powered versions, Edmunds editors "found the Bentley Continental GTC to be a tremendously dynamic drive, while remaining buttoned down throughout." Car and Driver notes "minimal body roll, and lateral grip is tenacious," though steering is "heavy and a little leaden." MotorAuthority observes, "the GTC Speed felt at ease at any speed, blunting bumps with its sheer mass and turning in quickly," and in the Supersports, Motor Trend asserts the "steering response is sharper, and body motions are better controlled than on any previous Conti." Car and Driver, however, complains that although the four suspension modes "don't seem to offer much breadth" between "comfort" and "sport," they feel "the ride is firm but not harsh."
The Conti's brakes are big and deep-especially the $16,500 optional carbon-ceramic rotors, the most powerful brakes ever found on a production car, Bentley says. "Slowing from high speeds requires strong brakes, and the Continental delivers," declares Automotive.
The 2010 Bentley Continental GT and GTC outrace their mass with supercar speed and capable handling, and pay for it all with dismal fuel economy.