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    DRIVEN: The 2011 Bentley Continental GT Gets Even Better

     

    2011 Bentley Continental GT, an AW Flash Drive

    What is it?

    "An evolution of a revolution," according to Bentley CEO Dr. Franz-Josef Paefgen, the second generation of the landmark coupe that put Bentley back at the tip of the luxury-brand spear in 2003.

    The concept driving the new Continental GT? Improved response and stability at all speeds, characterized perhaps as a bit more edge with no loss of requisite Bentley smoothness or comfort.

    The new GT is definitely an evolution, starting with its 6.0-liter, twin-turbo W12, which Bentley touts as the lightest, most compact 12-cylinder in the automotive world. The engine can now run on E85. Rotating weight and friction have been reduced, and power increased slightly thanks to new calibrations and turbo-control strategy. There's 15 additional peak horsepower (to 567 hp at 6,000 rpm), and an infusion of 37 lb-ft of torque across the rev range.

    Other powertrain changes are adapted from the Continental Supersports. Shift speeds in the six-speed ZF automatic are reduced 50 percent, and double downshifts are allowed for the first time in the standard GT. The all-wheel-drive's default torque split is shifted rearward, from 50 percent front, 50 rear to 40/60.

    Underneath, the GT's track increases by 1.6 inches in front and 1.9 inches in the rear. Subframes are now hard mounted, no bushings, as they are in the Supersports. Standard wheels measure 20 inches in diameter with 275/40ZR tires. Overall, the new GT is 143 pounds lighter than its predecessor, improving the power-to-weight ratio 6 percent.

    Styling updates are subtle, starting with a more upright grille and LED running lights that trim the main projector beams. Key body panels are fabricated with a new technique that Bentley calls "Superforming." Single aluminum sheets are heated to 950 degrees Fahrenheit then shaped under high pressure. It eliminates welds or seams and allows curves with much tighter radii. Underbody refinements help reduce the coefficient of drag slightly to 0.33 and reduce lift at the front and rear axles.

    Inside, the dash is reshaped in the fashion of Bentley's Wing logo. There's a touch-screen interface for navigation and infotainment functions, Google Maps capability, a 30-gig hard drive and an SD card slot.

    Bentley says the new Continental GT will reach U.S. dealerships by spring 2011, starting at just $189,900 (an increase of about 5 percent over 2010). Other variants of the current Continental will continue after its launch, including the convertible and the Supersports.

    How's it drive?

    It's all Bentley inside, with padded, soft leather surfaces, big comfortable seats and a hand-finished, bespoke quality that lesser luxury brands don't match. The new control interface, which combines a couple of knurled aluminum knobs with a high-resolution, eight-inch touch screen, is more effective than any point-and-click system out there. There's plenty of space and a bit more legroom in back, thanks to a new seat design, though access still requires a bit of acrobatics.

    There's nothing to complain about in the performance department. Nobody really needs more power for the road than this car delivers, even with a curb weight exceeding 5,000 pounds. The ZF automatic is the best, with throttle-blip downshifts that sound as good as any dual-clutch extant. The new Continental GT maintains the fabulous combination of style, comfort and speed that defined its predecessor, but there are improvements.

    In short, Bentley seems to have achieved its objective. This Continental GT responds to inputs more crisply than the original did. It feels a bit less nose heavy, less pony-car-like in that respect, and it turns into corners more readily. On the road, at least, the default understeer presents itself more slowly and progressively. The Continental GT delivers the same unique combination of good response and smooth, stable velocity it always has, only more so.

    Do I want it?

    If your tastes lean toward big, heavy, superfast cars with undeniable presence and your pockets are deep enough, absolutely. If you are sometimes troubled by excess, you might wait for the new Bentley V8.

    The company will unveil its new 4.0-liter, direct-injection twin-turbo V8 after the first of the year and make it available in the Continental GT by the end of 2011. Bentley promises lower fuel consumption and a 40 percent reduction in emissions compared with the W12. We predict more than 400 hp and a sticker price that's at least $15,000 less than the 12-cylinder GT's.

    2011 Bentley Continental GT

    Price: $189,900

    Available: First quarter 2011

    Layout: Four-passenger, front-engine, rear-drive coupe

    Drivetrain: 6.0-liter W12, 567 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 516 lb-ft @ 1,700 rpm; six-speed torque-converter automatic; variable all-wheel drive

    Weight: 5,115 lb

    Performance: 0-60 mph, 4.4 sec; 198-mph top speed (mfr); 12 mpg city, 19 mpg highway (EPA)





    Re: DRIVEN: The 2011 Bentley Continental GT Gets Even Better

    Great report, lots of thanks! That car is growing on me more and more since I was driving once the presessor, I knew that one day I could imagine myself in one of those. But even with all it's capabilities, I have to ask if I'm not to young for one of those cars? I've seen yesterday a young couple (both apprx around 30 years old) in a Continental Convertible and I had to say this looks silly. They didn't fit at all in that car not because of missing class or style but they have been at least 20 to 30 years to young for it.

    Re: DRIVEN: The 2011 Bentley Continental GT Gets Even Better

    I had the same problem here. I've always thought i'm still young for it. I think with the right color combo we can pull it off Smiley


    Re: DRIVEN: The 2011 Bentley Continental GT Gets Even Better

    koko:

    I had the same problem here. I've always thought i'm still young for it. I think with the right color combo we can pull it off Smiley

     

    yep - that might be. I've seen this combo in real couple of weeks ago on the streets of London and had to say the car looks stunning. The blue doesnt show off in the picture but in real its hot!

    Anyway - the GTC Supersport might be the one to go! Smiley


    Re: DRIVEN: The 2011 Bentley Continental GT Gets Even Better

    I know this color. it's very nice. I have to admit that Bentley got some amazing range of colors and options for everyone.


    Re: DRIVEN: The 2011 Bentley Continental GT Gets Even Better

    Had one to drive few days ago. Just to seat on this car is an event so much is the luxury inside, you just smile looking at so many gadgets available on this car. Loved the Turbo engine, you can feel the power when the turbos spin, it has that little bang on the back, which for such big and heavy coupe is quite surprising. The autobox is from XIX century compared to PDK, but you can clearly feel the different settings provided by the suspension (confort/Sport) modes. Lots of space even for four adults, and driving with it with top down is like having a red light in top of you, every single person looks  at it, which becomes annoying.

    Anyway, on this price range I much prefer the AM DBS, way more sporty on every aspect.

    J.Seven

     


    Re: DRIVEN: The 2011 Bentley Continental GT Gets Even Better

    I'm waiting for the V8.  High torque, better fuel economy with 8 speed.


    Re: DRIVEN: The 2011 Bentley Continental GT Gets Even Better

     Agree J.Seven - the W12 has an enormous boost and sometimes even backfire/misfire not sure if they are still there in the latest generation but in the car I drove this backfire happens a lot which was kind of fun as it sounded like a track car. 

    I remember clearly getting out of an Gallardo and into a Bentley. As huge the difference in comfort was as little it was in regards of power. Almost the same kick and sporty drive-ability!

    The V8 will be a great engine in this body as with the less weight and the high torgue the handling should improve while the power feels probably the same

     


    Re: DRIVEN: The 2011 Bentley Continental GT Gets Even Better

    Lars997:

     Agree J.Seven - the W12 has an enormous boost and sometimes even backfire/misfire not sure if they are still there in the latest generation but in the car I drove this backfire happens a lot which was kind of fun as it sounded like a track car. 

    I remember clearly getting out of an Gallardo and into a Bentley. As huge the difference in comfort was as little it was in regards of power. Almost the same kick and sporty drive-ability!

    The V8 will be a great engine in this body as with the less weight and the high torgue the handling should improve while the power feels probably the same

     


    Yes, this one backfire alot, mainely in reductions, funny thing for a giant like this. Lars, it´s curious you mention your Gallardo drive. This Bentley owned by a friend of mine passed thrue another friends Gallardo at more than 320Kph, the Gallardo guy was trashed during weeks by all of us, "beaten by the heavy boat" Smiley

    I love the Gallardo, one of my favourite sports car, Balboni edition with RWD must be absolutly amazing to drive. I´ve the chance to drive several times the E-Gear 500hp version, driving position and engine sound alone makes it all worth it. Even without moving this car puts already a huge smile on your face, seat in one and rev it til 8000rpm and you´ll understand what I mean Smiley, let alone feeling the rush and pull of the engine at + 6500rpm Smiley. It might not be the fastest out there, but it sure feels like it is.

    The M5 you see on the back has real 580Hp and it´s one of the most amazing beast I have ever driven. It may even sound stupid, but it´s true. It passes thrue this Gallardo in such way that it can only be seen to be believed. I had it for 10 days, and for the first days with TC on it didn´t impressed me that much,  than I switch off the TC and OMG Smiley the thing would jump all over the place and you were always fitting with it to keep it in place, a pure dragster, even the 997Turbo couldn´t keep up on straights, so much fun Smiley I ended up trying to buy one as my DD car, but had to work for another country and the fetish ended there.

    J.Seven

     


     
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