2010 Bentley Continental GT Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
November 9, 2009

The 2010 Bentley Continental GT and GTC convertibles indulge the rich with stunning power and surprising handling-not to mention a gawk-worthy options list and a mortgage-sized price tag.

The editors at TheCarConnection.com have driven various versions of the Bentley Continental lineup to bring you firsthand driving impressions of the British grand touring coupe and convertible. Editors also compared the Bentley Continental with competitive vehicles to bring you more information and have compiled a companion full review of opinions from other respected car reviews to help in your new-car research.

The 2010 Bentley Continental line of coupes and convertibles continues to grow with limited editions. Already offered as a GT Speed and GTC Speed, the Continental range includes a new Supersports edition for 2010, with even more power and finery. In all, there are five Bentley Continental two-doors, each with a wide range of cosmetic and luxury touches available for personalization.
The two-door carries a base price, including gas-guzzler taxes and destination charges, of about $185,000, which zooms to more than $275,000 with the new Supersports edition. The competition? A scant handful of machines, including the Mercedes-Benz CL-Class coupe, the Ferrari California, and the Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe and Drophead Coupe.

Between the Continental GT coupes and GTC convertibles, there's a distinct choice offered to buyers. While both cars are spun from pieces common to the Bentley Continental Flying Spur sedan, their looks and driving appeal are more distinct than you might see at first glance. The imposing elegance of the pillarless Conti GT coupe is more modern and appears smaller than its actual length and weight confirm. The Continental GTC convertibles, with the roof arc sheared off, take on a more timeless, vintage look, with vivid creases on the body above the front and rear fenders giving it a thicker, more static appearance. It's more of a boulevardier, though it shares the coupe's circular headlamps, chromed matrix grille, and LED tail lamps. The cabin of all Continentals mixes traditional materials and shapes smartly. Bentley logos, chrome, and wood trim span the Continental GT's wide dual-binnacle dash, with a Breitling timepiece ticking away in the center of the dash, surrounded by walnut or knurled aluminum-or whatever custom trim the owner specifies. Bentley takes the homage to its zenith with the Mulliner Driving Specification; it wears diamond-quilted leather seats, a knurled shift knob, and a three-spoke steering wheel, and on the Continental GT Speed and GTC Speed, the Mulliner package adds dark-finished metal trim, a rear spoiler, and wider exhaust pipes for a slightly menacing look.

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. 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 says 195 mph. And that's not the end of the twiddling with the 12-cylinder; in the Continental Supersports, Bentley's big engine 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. 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. Fuel economy is a miserable 10/17 mpg, though the Supersports edition can run on E85-blend ethanol.

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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. 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. Speed editions get lower ride heights and 20-inch wheels, as does the Supersport, which also picks up a reprogrammed transmission for quicker shifting and a wider rear track for improved roadholding.

With four seats and the same overall length as two Smart Fortwo city cars, the 2010 Bentley Continental GT should have more room for its backseat passengers. The driver and front passenger won't complain, since they have plenty of shoulder and knee room, as well as ample headroom to go with their fabulously supportive seats. The backseat's simply too difficult to enter easily, and legroom and shoulder room are cramped for style. Bentley's trimmed the Continental from front to back by about 10 inches to create a more athletic look for the two-door, and that chop comes right out of rear-seat room. Adults forced in the back of the GT and GTC will complain about the lack of room, but all passengers will marvel at the Continental's sensory rush of top-quality materials-from the plush carpets and fine wood and leather, all the way to the padded ski-sack pass-through that expands the cargo room somewhat. The Continental has some of the most obscenely well-selected, well-fitted materials found in any car built today.

The 2010 Bentley Continental GT and GTC have not been crash-tested by NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) or the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety). All sport standard front, side, and curtain airbags, as well as anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control, and all-wheel drive. Convertibles are fitted with automatic pop-up roll bars for added rollover protection, while Speed and Supersports versions have revised stability control that aims to prevent a vehicle spin, while allowing some entertaining wheelspin. A rearview camera helps with the Continental's visibility; even in the GTC convertible, it can be difficult to gauge the Conti's far-and-away rear end.

Build it yourself? No, the Bentley Continental isn't a do-it-yourselfer. But it is as close to handcrafted as you can come, with choices for interior trim and colors that can personalize any coupe or convertible right from the factory. All Continentals offer standard electronic climate control; soft-close doors and decklid; Bluetooth connectivity; and a DVD navigation system that also controls climate and audio functions. The collision of controls for the systems leads to confusing inputs and lots of frustration. Bentley also specifies Sirius Satellite Radio and a six-CD changer as standard. Bentley Continental GTC convertibles add a power top that folds in 25 seconds and has an indulgent feel and great sound-damping ability. Bentley offers an upgraded 1,000-watt Naim audio system with 14 speakers for a mere $6,000, but our editors couldn't recommend its thin sound and lack of user controls for audio quality. On the recommended list: a Mulliner package of quilted leather, knurled chrome, and turned aluminum trim, as well as the optional lambs-wool rugs and the available iPod interface.

8

2010 Bentley Continental GT

Styling

The 2010 Bentley Continental GT and GTC offer high rollers a distinct choice in how they roll.

The 2010 Bentley Continental line of coupes and convertibles continues to grow with limited editions. Already offered as a GT Speed and GTC Speed, the Continental range includes a new Supersports edition for 2010, with even more power and finery. In all, there are five Bentley Continental two-doors, each with a wide range of cosmetic and luxury touches available for personalization.
The two-door carries a base price, including gas-guzzler taxes and destination charges, of about $185,000, which zooms to more than $275,000 with the new Supersports edition. The competition? A scant handful of machines, including the Mercedes-Benz CL-Class coupe, the Ferrari California, and the Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe and Drophead Coupe.

Between the Continental GT coupes and GTC convertibles, there's a distinct choice offered to buyers. While both cars are spun from pieces common to the Bentley Continental Flying Spur sedan, their looks and driving appeal are more distinct than you might realize at first glance. The imposing elegance of the pillarless Conti GT coupe is more modern and appears smaller than its actual length and weight suggest. Edmunds implores you to "check out the quad circular headlamps, fastback profile and imposing 19-inch wheels-now that's attitude." Automotive calls the Conti lineup "more distinctive than that of those other more imposing, less elegant carriages that probe the limits of how large a car should be." The Continental GTC convertibles, with the roof arc sheared off, take on a more timeless, vintage look, with vivid creases on the body above the front and rear fenders giving it a thicker, more static appearance. It's more of a boulevardier, though it shares the coupe's circular headlamps, chromed matrix grille, and LED tail lamps. "Shearing the roof from the Conti coupe leaves a convertible that's less purely sexy than the hardtop," MotorAuthority opines, "but the GTC Speed has a laid-back, vintage appeal embellished by sharp pleats in its fenders." The look is similar in the front to the coupe-"The GTC looks much like the GT in front of the windshield," says Cars.com, "but the GTC's rear deck has a chrome strip around the passenger compartment"-though the convertible top stows away completely so that the convertible "maintains a sleek profile," Edmunds observes. Supersports editions stand out with their new front fascia and hood vents, along with a wider rear track that gives the special version "some nicely cut shoulders," Motor Trend notes. "Gloss-black 20-inch wheels fill the wells," Car and Driver adds, "and the rear spoiler features an extra lip contour for aero purposes." In an understatement, "the styling of the Supersports will never be described as subtle," they remark.

The cabin of all Continentals mixes traditional materials and shapes smartly. Bentley logos, chrome, and wood trim span the Continental GT's wide dual-binnacle dash, with a Breitling timepiece ticking away in the center of the dash, surrounded by walnut or knurled aluminum-or whatever custom trim the owner specifies. The cabin is "a standout, even in this rarefied segment," Edmunds says. "There's a charming old-world feel to the whole affair, highlighted by push-pull vent controls, a Breitling timepiece, and switches and levers constructed of real metal." Cars.com details Bentley's choice of "six natural, unbleached, laser-cut wood veneers" while MotorAuthority outlines the way in which "Bentley logos, chrome and wood trim span the dual-binnacle dash." Bentley takes the homage to its zenith with the Mulliner Driving Specification; it wears diamond-quilted leather seats, a knurled shift knob, and a three-spoke steering wheel, and on the Continental GT Speed and GTC Speed, the Mulliner package adds dark-finished metal trim, a rear spoiler, and wider exhaust pipes for a slightly menacing look. Car and Driver calls the Supersports' interior "splendid," rendered in special low-nap Alcantara and ultra-soft cowhides."

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8

2010 Bentley Continental GT

Performance

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.

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.

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9

2010 Bentley Continental GT

Comfort & Quality

The 2010 Bentley Continental GT and GTC are fitted fabulously for two. Four? Choose them wisely.

With four seats and the same overall length as two Smart Fortwo city cars, the 2010 Bentley Continental GT should have more room for its backseat passengers.

The Continental driver and front passenger won't lodge many complaints, since they have plenty of shoulder and knee room, as well as ample headroom to go with their fabulously supportive seats. Automotive reports, "The two-door models sport very comfortable bucket seats that you'd label a tailored fit in apparel, with integral headrests, and available massage; hefty releases and fore/aft switches ease entry to the rear seat." ConsumerGuide says, "Entry and exit are complicated by a low seating position," but "once inside, these Bentleys coddle with large, supportive seats."

However, the Continental's backseat is simply too difficult to enter easily, and legroom and shoulder room are cramped for style. Bentley's trimmed the Continental from front to back by about 10 inches to create a more athletic look for the two-door, and that chop comes right out of rear-seat room. ConsumerGuide warns, "Small adults will fit, but won't be very happy about it. Headroom is adequate for those up to about 5'8", but there's scant foot space, and kneeroom is very tight behind a 6-foot driver." Edmunds notes that there's room in back "only if those in front are in a generous mood; otherwise, the backseat is good for parcels and puppies only." Car and Driver also confirms "the back seat can still hold two adults but only for about 20 minutes." MotorAuthority reports "the front seats do have power assistance for backseat passengers to clamber in, and there's a console with cupholders between the rear seats."

The Continental's a little starved for interior storage, but has a reasonably sized trunk. "In-cabin storage includes only a modest center console, smallish door pockets, and a midsize glovebox," says ConsumerGuide. It also observes the trunk's "small opening and a narrow cargo area limit the size of items that can be squeezed into the trunk, although total volume is sufficient for weekend trips." Edmunds thinks "the 13-cubic-foot trunk provides ample cargo space for a car of this type."

Adults forced in the back of the GT and GTC will complain about the lack of room, but all passengers will marvel at the Continental's sensory rush of top-quality materials-from the plush carpets and fine wood and leather, all the way to the padded ski-sack pass-through that expands the cargo room somewhat. The Continental has some of the most obscenely well-selected, well-fitted materials found in any car built today. "One doesn't speak of materials in a Continental as plastic is employed rarely, and only at a touch point for some switches where it is the best substance for the job," says Automotive, adding "one need only look upward to the headliner to find stitched hides like a fine briefcase, or in the convertible, a fully insulated and lined fabric top that even has an interior light in the middle of it." Noise levels are low, too; ConsumerGuide describes how the Conti's "womb-like silence is broken only by occasional patter of huge tires over patchy pavement and the engine's refined purr during acceleration."

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9

2010 Bentley Continental GT

Safety

The 2010 Bentley Continental GT hasn't been crash-tested, but its size and safety equipment give good reason for a high score from TheCarConnection.com.

The 2010 Bentley Continental GT and GTC have not been crash-tested by NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) or by the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).

"Virtually every safety system is standard," Automotive reports. All Continentals sport standard front, side, and curtain airbags, as well as anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control, and all-wheel drive. Convertibles also are fitted with automatic pop-up roll bars for added rollover protection, while Speed and Supersports versions have revised stability control that aims to prevent a vehicle spin, while allowing some entertaining wheelspin.

A rearview camera helps with the Continental's visibility; even in the GTC convertible, it can be difficult to gauge the Conti's far-and-away rear end. Automotive finds rear and quarter vision in the convertible superior to that in the coupe, thanks to the higher roofline, larger side windows, and distortion-free rear glass window that is wider than the view available through the inside mirror.

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9

2010 Bentley Continental GT

Features

The 2010 Bentley Continental GT warms the performance palate-while letting you choose from a palette of wood, leather, and trim options for a perfectly personalized coupe or convertible.

Build it yourself? No, the Bentley Continental isn't a do-it-yourselfer. But it is as close to handcrafted as you can come, with choices for interior trim and colors that can personalize any coupe or convertible right from the factory.

All Continentals offer standard electronic climate control; soft-close doors and decklid; Bluetooth connectivity; bi-xenon headlamps with washers; a full leather interior with a choice of primary and secondary hides in 17 colors; 14-way power heated front seats; 19-inch wheels; multi-zone automatic climate control with rear-seat controls; a 10-speaker stereo with Sirius Satellite Radio and a six-CD changer; and a DVD navigation system that also controls climate and audio functions. The collision of controls for the systems leads to confusing inputs and lots of frustration.

Bentley Continental GTC convertibles add a power folding fabric top. MotorAuthority says the top "folds in 25 seconds and has indulgent feel and great sound-damping ability; you'll want to exercise it as least as often as the redline, if not more." Automotive reports, "Luxury and labor-saving devices are abundant, with trunk, folding roof and door-sealing all performed at the touch of a button."

Bentley offers an upgraded 1,000-watt Naim audio system with 14 speakers for a mere $6,000, but TheCarConnection.com's editors couldn't recommend its thin sound and lack of user controls for audio quality. "Also surprising are the sluggish operation and limited assistance features of the navigation system," Car and Driver observes, "a glaring symptom of the Continental's technological age."

On the recommended list: a Mulliner package of quilted leather, knurled chrome, and turned aluminum trim, as well as the optional lambs-wool rugs and the available iPod interface. Be prepared to consult a colorist before ordering, too; all Continental GTs can be specified with a choice of lambs-wool rugs, 17 shades of leather, and five grains of wood trim. Edmunds says the options list is "virtually limitless (though you'll pay handsomely for them)." The Speed offers its own set of paint and trim options, to go with a new finish for some of its chrome trim, and all versions have new available colors this year.

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8.6
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Styling 8
Performance 8
Comfort & Quality 9
Safety 9
Features 9
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