Sunday, December 18, 2011

Bentley Continental GT Black

We couldn’t help but be impressed with the heavily revised and rejuvenated Bentley Continental GT when we drove it six months ago on the satin-smooth reads of Oman, saying that it was now one of the best real-world driver’s cars on the market. And that impression holds true now that we’ve finally driven the latest car in the UK, Bentley having taken the musculat but perhaps overly blunt character of the previous GT and intensified it in all the right areas.

Actually a very significant facelift of its predecessor, the highlighta of the new Continental GT include a new six-speed ZF automatic geatbox that is claimed to reduce shift times by up to 50 per cent, an uprated version of the 6.0-litre twin-turbo W12 that now puts out 567bhp, wider tracks mated to new chassis settings (taken mostly from the Speed and Supersports models), and a 40/60 front/rear standard power split rather than the previous model’s 50/50. And the result is exactly ehat was needed for this most popular of Crewe’s models.

The active air suspension now offers excllent bump absorption in the more forgiving of its four settings (even on the optional 21-inch wheels fitted to our test car), although body control becomes a tad loose when settled into the softest mode.

Crucially, this improvement in ride has enhaced the GT’s touring ability, as has the now even better refinement. It isolates the driver thoroughly and fenerally provides an everyday cruising ability that is exactly what you would hope for in such an over-indulgent coup.

Initially the steering can feel a little synthetic and weighty for town use, but at higher speeds the steering weight evens out nicely, the optional 11,020 Pounds carbon-ceramic breakes start to offer a delicacy of feel and outrageous stopping power and there is a general cohesion to the whole driving experience.

Best news of all is that the new GT remains well resolved, even if you are always aware of the 2-3-tonne weight, it still understeers a little too eagerly, and as soon as you stiffen up the suspension you’ll get sharp jolts regularly going through the dampers directly to your leather sports seat-ensconced buttocks. But it’s fun and it’s nimble in a way that it wasn’t previously, tith the nose more willing to turn and the rear-biased power split bringing a more precised and encouraging response.

The first of the irritations is the automatic gearbox. It does an excellent job much of the time particularly in Sport (when the exhaists also offer a much more throaty tone) or normal auto models but it can be a bit slow to respond to prods of the right pedal, and occasionally it will jump more cogs than you expected.

Also, for all that the delightfully epic twin-turbocharged 6.0-litre W12 engine can offer, it’s feeling a little left behind by the best out there in terms of drama, if not in performance. And finally, although the list price is impressively competitive, there is nowhere near the standard spec that you would expect, and the carbon-ceramic brakes should be first on the standard equipment list, judging by the actions of the Bentley’s main rivals, even if they do suffer from an excess of pedal travel when used hard.

Bentley Continental GT Interior

The Bentley Continental GT and GTC are the two-door companions to the luxuriant four-door Continental Flying Spur. Offered in a grand total of five different models for the current model year, the Continental GT emerged in a sole coupe version in the 2005 model year. Over the current generation, the Continental two-door lineup has added power and has received a mild cosmetic touch-up, along with some other mechanical upgrades. The cars it elbows aside at the valet-parking stand include the Mercedes-Benz CL-Class coupe, the Ferrari California, and possibly the Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe and Drophead Coupe.

The basics of the $185,000 coupe and $200,000 convertible are shared with the Flying Spur. Though the two-doors have a much shorter wheelbase, they share the engine, transmission, all-wheel-drive system, and other performance pieces with the four-door Spur. At the core: a 6.0-liter, twin-turbocharged twelve-cylinder engine in which the cylinders are arranged not in a V shape, but as a W. This spares some room under the hood, and produces power just as copiously and as smoothly as a conventional V-12.

In the standard GT and GTC convertible, the W-12 engine produces 552 horsepower, and a 0-60 mph acceleration time of about 5 seconds, even though the cars each weigh more than 5500 pounds. Step up to the Speed editions, and power rises to 600 hp, while acceleration times drop below 5 seconds and top speed on coupes rises to 195 mph. The flightiest Continental GT Supersports hardtop adds on 21 more horsepower, hurtles to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds, and tops out at 204 mph, according to Bentley. Each of these shifts gears through a six-speed, paddle-operated automatic transmission--and each rides on an independent suspension, with power shuffled to the wheels via the all-wheel-drive goodness of a Torsen differential. As you might expect from the price, weight and power, fuel economy in the Continental GT is downright atrocious at 10/17 mpg. It's mitigated only a little by the flex-fuel capability of all versions: each can run on E85 ethanol blend.

Among the myriad convenience and luxury features on the Continental, there's a marvelous convertible lid on the GTC versions that folds closed or opens in 25 seconds, at the touch of a switch. Lavish interior materials distinguish the Continental range even from the Ferraris and Maseratis of the world, and a 1000-watt Naim audio system is on the options list for a mere $6000, though you'll pay separately for an iPod audio interface. The Mulliner trim package of quilted leather, knurled chrome and turned aluminum trim, is a highlight of modern-day automobile construction.

A replacement for the linebacker-hefty Continental GT series is due in a couple of years--and it's expected a major crash-diet program will bear results as parent company VW has been able to shake 400 pounds out of even the new VW Touareg and Porsche Cayenne SUVs.

Bentley Continental GT Speed

The four door Continental Flying Spur saloon was first displayed at the 2005 Geneva Motor Show. The Flying Spur utilizes most of the technical underpinnings of the Bentley Continental GT, and was introduced to European and North American markets in the summer of 2005. Together, the Bentley Continental GT and Flying Spur have boosted Bentley's annual production from around 1,000 units in 2003, to 9,200 units in 2006.[citation needed]

The Flying Spur has 6-litre, 12-cylinder engine, configured in a W formation. Unlike a conventional 12 cylinder engine with two banks of 6 (V-12), the Continental’s 6-litre engine is configured in four banks of 3 cylinders each (W-12). This shortens the W-12 engine's length considerably, compared to a 2 bank configuration. The W-12 produces 552 bhp (412 kW; 560 PS), accelerates from 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds, and propels the Flying Spur top speed of 194 mph (312 km/h).

One notable aspect of the Continental Flying Spur is its grille. Made to look like traditional chromed brass mesh, it is a metal-covered plastic-core. This was fitted as a safety feature; it is designed to break apart upon impact with a pedestrian.