Three-generations, nearly two decades, race wins, championships, and ultimately more to come. Since introduction in 2003, perhaps no grand tourer has made an impact quite like Bentley’s Continental GT.
It’s one of the most popular luxury cars on the planet, and not without good reason. Not only is the Continental GT brilliant at blending what grand tourer customers desire – space, refinement, comfort, pace and a luxurious environment in which to enjoy it, the range communicates with buyers in a way that rivals cannot, given there’s something for everyone.
The Aston Martin DB11 might appeal to GT buyers valuing performance, while the Rolls-Royce Wraith certainly hits home its trump card of ultimate luxury. However, the Bentley’s broad line-up means it features not only cars rivalling these bookends, along with the convertible GTC, but features more in-between, too.
The essence of grand touring is captured perfectly by the Continental GT. Equipped with a 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 developing 542bhp, 0-60mph is dispatched in just 3.9 seconds, and it combines this performance with the sense of refinement and long-distance capability the Continental GT has come to be known for.
This building block now branches off into two further variants. If you want to experience the pure Continental GT with added dynamism, the new Continental GT S fills that brief. Still leveraging the dependable 4.0-litre engine, the Continental GT S injects a more thrilling character, with its darker, sportier appearance inside and out marking it out as a more thoroughbred take on the GT format. And it comes with the soundtrack to match, given its active Sports Exhaust delivering a purposeful V8 bellow on request.
A touch more class and luxury is found in the Continental GT Azure, this specification playing up to Bentley’s reputation for comfort and craftsmanship. Luxurious hand-finished veneers flow through the cabin, along with contrast stitching, diamond knurled control switches. Bespoke touches such as the Azure treadplates leave no doubt as to the sophisticated specification, and of course, it’s still underpinned by the performance of that 542bhp 4.0-litre.
Above the S and Azure specifications, two flagship models preside. The Continental Speed takes its place as the world’s greatest high-performance luxury grand tourer. Setting it apart from its peers is more power and more cylinders, from a sonorous and smooth, twin-turbocharged 6.0-litre W12 engine developing 650bhp. A top speed of 208mph gives it supercar performance, but technology such as an electronic limited slip differential and Bentley Dynamic Ride – a 48-volt electronic anti-roll system – mean it’s still composed and comfortable, confidence inspiring right up to the limit.
The newest member of the Continental GT family is the most luxurious of the lot, leveraging the expertise of Bentley’s Mulliner in-house personalisation division. The Continental GT Mulliner is the most exquisite expression of what a grand tourer can be, with a wealth of unique details and finishes to go with the W12 power – nothing else will do. And of course, as per Mulliner, a new world of personalisation is made possible. More than 80 paint colours to choose from says it all.
There’s always room for more. In the past, this has taken the form of small batch variants such as the GT3-R – a 99 model run celebrating the Continental GT3’s success on track. Now, Bentley has begun a new era of low-volume, ultra-exclusive cars, with assistance from Mulliner.
The Bacalar will be the world’s most exclusive two-seat, open top, luxury grand touring experience, with only 12 to be built as a glorious expression of the firm’s coachbuilding prowess. And it will gain a fixed-roof soulmate in the new Batur, itself limited to just 18 cars but expressing its qualities in a different way, as a manifesto of what’s to come for Bentley in the coming years.