While Bentley preps a rebodied, thoroughly revamped version of its Continental coupe and convertible, the current model carries over with the Supersports editions added to the range in the 2010 model year.
With a base price of just under $200,000, the Continental two-doors command fabulous prices--and earn it with great looks and performance that masks some serious road-hugging weight. The pillarless Continental GT coupe reads "sportscar" down its curvaceous flanks, though it's truly massive to behold; the GTC convertible seems more classic, its proportions relaxed by the removal of the roof. The cabin mixes traditional materials and shapes smartly, with Bentley logos, chrome, and wood trim, while the dual binnacles of the dash flank a Breitling timepiece ticking away in the center of the dash, amid square feet of walnut or knurled aluminum.
The stock and trade of the Continental GT lineup is a 6.0-liter, twin-turbocharged, W-12 engine teamed with a six-speed automatic and an all-wheel-drive system. The GT and GTC get the "base" specification of 552 horsepower, along with Bentley's promise of a 0-60 mph in 5.1 seconds despite its thickly padded 5,500-pound curb weight. In the GT Speed and GTC Speed, the W-12 is tuned to make 600 hp, which drops about a half-second off that 0-60 mph time. Above all, the Continental Supersports 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. Fuel economy is a miserable 10/17 mpg, though the Supersports edition can run on E85-blend ethanol.
Handling fares far better than you might expect in such a hefty car, thanks to an independent air suspension with computer-controlled shocks and a three-mode ride control called Continuous Damping Control (CDC). All versions of the Continental GT are amazingly willing to press hard and deep into corners; the 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.
2011 Bentley Continental GT
While the driver and front passenger won't complain about room and access--they have plenty of shoulder and knee room, as well as ample headroom to go with their fabulously supportive seats--the Continental GT's back seat can be difficult to enter easily, and legroom and shoulder room aren't abundant. Even so, those wedged-in 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.
Neither safety agency has crash-tested the Continental--can you just imagine?--but all versions get 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 lets owners experience a little more wheelspin. Even in the GTC convertible, it can be difficult to gauge the Conti's far-and-away rear end, so the standard rearview camera is much appreciated.
The Continental comes as close to handcrafted as possible, by design. All have standard electronic climate control, Bluetooth and a DVD navigation system that also controls climate and audio functions--unfortunately, it's a complex system that's being reworked for the 2012 model year. Sirius and a six-CD changer also are standard. The GTC convertibles come with a power top that folds in 25 seconds; it's woven with great quality and damps out a lot of ambient road noise. As for the options list, it kicks off with a 1,000-watt Naim audio system with 14 speakers for a mere $6,000--which we don't recommend for its thin sound and dearth of equalization modes. We do heartily recommend the Mulliner package of quilted leather, knurled chrome, and turned aluminum trim, as well as the optional lambs-wool rugs and the available iPod interface.
For more on this spectacular line of coupes and convertibles, see TheCarConnection's full review of the Bentley Continental GT.