2017 Bentley Continental GT Review

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2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Kirk Bell Kirk Bell Editor
June 9, 2017

The 2017 Bentley Continental GT Coupe and Convertible are genteel and refined while also offering brash performance.

It may not be a new car, but the 2017 Bentley Continental GT line of Coupes and Convertibles carries timeless appeal. These cars—offered in V-8, V-8 S, W-12, and Speed editions—amount to far more than just the 500-plus horsepower under their long, sleek hoods. Sure the performance from the twin-turbo V-8 or W-12 is amazing, and buyers also get a handcrafted cabin and hulking, all-wheel-driven grip, but those things are nearly demoted to finishing touches—like a 17-year-old Scotch whiskey and cigar, for example.

We give the Bentley Continental GT a 7.0 out of 10 for its blend of stunning looks, tremendous power, and interior refinement. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Regardless of body style or what's under the hood, the Continental is a pure grand touring car. Subtle changes to the exterior sheet metal since 2012 have left the Continental a sharper, sleeker coupe on the road. Coupes carry much of their visual weight in their front shoulders and look more tense and coiled. Convertibles are a little more relaxed with broad haunches.

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Continental GT V8 S cars feature red brake calipers, a rear diffuser and more aggressive front splitter, different rocker panels on the side, and big 20-inch wheels to fill out the wells. The V-8 cars are distinguishable by their blacked-out grill, red badging, and unique exhaust pipes. GT Speed editions don a different rear diffuser.

The Continental lineup covers a range of 8- and 12-cylinder engines. Both the GT Coupe and Convertible can be ordered with the 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged W-12 engine, which produces 582 horsepower and 531 pound-feet of torque in its standard configuration. This year the GT Speed editions add 7 hp and 13 lb-ft of torque for totals of 633 and 620, respectively. Sprinting up to 60 mph in the W-12 coupes takes roughly 4.3 seconds, and its top speed is pegged at 198 mph. Convertible versions make the same dash in 4.5 seconds, and Speed coupes manage the run in 3.9 seconds all the way up to 206 mph. Nothing to sneeze at for a car that weighs nearly 6,000 pounds.

GT V8 models have a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 that makes 500 hp and 487 lb-ft of torque, producing sub-5-second 0-60 mph times. The GT V8 S, which was new in 2014, sports 521 hp and 502 lb-ft of torque; it's essentially a higher-output version of the same V-8. Both of these are mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission that includes an S mode with sharper throttle response and a more aggressive shift logic. GT V8 S models can get to 60 mph in just 4.3 seconds, and to a top speed of 192 mph.

Bentley boasts that the V-8 models can manage more than 500 miles on a single tank—albeit with some self control—thanks to a cylinder shutdown system that turns off half of the V-8's cylinders to run during light load conditions. The W-12 has a similar system to shut down six of its cylinders in light-load situations.

In all versions, the GT comes with an all-wheel-drive system that uses a Torsen differential and 40/60, front/rear torque split that puts all that engine torque to the road with finesse—and allows a composed, refined, and capable driving experience even when the roads aren’t dry.

The GT defies physics with its capable, eager road demeanor; a car this heavy and this big shouldn't handle this well. A standard computer-controlled shock system can be set for three different modes, ranging from relaxed to ready to pounce. It excels in long sweepers and endless roadtrips.

Both coupes and convertibles are opulently shod with high-quality interiors with the look and feel of hand-built materials. Convertible models come with a power folding top that drops in 25 seconds to become the world's most powerful blow dryer. When it's up, the top supremely damps road noise, thanks to thick woven materials. The top can be ordered in one of three different exterior shades, with four different hide color combinations available for the interior—assuming you don't spring for the custom shades. V-8 models get exclusive Dark Fiddleback Eucalyptus wood veneer inside, as well as an Aliade cloth headliner and a short center console instead of the full-length console in W-12 models.

The interior of the Continental GT and GTC is a wonderful place to be, but not exactly spacious. The front seats are all-day comfortable, but there's less elbow room than you might expect. Rear seat passengers are treated to two beautifully crafted bucket seats, but the leg room is nearly punishing—worrying for a car with mid-size proportions.

The Continental GT lineup gets a laundry list of standard equipment that includes Bluetooth connectivity, automatic climate control, and navigation. The system supports Google Maps on its big 8.0-inch LCD touchscreen, and in-car connectivity can turn the Continental into the world's most expensive wi-fi router—subscription required. A $7,000 Naim audio system can faithfully reproduce Hall & Oates like we never expected.

The optional Mulliner package that includes wool rugs, knurled chrome, quilted leather, and aluminum trim. Semi-aniline leather, which has less treatment than other grades of hides, is available on W-12 models and helps the 3-ton warship feels a little more natural—if that's possible.

For 2017, Bentley adds the GT Speed Black Edition. It comes with special 21-inch black-finish alloy wheels and a high-gloss black finish on what would otherwise be the exterior chrome trim. A contrast color—in a choice of Hallmark, Beluga, St. James’ Red, and a new color, Cyber Yellow—is applied to the Black Edition's front splitter, side skirts, and rear diffuser. Inside, the blacked-out look continues with copious use of carbon fiber trim. The model's exclusive Mulliner GT Design leather and center console are offered with a choice of contrasting accent colors to match the exterior details. These colors consist of Porpoise, Beluga, Pillar Box Red, or the new Cyber Yellow. Contrast stitching in the same color is found on the diamond quilting of the doors and seats.

Like most ultra-expensive and low-number supercars, neither U.S. safety agency has tested a Continental—and we don't expect that to change any time soon. The GT has a standard complement of airbags, if things do go wrong, and pop-up roll bars on the GTC models for added protection. A rearview camera is standard and helpful because the high and far reach of the rear end can be a challenge to see over.

The 2017 Bentley Continental GT starts at more than $200,000, but it's not hard to find GT Speed Convertible models north of $300,000.

Fuel economy ranges from 12 mpg city, 21 highway, 15 mpg combined for W-12 cars, to 15/25/19 mpg combined for V-8-powered Continental GTs.

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